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AICR Food Facts  >  Foods That Fight Cancer

Grapefruit: Can Help Promote Healthy Weight

This content was last updated on December 30, 2019

The Cancer Research

Is grapefruit a fat-burner? Many people associate grapefruit with dieting to lose weight. But research suggests any weight loss help that grapefruit provides is not necessarily different than what you get from any other food that provides low calories in a satisfying portion. Regardless, grapefruit has plenty to offer beyond any connection to weight management due to the cancer-protective potential of its nutrients and phytocompounds.

If you enjoy grapefruit or grapefruit juice and take any medications, talk with your pharmacist or health care provider. Grapefruit and its juice can cause too much or too little of certain medications to reach cells in the body, either increasing the risk of side effects or reducing the medication’s effectiveness. Your health care provider may be able to switch your prescription to something unaffected by grapefruit, or advise you on the best time to eat it in relation to when you take medication.

Interpreting the data

After a systematic review of the global scientific literature, AICR/WCRF analyzed how fruits and their nutrients affect the risk of developing cancer.

There is probable evidence that non-starchy vegetables and fruit combined DECREASE the risk of:

  • Cancers of the aerodigestive tract (mouth, pharynx, nasopharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung, stomach and colorectal cancers)

Limited evidence suggests that fruits may DECREASE the risk of:

  • Lung cancer (in people who smoke or used to smoke tobacco) and squamous cell esophageal cancer

Limited evidence suggests that citrus fruits may DECREASE the risk of:

  • Stomach cancer (cardia type only)

Limited evidence suggests that non-starchy vegetables and fruit combined may DECREASE the risk of:

  • Bladder cancer

Limited evidence suggests that foods containing vitamin C may DECREASE the risk of:

  • Lung cancer (in people who smoke) and colon cancer

Limited evidence suggests that foods containing beta-carotene may DECREASE the risk of:

  • Lung cancer

Limited evidence suggests that foods containing carotenoids may DECREASE the risk of:

  • Lung and estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancers.
  • Evidence categorized as “probable” means there is strong research showing a causal relationship to cancer—either decreasing or increasing the risk. The research must include quality human studies that meet specific criteria and biological explanations for the findings.
  • A probable judgement is strong enough to justify recommendations.
  • Evidence categorized as “limited suggestive” means results are generally consistent in overall conclusions, but it’s rarely strong enough to justify recommendations to reduce risk of cancer.
Source: AICR/WCRF. Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective, 2018.

Ongoing Areas of Investigation

  • Tips for Storage and Preparation
    Storage:
    • For grapefruit at its juiciest, store at room temperature up to a week. Or store it two to three weeks in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature before serving for best flavor.
    Preparation Ideas:
    • Rinse grapefruit before you cut into it, even if you aren’t eating the peel. Otherwise bacteria on the outside can get transferred from the knife to the portions you will eat.
    • To eat grapefruit by scooping out sections, cut the grapefruit in half and cut around each section with a sharp knife or serrated grapefruit knife.
    • Sprinkle a grapefruit half with a touch of brown sugar and broil just until bubbly.
    • You can also peel a grapefruit like an orange. Peel it with your hands or a knife, and pull apart each section by hand. In doing this, you get more fiber because you eat the membrane surrounding each section too.
    • These grapefruit sections add a delicious tang to green salads. Add avocado slices, too, for a classic combination.
    • Make salsa out of diced grapefruit, chopped bell peppers and cilantro.

References

  1. Fujioka, K., et al., The effects of grapefruit on weight and insulin resistance: relationship to the metabolic syndrome. Journal of medicinal food, 2006. 9(1): p. 49-54.
  2. Silver, H.J., M.S. Dietrich, and K.D. Niswender, Effects of grapefruit, grapefruit juice and water preloads on energy balance, weight loss, body composition, and cardiometabolic risk in free-living obese adults. Nutrition & metabolism, 2011. 8(1): p. 8.
  3. U.S. Department of Agriculture, A.R.S., Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2. 2010.
  4. Wolfe, K.L., et al., Cellular antioxidant activity of common fruits. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 2008. 56(18): p. 8418-26.
  5. Vanamala, J., et al., Suppression of colon carcinogenesis by bioactive compounds in grapefruit. Carcinogenesis, 2006. 27(6): p. 1257-65.
  6. Roy, A. and S. Saraf, Limonoids: overview of significant bioactive triterpenes distributed in plants kingdom. Biological & pharmaceutical bulletin, 2006. 29(2): p. 191-201.
  7. Chidambara Murthy, K.N., et al., Citrus limonin and its glucoside inhibit colon adenocarcinoma cell proliferation through apoptosis. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 2011. 59(6): p. 2314-23.
  8. Miller, E.G., et al., Inhibition of oral carcinogenesis by citrus flavonoids. Nutrition and cancer, 2008. 60(1): p. 69-74.
  9. Leonardi, T., et al., Apigenin and naringenin suppress colon carcinogenesis through the aberrant crypt stage in azoxymethane-treated rats. Experimental biology and medicine, 2010. 235(6): p. 710-7.
  10. Moon, Y.J., X. Wang, and M.E. Morris, Dietary flavonoids: effects on xenobiotic and carcinogen metabolism. Toxicology in vitro : an international journal published in association with BIBRA, 2006. 20(2): p. 187-210.
  11. World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, 2007: Washington, DC. p. 82-113.
  12. Monroe, K.R., et al., Prospective study of grapefruit intake and risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women: the Multiethnic Cohort Study. British journal of cancer, 2007. 97(3): p. 440-5.
  13. Spencer, E.A., et al., Prospective study of the association between grapefruit intake and risk of breast cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Cancer causes & control : CCC, 2009. 20(6): p. 803-9.
  14. Kim, E.H., et al., A prospective study of grapefruit and grapefruit juice intake and breast cancer risk. British journal of cancer, 2008. 98(1): p. 240-1.
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