Grapefruit Associated With Lower Body Weight and Higher Key Nutrient Intake Among Women

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New research presented this week at Experimental Biology (EB) 2012 suggests grapefruit may be a healthful choice for women striving to meet recommended intakes of fruit and key nutrients, and, when included as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, may help reduce some risk factors associated with chronic diseases.

As part of the study, researchers analyzed data from the 2003-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and found that women age 19 and older who consume grapefruit tend to have significantly greater intakes of several key nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamin B6 than those who don't consume grapefruit. These findings are especially noteworthy since several of these nutrients (vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and magnesium) are underconsumed by the US population.

The research also shows grapefruit consumers tended to have lower intakes of added sugars, total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than grapefruit non-consumers, but comparable intakes of calories, carbohydrates and total sugars.

Grapefruit consumers also tended to have significantly higher HDL-cholesterol and lower triglycerides and C-reactive protein compared to women who did not consume grapefruit. Higher HDL-cholesterol and lower triglycerides may translate into a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, as could lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that has been linked to heart health.

Grapefruit Consumption also Linked to Lower Body Weight
The study found that grapefruit consumption was associated with lower body weight and waist circumference. Furthermore, women in the study who consume grapefruit tended to have BMIs that are lower than those who don't consume grapefruit.

"This research adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests grapefruit and grapefruit juice are worthy components of any healthy weight management plan," said Gail Rampersaud, MS, RD, LDN, Associate in Nutrition Research and Education, University of Florida.

"For example, a study conducted at Vanderbilt University also suggests a potentially beneficial role of grapefruit consumption on weight management. Obese adults who consumed half a grapefruit, a half cup of grapefruit juice or a half cup of water 20 minutes before each of their three daily meals while on a reduced-calorie diet experienced significant decreases in body weight, BMI and waist circumference over the course of 12 weeks."

Relation to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the total diet should consist of nutrient-dense foods that provide essential nutrients and health benefits. In fact, USDA's MyPlate, the new symbol for healthful eating, recommends that Americans "make half your plate fruits and vegetables" as a simple message designed to help consumers make better food choices and include plenty of nutrient-dense foods in their diets.

"Although the Dietary Guidelines recommend a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, most Americans fall short of meeting the suggested fruit intake,"(4) said Rampersaud. "This study suggests that encouraging grapefruit consumption in women may not only help them meet their recommended intake for fruits, but also support enhanced intakes of key nutrients. This may lead to better overall diet quality and related health benefits, including favorable effects on risk factors related to chronic diseases or other conditions such as metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease."

This research was supported by the Florida Department of Citrus and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Throughout the study, the researchers maintained independent control over the analysis.