Grapefruit And Your Cholesterol: Does Grapefruit Effect It?

Grapefruit is well known as a tasty and healthy citrus fruit, somewhat larger than an orange, that is most commonly eaten as breakfast food in the United States. While it is viewed as healthy, you may not know that compounds in grapefruit can benefit your cardiovascular system, including helping to lower your cholesterol.

Grapefruit’s Impact on Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Health

Grapefruit, happily, contains no cholesterol. But, as the following sections show, constituents of grapefruit can help to lower cholesterol, including LDL or “bad” cholesterol.”

Antioxidants in Grapefruit, including Polyphenols and Flavonoids

Raw grapefruit has a respectable level of antioxidants overall. A leading measure of the strength of antioxidants in the human body is ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). cholesterol antioxidantGrapefruit contains 1640 micromoles/liter of Trolox equivalents per 100 grams, the total ORAC value of grapefruit. (Please see the second graph.)

Grapefruit really shines as a food in its high level of Vitamin C, an antioxidant. One hundred grams of grapefruit contain 34.4 milligrams of Vitamin C, which is equivalent to 57% of the recommended daily intake for someone with a 2,000 calorie daily diet. If you eat a medium grapefruit (about four inches in diameter and 256 grams), you will get 146% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin C.

Research has demonstrated Vitamin C to have two major impacts pertaining to the cardiovascular system. Firstly, Vitamin C has been shown to lower total cholesterol. And, secondly, a relationship has been found between Vitamin C intake and lower levels of mortality from cardiovascular disease [1].

Grapefruit also contains a kind of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are a naturally occurring chemical in plants. (Flavonoids are a class of polyphenols.) Grapefruit has a fairly high level of polyphenols. Pure grapefruit juice ranks at 66 on the list of the 100 foods highest in polyphenols [2].

Polyphenols, including flavonoids, have been credited in research studies with beneficial effects on the human cardiovascular system. These include associations between flavonoid intake and lower rates of death from coronary heart disease [3] and fewer heart attacks (myocardial infarctions) [4].

Fiber in Grapefruit

cholesterol

Grapefruit contains a moderate amount of fiber. One hundred grams of grapefruit contain 1.1 gram of fiber. This equals about 4% of the daily recommended intake of fiber in a 2,000 calorie daily diet. If you eat a medium grapefruit, you will consume 2.8 grams of fiber, which amounts to about 12% of the recommended intake.

Of the fiber in grapefruit, 69% is soluble fiber (i.e., soluble in water) and the remainder in insoluble. The high percentage of soluble fiber in grapefruit is good because research has shown insoluble fiber to lower the amount of LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. (LDL cholesterol is the “bad cholesterol” that, through complex processes, obstructs the arteries and can lead to such deleterious health outcomes as stroke and heart attack.) Fortunately, while soluble fiber reduces the level of LDL cholesterol, it does not affect the level of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol that helps prevent clogging of the blood vessels) [5].

Macronutrients In Grapefruit

The following tables present nutritional information on red, pink, and white grapefruit from all producing areas of the United States.

Component
Amount
% Daily Value*
Calories
32
Protein
.63 g
1%
Carbohydrate
8.08 g
3%
Fat
.1 g
0%
Fiber
1.1 g
4%
Sugar
6.98 g
Water
90.89 g
Ash
.31

*The daily value is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

Fat Types In Grapefruit

Fat Type
Amount
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
.01
0%
Monosaturated Fat
.01 g

*The daily value is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

Vitamins In Grapefruit

Vitamin
Amount
% Daily Value*
Vitamin C
34.4 mg
57.%
Vitamin E
.13 mg
0%
Vitamin A – IU
927 IU
19%
Vitamin D – IU
0 IU
0%
Thiamin – B1
.04 mg
2%
Riboflavin – B2
.02 mg
1%
Niacin – B3
.25 mg
1%
Vitamin B6
.04 mg
2%
Vitamin B12
0 mcg
0%
Folic Acid
0 mg
Food Folate
10 mg

*The daily value is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

Minerals in Grapefruit

Mineral
Amount
% Daily Value*
Calcium
12 mg
1%
Magnesium
8 mg
2%
Iron
.09 mg
1%
Zinc
.07 mg
0%
Sodium
0 mg
0%
Phosphorus
8 mg
1%
Potassium
139 mg
4%
Manganese
.01 mg
1%
Copper
.05 mg
2%
Selenium
.3 mg
0%

*The daily value is based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

Ways To Eat and Drink Grapefruit

While in the United States most people think of grapefruit as a breakfast food to be eaten plain and raw or juiced and drunk, there are many ways to enjoy grapefruit as a healthy part of your diet. Of course, it is most healthful to eat grapefruit raw, as you will consume the greatest amount of nutrients that way. Grapefruit makes a delicious salad ingredient. Try a quinoa salad with arugula, avocado, and grapefruit. Grapefruit can be broiled for a grilled treat. It pairs well with meat, particularly chicken and pork, as well as with fish and seafood. Thai-style grapefruit and prawns is delicious. You can make delectable cookies, cakes, and other baked goods with grapefruit. And it is popular as an ingredient in a plethora of mixed drinks.

Citations

[1] Simon, JA. “Vitamin C and Cardiovascular Disease: a Review.” Journal of the American College of Nutrition 11, no. 2 (April 1992): 107-125

[2] Pérez-Jiménez J., Neveu V., Vos, F., and Scalbert A. “Identification of the 100 Richest Dietary Sources of Polyphenols: an Application of the Phenol-Explorer Database.” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 64, no. 3s (2010): S112-S120.

[3] Hertog MG, Feskens EJ, Hollman PC, Katan MB, Kromhout D. “Dietary Antioxidant Flavonoids and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: The Zutphen Elderly Study.” Lancet 342, no. 8878 (23 October 1993): 1007–1011.

[4] Hirvonen T, Pietinen P, Virtanen M, et al. “Intake of Flavonols And Flavones and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Male Smokers.” Epidemiology 12 (2001): 62–67.

[5] Jenkins D., Wolever T., Rao, A. V. et al. “Effect on Blood Lipids of Very High Intakes of Fiber in Diets Low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol.” New England Journal of Medicine 329 (1 July 1993): 21-26.

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