Grapefruit juice has long been touted as a healthy drink, full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Drinking freshly squeezed grapefruit juice in particular may provide more benefits than bottled grapefruit juice, as it retains more nutrients. This article explores the evidence behind the health claims about freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.
Nutrition profile of grapefruit juice
Grapefruits are an excellent source of many vitamins, minerals and plant compounds:
- Vitamin C. One cup (240 ml) of grapefruit juice provides over 90% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for vitamin C, an essential nutrient and antioxidant.
- Potassium. Grapefruit juice contains around 7% of the RDI for potassium per cup (240 ml). Potassium helps regulate blood pressure.
- Folate. Each cup of grapefruit juice has around 11% of the RDI for folate, a B vitamin important for cell growth.
- Antioxidants. Grapefruits contain beneficial plant compounds like naringin, naringenin and lycopene, which function as antioxidants in your body.
Additionally, grapefruit juice is very low in calories, providing only around 100 calories per cup (240 ml). It does not contain any fat, cholesterol or sodium.
Here is how the nutrition information for 1 cup (240 ml) of grapefruit juice compares to other citrus juices:
|Juice||Calories||Total fat||Total carbs||Vitamin C||Potassium|
|Grapefruit||96||0 g||25 g||96 mg (106% DV)||360 mg (7% DV)|
|Orange||112||0 g||25 g||124 mg (138% DV)||496 mg (10% DV)|
|Lemon||61||0 g||15 g||51 mg (57% DV)||138 mg (3% DV)|
As you can see, grapefruit juice is low in calories but high in vitamin C and potassium compared to other citrus juices.
Freshly squeezed vs store-bought
There are some differences between freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and commercially produced bottled grapefruit juice:
- Vitamin C content. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice retains more vitamin C, as bottling processes deplete vitamin C levels.
- Pulp. Freshly made juice contains pulp and additional fiber not found in filtered bottled juice.
- Sugar content. Bottled grapefruit juice sometimes contains added sugars, while freshly squeezed juice contains only natural sugars.
- Preservatives. Bottled juices have preservatives to extend shelf life, while fresh juice does not.
One study tested grapefruit juice prepared in various ways and found pasteurized bottled grapefruit juice had 22% less vitamin C than fresh frozen grapefruit juice. The greatest loss was seen with commercial bottled grapefruit juice, which had 52% less vitamin C than fresh frozen juice (1).
Another study found that pasteurization reduced vitamin C in grapefruit juice by up to 34% compared to raw grapefruit juice (2).
The pulp of grapefruit also contains beneficial fiber. A study found fresh grapefruit juice contained 2 grams of dietary fiber per cup (240 ml), while strained bottled grapefruit juice provided zero grams of fiber (3).
Therefore, nutritionally speaking, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice retains more vitamin C and fiber compared to commercially produced juices.
Potential health benefits
Here is a look at some of the evidence behind the possible health benefits of drinking freshly squeezed grapefruit juice:
Drinking grapefruit juice is a long-standing home remedy said to encourage weight loss. In one study, obese participants who drank 1/2 grapefruit before meals for 12 weeks lost significantly more weight than the control group (4).
However, more recent research found grapefruit juice itself did not have any significant effects on weight loss. A study had 91 obese participants follow a calorie-restricted diet for 12 weeks while drinking 8 oz (240 ml) of grapefruit juice or apple juice before meals. No difference was observed in weight loss between groups (5).
Researchers noted that whole grapefruits have a higher satiety value compared to juice, which may explain why eating grapefruit shows more promise for weight loss than drinking the juice alone.
Blood sugar regulation
Grapefruit contains compounds that may help regulate blood sugar levels. Naringin and naringenin are antioxidants found in grapefruit that are thought to increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels after meals (6, 7).
Animal and test-tube studies confirm grapefruit compounds may improve blood sugar control. However, results from human studies are inconsistent (6, 8, 9).
One study gave people with metabolic syndrome 6 oz (180 ml) of grapefruit juice daily for three months. They found no significant differences in blood sugar levels between groups (10).
More studies in humans are needed to understand grapefruit juice’s effects on blood sugar management.
Studies indicate drinking higher amounts of grapefruit juice may promote heart health by:
- Reducing blood pressure. Grapefruit juice contains potassium, which may help regulate blood pressure (11, 12).
- Improving blood lipids. Compounds in grapefruit juice may reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels (7, 9).
- Increasing blood flow. Grapefruit juice contains antioxidants linked to improved circulation (13, 14).
However, most studies have tested very large doses of concentrated grapefruit supplements or extracts — not typical amounts of grapefruit juice.
Human studies investigating heart disease risk factors have not observed clear benefits. A 30-day study in 24 people found drinking 16 oz (480 ml) of grapefruit juice did not significantly change blood pressure, cholesterol or heart rate versus placebo juice (15).
The current research does not support clear heart health benefits for moderate intake of grapefruit juice.
Grapefruit contains compounds like limonoids and lycopene that may protect against cancer (16, 17).
In a large study in over 63,000 women, eating grapefruit and grapefruit juice 2–6 times per week was associated with a 15% lower risk of breast cancer (18).
However, high quality studies in humans isolating the effects of grapefruit juice intake on cancer are lacking. More research is needed in this area.
Increasing nutrient absorption
Grapefruit juice affects how your body metabolizes certain medications. Compounds in grapefruit can inhibit enzymes involved in drug metabolism, which increases levels of the medication in your blood (19, 20).
While this can be dangerous with certain medications, it indicates drinking grapefruit juice may help your body better absorb and utilize other compounds like antioxidants and vitamins.
One study found that drinking grapefruit juice increased blood levels of antioxidants like beta-carotene and lycopene. Participants also showed improved blood flow (14).
More studies are needed to better understand how compounds in grapefruit juice may enhance absorption of beneficial nutrients.
While grapefruit juice provides benefits, there are some downsides to consider:
- Medication interactions. Grapefruit can negatively interact with over 85 medications, increasing the chance of side effects. Those on prescription medications should consult their doctor before drinking grapefruit juice (21).
- Blood sugarspikes. While grapefruit juice contains nutrients that may regulate blood sugar, it’s still fairly high in natural sugars that can rapidly increase blood sugar levels.
- Tooth erosion. Like other acidic drinks, excessive grapefruit juice consumption over time can wear down tooth enamel (22).
Those with certain health conditions may also want to exercise caution with frequent grapefruit juice intake:
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The acidity in grapefruit juice may trigger acid reflux symptoms like heartburn.
- Iron deficiency. Compounds in grapefruit can inhibit iron absorption, which may worsen deficiency in at-risk individuals.
- Kidney stones. Grapefruit juice is fairly high in oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stone development for those prone to them.
Additionally, grapefruit juice should be avoided in infants under 1 year to help prevent digestive issues.
As with any food, moderation is likely best when incorporating grapefruit juice into your diet.
Is store-bought grapefruit juice a healthy choice?
Store-bought grapefruit juice can be a good source of nutrients, especially vitamin C. However, there are some considerations when choosing a bottled grapefruit juice:
- Check the ingredients list. Avoid juices with added sugars. Look for 100% grapefruit juice.
- Go for pasteurized, not from concentrate. These retain more vitamin C than heavily processed varieties.
- Consider fortified juices. Some have extra calcium, vitamin D or antioxidants added.
- Watch the calories. An 8-oz serving has around 100 calories — it’s easy to drink a lot of calories.
- Don’t rely on it for fiber. Bottled grapefruit juice contains minimal fiber compared to fresh.
For those looking to maximize nutrients, freshly squeezed juice is a better choice. However, commercial juices can be a convenient way to add vitamin C to your diet — just be mindful of what’s added.
Here are some key points about the health effects of drinking freshly squeezed grapefruit juice:
- Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, with less processing than store-bought juices.
- It may support weight loss and blood sugar when eaten as whole grapefruits, but juice alone shows less consistent benefits.
- Compounds in grapefruit juice may improve heart health markers, although human data is limited.
- While promising, there’s currently minimal evidence directly linking grapefruit juice to reduced cancer risk.
- Grapefruit juice can interact with medications and may worsen conditions like GERD or anemia in some people.
- For most people, moderate intake of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice as part of a healthy diet can be safely enjoyed.
Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is a tasty low-calorie beverage packed with vitamin C. While grapefruit juice shows promise for benefits like weight management and blood sugar control, more research is needed. For now, grapefruit juice is linked most strongly to improved vitamin C intake.
Including freshly squeezed grapefruit juice as part of a balanced diet may help boost your nutrient intake and add variety. But as with any fruit juice, it’s best consumed in moderation.
Grapefruit juice is a nutritious beverage full of vitamin C and antioxidants. Freshly squeezed juice retains more nutrients than store-bought varieties. While grapefruit juice has been associated with health benefits like improved weight loss, blood sugar regulation and heart health, many studies used concentrated extracts. More research is needed to confirm these benefits apply to normal grapefruit juice intake. Overall, incorporating moderate amounts of fresh grapefruit juice into a healthy diet can safely boost vitamin C and plant compound intake for most people. But it’s wise to be cautious about excessive intake and monitor for any potential side effects.