Is Grapefruit Good for People with Diabetes? Risks and Benefits

Is Grapefruit Good for People with Diabetes? Risks and Benefits

Is Grapefruit Good for People with Diabetes? Risks and Benefits

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Key Takeaways

  • Grapefruit is a tangy citrus fruit known for having several health benefits.
  • Eating grapefruit can be a healthy addition for people with diabetes because it has several health-promoting qualities and will not cause a spike in blood sugar.
  • Some medications may negatively interact with grapefruit or grapefruit juice, so check with your pharmacist before eating grapefruit. 

Grapefruit is a popular citrus fruit known for its tangy taste and unique health benefits. People with diabetes need to be mindful of the foods they eat and their lifestyle to keep their blood sugar levels in a healthy range. Grapefruit is lower on the glycemic index. A ½ cup serving should not cause a dramatic blood sugar spike in most people. However, there are concerns about grapefruit’s medication interactions.

This article explores the health benefits of grapefruit and what you need to know about its drug interactions. 

Is Grapefruit Good for Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic health condition that affects how your body processes glucose. Glucose is a type of sugar your body uses as its main energy source. 

When you eat food, your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose which enters your bloodstream. Your pancreas releases insulin which helps transport glucose into your cells to be turned into energy or stored for later use. 

People with diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or become resistant to insulin’s effects resulting in high blood glucose levels. Over time, high blood sugar levels can cause damage to organs and other tissues in the body.

Because of this, it is very important for people with diabetes to learn which foods will help keep their blood sugar in a healthy range. Working with a Nourish dietitian, you can learn which foods will help you maintain your blood sugar levels and reach your health goals. 

Grapefruit and other fruits are good food choices for people with diabetes. They do not tend to be high in carbohydrates and offer several health benefits.

Do grapefruits spike blood sugar?

Grapefruit is low in carbohydrates and high in fiber which slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Because of this, eating grapefruit in moderation, along with a balanced meal or snack, will not cause your blood sugar to spike. 

It is especially good to pair grapefruit in a meal along with a non-starchy vegetable, such as broccoli or a salad, and a lean protein, such as chicken, tofu, or eggs. Eating these foods together helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, which helps keep blood sugar balanced.

Health Benefits of Grapefruit

Grapefruit is a nutritious fruit with several health benefits. Like other citrus fruits, grapefruit is an excellent vitamin C and fiber source. 

Low glycemic index

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking system that measures how quickly and how much a particular food raises blood sugar levels. Foods with a GI score of 70 or higher cause a quick and significant increase in blood sugar levels. People with diabetes need to make sure most of their food has a GI score of 55 or lower. 

Grapefruit falls in the lower levels of the GI. According to the American Diabetes Association, grapefruit is a great fruit to enjoy if you have diabetes. 

You can talk with a Nourish dietitian to learn about other foods that will not cause your blood sugar to spike. The dietitian can make a customized eating plan that will help you manage your diabetes. 

Cancer prevention

Free radicals are substances with the potential to damage your cells and cause cancer. Antioxidants are chemicals that can neutralize free radicals and help prevent cancer.

Your body makes some antioxidants. However, the rest of your antioxidants need to come from your foods. Grains, vegetables, and fruits, including grapefruit, are great sources of antioxidants

Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant. One grapefruit contains 31.2 milligrams of vitamin C which is about half of your total daily recommended vitamin C amount

Lower stroke risk

Some evidence suggests that eating grapefruit helps reduce the risk of stroke because of its high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are compounds found in fruits and vegetables that have several health benefits.

A large 2012 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition followed participants for seven years and found that people who ate higher amounts of flavonoids had a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.

Gut health

Grapefruit is a good source of dietary fiber which can help promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria and improve digestion. Having a healthy gut is important for your overall health. 

Most people only get about 10–15 grams of fiber each day. However, the USDA recommends adults eat between 21–30 grams of fiber daily. 

One grapefruit contains about 4 grams of dietary fiber. Along with eating grapefruit, make it a goal to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout your day to reach your daily fiber intake needs. 

Drug Interactions and Grapefruit

Grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit can interact with certain medications, leading to potentially serious side effects. 

Grapefruit contains compounds that can change how certain medications are broken down inside your body. This may lead to too much or too little medicine entering your bloodstream. 

Too much medication can lead to serious side effects, while too little medication means your medical condition may not be adequately managed. 

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are several common medications that do not interact well with grapefruit. 

  • Some high blood pressure medications.
  • Some statin drugs.
  • Some organ-transplant rejection drugs.
  • Some anti-anxiety drugs.
  • Some corticosteroids.
  • Some drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Some antihistamines.

Not all drugs from these categories react with grapefruit. If you have questions about your medication reacting with grapefruit, it is best to talk with your pharmacist.  


Grapefruit has several advantages for people with diabetes. It is low in carbohydrates but high in fiber, making it a good choice for managing blood sugar levels.

It also contains compounds such as antioxidants and flavonoids which may help protect you against other conditions such as cancer or stroke. The fiber in grapefruit can also benefit your gut health. 

However, use caution before eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice if you are taking other medications. Check with your pharmacist and inquire if any of your medications will be negatively affected by grapefruit. 

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