Grapefruit for Diabetes – Benefits, Risks & Precautions

Parul Dube

January 17, 2023

Grapefruit, scientifically known as shaddock or pomelo, is a citrus fruit native to Southeast Asia. However, it has become popular in various parts of the world, including India, with the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu being the primary producers. 

Grapefruit has a distinct tart and slightly sweet taste, making it a preferable choice for breakfast or snacks. Recently, it has gained a reputation as a health food and is believed to help with weight loss, diabetes, and other health issues.

Grapefruit can be beneficial fruit for many reasons. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps bolster the immune system and subsequently protects the body from illnesses. Furthermore, Ayurveda suggests that grapefruit has many health benefits.

It is known to aid in digestion, promote weight loss, and detoxify the body. Additionally, since it has cooling properties, it is especially helpful for individuals with a “pitta” dominant body constitution.

This article explores the role of grapefruit for diabetes. 

Nutritional Properties of Grapefruit

As per USDA, one hundred grams of grapefruit contains the following nutrients.

  • Energy: 42kCal
  • Carbohydrates: 10.7g
  • Protein: 0.77g
  • Fibre: 1.6g
  • Sugars (Fructose + Glucose): 6.89g
  • Calcium: 22mg
  • Vitamin C: 31.2mg
  • Vitamin A: 58µg
  • Beta Carotene: 686µg
  • Lycopene: 1420µg

With its high content of vitamin C, dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin A, folate, and lycopene, grapefruit is a superfood.

It can help to boost immunity, protect against infection, support healthy muscle and nerve function, promote healthy digestion, keep you feeling full and satisfied, and protect against cancer. 

Note: It’s essential to be aware that grapefruit has a bitter taste due to furanocoumarins, which can alter how medicines break down in the body.

As a result, it can lead to potentially hazardous drug interactions. Therefore before consuming grapefruit, you must speak to your doctor if you are on certain medications. 

Is Grapefruit Good for Diabetics Patients?

The effects of grapefruit on people with diabetes have been a topic of debate. While some studies suggest grapefruit increases blood sugar levels, research on mice indicates that it can enhance the body’s response to insulin and reduce the effects of diabetes. 

At present, there is not enough evidence to support either claim. That being said, grapefruit may benefit people with diabetes in combination with prescribed medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Additionally, those at risk of developing diabetes may find some relief in grapefruit juice. 

Some research shows that consuming a glass or two of grapefruit juice can help to reduce blood sugar levels and increase the effects of insulin.

Grapefruit juice may have potential benefits for people with diabetes, but more research is needed to confirm these findings in humans. However, excessive intake of grapefruit juice may cause more harm than good, so it is crucial to regulate the serving size of grapefruit to ensure proper management of diabetes.

Grapefruit Benefits for Diabetes

While more research is being done to confirm the role of grapefruit in diabetes management, here are some of the ways that grapefruit helps manage diabetes:

High in Fibre 

Grapefruit is high in fibre. The fibre helps slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream, providing better control over blood sugar levels.

Low Glycemic Index

Data shows that grapefruit has a low glycemic index (GI) of 22 and a glycemic load of 0, making it an ideal food choice for people with diabetes. The low GI value of grapefruit indicates that it does not cause a drastic increase in blood sugar levels.

Rich in Vitamin C

Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C, which can help protect against diabetes-related issues like heart disease, nerve damage, and kidney damage. Vitamin C also helps strengthen the immune system and helps guard the body against illnesses.


Research shows that there is a close link between diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Hence, people with diabetes must take good care of their heart health. 

Grapefruits contain antioxidants such as lycopene, which can protect against cellular damage and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

It May Help with Weight Management

People with diabetes are encouraged to shed pounds, as being overweight or obese increases their chances of having diabetes and its consequences. Grapefruit, being a low-calorie fruit, can help individuals feel full and content, aiding in better appetite control and thus weight management.

The HealthifyMe Note

Grapefruit is an excellent choice for people with diabetes due to its low calorie and glycemic index while being high in fibre, vitamin, and minerals content. In addition, studies have demonstrated that it can help diminish inflammation and help with weight loss. That makes it even better for people with diabetes. However, before adding grapefruit to your diet, you should speak with a healthcare professional.

Healthy Ways to Use Grapefruit

There are many healthy ways to incorporate grapefruit into a diabetes-friendly diet:

  • Beginning your day with grapefruit can be beneficial. Consuming half of a grapefruit before your morning meal may help to reduce blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Combine grapefruit segments with spinach, cucumber, and onions for a nutritious salad. Sprinkle a bit of lemon juice and black pepper for flavour. Enjoy!
  • For a healthy and refreshing smoothie, blend grapefruit with other low-glycemic fruits such as berries.
  • Create a chutney: Combine grapefruit pulp, ginger, garlic, and chillies for a tangy and delicious chutney that can be served as a dip or used as a marinade for meats.
  • If you’re looking for a refreshing drink, why not try freshly squeezed grapefruit juice? Adding a few mint leaves and a pinch of rock salt for flavour can bring it to life. Make sure to avoid any added sugar or artificial sweeteners.
  • Grapefruit segments can be used as a garnish for salads or bowls of yoghurt, providing a flavorful and nutritious boost.
  • To add flavour and tenderness to fish or chicken, cook it in a grapefruit marinade.

It is essential to maintain a balanced diet, which includes a variety of nutrient-dense foods and be aware of the calorie and sugar intake. For advice on how to adjust your diet and determine the exact quantity of grapefruit to be consumed, talk to a registered nutritionist at HealthifyMe especially when you have diabetes or other health conditions. The nutritionists will help devise a comprehensive plan to better achieve your health and fitness goals.


Some studies have suggested that grapefruit may have beneficial effects on diabetes, such as helping to lower blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity.

It could be due to its fibre, low glycemic index and Vitamin C, which can assist in slowing down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and regulating blood sugar levels. Furthermore, the antioxidants in grapefruit can help reduce the risk of diabetes complications such as heart disease, nerve damage and kidney damage.

Additionally, its low-calorie content may also be helpful in weight management, which is essential in regulating diabetes. Despite this, further research is needed to understand the full extent of grapefruit’s effects on blood sugar levels.

Grapefruit can interfere with the action of some drugs, such as those used for lowering cholesterol or for managing blood pressure, making them less effective.

Thus, it is important to always talk to your healthcare provider before incorporating grapefruit into your diet. A balanced and nutritious diet with various fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats is essential for diabetes management.

The Research Sources

1. The U S Department of Agriculture


2. Chudnovskiy R, Thompson A, Tharp K, Hellerstein M, Napoli JL, Stahl A (2014) Consumption of Clarified Grapefruit Juice Ameliorates High-Fat Diet Induced Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain in Mice. PLoS ONE 9(10): e108408. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0108408


3. Glycemic Index Guide

4. Leon BM, Maddox TM. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease: Epidemiology, biological mechanisms, treatment recommendations and future research. World J Diabetes. 2015 Oct 10;6(13):1246-58. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v6.i13.1246. PMID: 26468341; PMCID: PMC4600176.


About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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