Grapefruit is a popular citrus fruit known for its tangy, sweet-tart flavor and impressive health benefits. Grapefruits are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can boost immunity, support heart health, aid weight loss, and more. While the flesh and juice of grapefruits get most of the attention, their seeds are edible and nutritious too.
Most people discard grapefruit seeds without a second thought or spit them out when eating grapefruit. But are grapefruit seeds safe to eat? And are there any nutrition or health benefits to be gained from eating them?
This article will take an in-depth look at grapefruit seeds, including:
- What grapefruit seeds are
- Whether you can eat them
- Their nutritional profile
- Grapefruit seed extract and its uses
- How to incorporate grapefruit seeds into your diet
- Potential health benefits and side effects
Let’s find out if you should be eating grapefruit seeds!
What Are Grapefruit Seeds?
To understand grapefruit seeds, let’s first take a look at grapefruits themselves. Grapefruits are a citrus fruit known by the scientific name Citrus paradisi. They likely originated in Barbados as a natural hybrid of the pummelo and sweet orange.
Today, grapefruits are grown in warm climates like Florida, Texas, California, and parts of Africa. The two main types of grapefruits are white and red. While similar in taste, red grapefruits tend to be sweeter while white grapefruits are more tart.
Grapefruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some of the top nutrients found in grapefruit include:
- Vitamin C – supports immune function and collagen production.
- Folate – crucial for cell growth and development.
- Potassium – regulates fluid balance and blood pressure.
- Thiamine – converts food into energy.
- Vitamin A – important for healthy vision and cell growth.
- Magnesium – aids muscle and nerve function.
Grapefruits also contain bioactive compounds like lycopene, beta-carotene, and flavonoids that function as antioxidants in the body to fight free radicals and inflammation.
Nutritional Value of Grapefruit Seeds
Now, what about grapefruit seeds specifically? Grapefruit seeds are small, tear-shaped seeds found in the center of grapefruit segments. They have a bitter, tart taste due to compounds like limonin and naringin.
Yes, grapefruit seeds are completely edible and safe to eat. In fact, grapefruit seeds may provide some additional health benefits beyond the flesh and juice.
Can You Eat Grapefruit Seeds?
Grapefruit seeds are not only edible – they are nutritious too. Here is a quick look at some of the key nutrients found in grapefruit seeds:
Grapefruit seeds are rich in soluble fiber such as pectin, which helps regulate digestion and lower cholesterol.
Grapefruit seeds contain plant-based proteins important for building, repairing, and maintaining tissues.
The seeds contain polyunsaturated fatty acids like linoleic acid that support skin health.
Vitamins and Minerals
Grapefruit seeds provide iron, calcium, zinc, copper, and magnesium.
Eating a few grapefruit seeds can be a simple way to increase your fiber, protein, vitamin, and mineral intake. Some additional benefits of including grapefruit seeds in your diet may include:
The fiber in grapefruit seeds helps add bulk to stools and may relieve constipation.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Soluble fiber binds to cholesterol in the gut to eliminate it from the body and reduce cholesterol levels.
Reduced Disease Risk
Compounds in grapefruit seeds may protect against chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
What is Grapefruit Nutrition?
To better understand the potential benefits of grapefruit seeds, let’s look at the overall nutritional profile of grapefruits.
Grapefruits are low in calories yet packed with important vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. Some of the top nutrients in 1 cup (230g) of grapefruit include:
78% of the Daily Value (DV)
Grapefruits also contain trace amounts of B vitamins, calcium, iron, and zinc. As you can see, grapefruits provide an impressive amount of antioxidants, particularly vitamin C.
Are Grapefruit Seeds Poisonous?
There is a common myth that grapefruit seeds are poisonous. However, there is no evidence that grapefruit seeds are toxic or dangerous to eat.
Grapefruit seeds do contain minor amounts of compounds called psoralen and bergapten. These can interact with UV light to potentially cause skin photosensitivity or rashes in certain individuals.
However, the levels found in grapefruit seeds are low and unlikely to cause issues when consumed in normal food amounts. Still, those with sensitivities may want to avoid eating large amounts of the seeds.
Additionally, grapefruit seeds may interact with certain medications, similarly to grapefruit juice. The substances in the seeds can interfere with how these medications are broken down in the body, leading to higher than intended levels in the bloodstream.
Medications that may interact with grapefruit seeds include:
- Some antidepressants
- Medications for high blood pressure
- Statins for high cholesterol
Check with your doctor about potential interactions if you take any medications.
How to Choose Grapefruit Seed Extract
In addition to consuming the seeds directly, some people take grapefruit seed extract (GSE) as an herbal supplement. Grapefruit seed extract is derived from the seeds, pulp, and white membranes of grapefruits.
GSE has a long history of use in natural medicine. It is touted to have antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Grapefruit seed extract is used for applications like:
- Treating bacterial and fungal infections
- Improving digestive health
- Enhancing immunity
- Fighting candida
However, the research on GSE is limited to support these uses. When purchasing grapefruit seed extract, look for a product that is:
Made from Organic Grapefruits
This avoids pesticides and chemicals found on conventionally grown grapefruits.
Free of Artificial Preservatives or Additives
Avoid ingredients like glycerin, silicone dioxide, and maltodextrin.
Be sure to follow the recommended dose on the label. Grapefruit seed extract has a very concentrated, bitter taste. It is typically mixed with water or juice in a ratio of 8-15 drops of extract per 8 ounces of liquid.
Consult your healthcare provider before taking grapefruit seed extract, especially if you take any medications it could potentially interact with.
How to Use Grapefruit Seed Extract
There are many different ways people use grapefruit seed extract both internally and externally. Potential uses include:
Add several drops to water to gargle and relieve sore throats, coughs, and mouth sores.
Mix with water and swish in the mouth to kill bacteria and promote gum and oral health.
Add to a Neti pot when congested to clear sinuses and treat infections.
Dilute GSE and use as eardrops to remedy swimmer’s ear or ear infections.
Consume diluted GSE to treat digestive disturbances like candida, diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn.
Use topically on cuts, burns, eczema, and skin infections.
Add to water to kill bacteria when washing produce.
Some research indicates GSE may have antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant effects in the body. However, larger human studies are still needed.
Grapefruit Seed Extract Side Effects and Precautions
When used appropriately, grapefruit seed extract is likely safe for most people. However, potential side effects can include:
- Allergic reactions
- Upset stomach
Additionally, not enough research has been done on the safety of GSE for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Speak to your doctor before using it.
Grapefruit seed extract may interact with the same medications as grapefruit juice and seeds. Use caution and consult your healthcare provider before using GSE supplements.
The Amazing Health Benefits of Grapefruit Seeds — Nature’s Powerful Medicine
While more research is still needed, initial studies on GSE suggest it may offer certain therapeutic effects. Here are some of the top potential health benefits of grapefruit seeds:
Compounds in grapefruit seeds may suppress the growth of candida, a type of yeast that causes infections when it overgrows in the body.
Kills Antibiotic-Resistant UTIs
GSE demonstrates antibacterial activity that may help treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), including those resistant to antibiotics.
Remedies Fungal Infections
Applied topically, GSE may protect against fungal infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch.
Relieves Athlete’s Foot and Nail Fungus
The antifungal properties of GSE may help treat stubborn fungal infections affecting the toenails and feet when applied regularly.
Treats Eczema-Related Digestive Issues
GSE may improve digestion and restore gut health in eczema patients by fighting yeast overgrowth.
Works as a General Antimicrobial
GSE is thought to fight bacterial, viral, and fungal infections for improved immunity when taken regularly.
Do grapefruit seeds have antiviral properties?
Some early research indicates GSE may fight viral infections like herpes and the flu. However, human studies are lacking so the antiviral effects are unproven.
What nutrients are in grapefruit seeds?
Grapefruit seeds provide fiber, protein, healthy fats, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and copper.
Should you take grapefruit seeds on an empty stomach?
It’s best to take GSE supplements with food to avoid potential stomach upset. Drink with water or juice to dilute the bitter taste.
Who should avoid grapefruit seed extract?
Pregnant women, children, those with citrus allergies, and people taking medications that interact with grapefruit should avoid GSE.
Grapefruit seeds are not only edible – they are nutritious too. They provide fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Eating grapefruit seeds may aid digestion, lower cholesterol, and reduce disease risk.
Additionally, grapefruit seed extract shows promise as a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory supplement. However, more research is needed on its efficacy and safety.
Enjoy grapefruit seeds and grapefruit seed extract in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. Be cautious of medication interactions. Speak to your doctor before consuming grapefruit seeds or grapefruit seed extract supplements.
With their unique nutritional profile and potential health benefits, grapefruit seeds are a fascinating part of the grapefruit worth exploring.