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What color grapefruit is healthiest?

Grapefruits come in a range of colors, from pale yellow to deep pink and red. But does the grapefruit’s color actually affect its nutritional value and health benefits? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll examine the different pigments that give grapefruits their vibrant hues and compare the vitamin, mineral and antioxidant contents of white, pink and red grapefruit varieties. We’ll also provide tips for selecting the most nutritious grapefruits at the grocery store.

The Science Behind Grapefruit Color

The bright colors of grapefruits are caused by natural plant pigments called carotenoids. There are several different types of carotenoids that produce yellow, orange and red hues in fruits and vegetables. The most common carotenoids found in grapefruits are:

  • Beta-carotene: Forms red, orange and yellow pigments
  • Lycopene: Produces bright red pigments
  • Beta-cryptoxanthin: Causes orange shades

White and pale yellow grapefruits get their light colors from a lack of these carotenoid pigments. Meanwhile, pink and red grapefruits develop their rosy hues from abundant lycopene and beta-carotene levels. The deeper and darker the red color, the higher the concentration of carotenoids.

Nutritional Comparison of Grapefruit Colors

Several studies have analyzed the nutrient contents of differently colored grapefruit varieties. The findings show that red and pink grapefruits generally contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds compared to white grapefruits.


Pink and red grapefruits are richer sources of vitamin A (as beta-carotene) and vitamin C than white grapefruits. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that supports immune function, while vitamin A keeps your vision, skin and organs healthy.

Grapefruit Color Vitamin A Vitamin C
White 2% DV 52% DV
Pink 15% DV 120% DV
Red 20% DV 155% DV

DV = Daily Value


There are no major differences in mineral content between white, pink and red grapefruit varieties. All types contain similar levels of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and other minerals.


Red grapefruits contain the highest concentrations of powerful antioxidants including lycopene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These compounds fight cellular damage by reactive molecules called free radicals. Higher intakes of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables are tied to lower risks of chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer.

Grapefruit Color Lycopene Beta-Carotene Beta-Cryptoxanthin
White 0 mcg 74 mcg 0 mcg
Pink 5,497 mcg 190 mcg 68 mcg
Red 6,987 mcg 648 mcg 424 mcg

Potential Health Benefits

The higher antioxidant levels in red and pink grapefruit varieties may provide extra health defenses compared to white grapefruit. Here are some of the top evidence-based benefits linked to consuming vitamin, mineral and antioxidant-rich grapefruit:

  • Boosts immunity: Vitamins A and C support immune cell function to help your body fight infections.
  • Supports heart health: Antioxidants in grapefruit may improve blood pressure levels and cholesterol profiles.
  • Reduces cancer risk: Compounds like lycopene are associated with lower risks of prostate, lung and breast cancers.
  • Protects vision: Vitamin A nourishes the eyes and lowers risks of macular degeneration and night blindness.
  • Promotes skin health: Vitamin A and C prevent dryness, wrinkling and skin damage.

How to Select the Most Nutritious Grapefruits

Keep these tips in mind when shopping for grapefruits to get the maximum health benefits:

  • Choose fully ripe, heavy grapefruits that feel firm with thin, glossy peels. Unripe fruits will be pale and lack flavor.
  • Pick grapefruits with bright, rich colors. Deeper reds, pinks and oranges indicate higher antioxidant levels.
  • Avoid soft, mushy, wrinkled or bruised grapefruits.
  • Check the shoulders of the fruit around the stem. They should be rounded and smooth, not flat or indented.
  • Refrigerate grapefruits promptly and consume within 2-3 weeks for peak freshness.

Tips for Adding More Grapefruit to Your Diet

Here are some easy ways to enjoy more grapefruit and reap their unique health benefits:

  • Cut grapefruits halves or segments to add sparkling water, yogurt, oatmeal or salads.
  • Blend grapefruit sections into smoothies for a nutrition boost.
  • Broil or grill grapefruit halves for a tasty warm breakfast.
  • Make a grapefruit infused water by steeping wedges in cold water.
  • Use grapefruit juice or zest to add flavor to baked goods, marinades and dressings.
  • Try pairing grapefruit with avocado, greens, fish or chicken.

The Bottom Line

Pink and red grapefruit varieties contain higher concentrations of beneficial carotenoids like lycopene and beta-carotene than white grapefruit. Their vibrant red pigments also provide more vitamin A and vitamin C. These nutrients and antioxidants are tied to an array of health benefits, from stronger immunity and heart health to reduced inflammation and chronic disease risks.

Choosing fully ripe, deeply colored red or pink grapefruits will provide the greatest amount of antioxidants and nutrients. But all grapefruit colors, including white, can add flavor and nutrition to your diet. So don’t be afraid to mix it up and enjoy the full range of colorful grapefruit varieties.