Grapefruit is one of the healthiest fruits with high medicinal value. The preferred breakfast choice of many, grapefruit is a cross between an orange and a pomelo. This citrus fruit is orange, pink, yellow or white and tastes sour to semi-sweet. But can pregnant women eat this fruit? If yes, how much of it can they eat safely and how will they benefit from it?
MomJunction will address these and many more questions in this article about grapefruit during pregnancy.
Is It Safe To Eat Grapefruit During Pregnancy?
Yes, grapefruit is rich in nutrients and vitamins, which makes it safe and healthy for pregnant women (1). It contains the B complex vitamins, calcium, and potassium, all of which are essential for the growth of the baby. The only thing you should worry about is how the fruit is grown: organic grapefruit varieties should be preferred, and the fruit washed properly before consumption. Unwashed produce contains harmful microbes which could lead to foodborne illnesses.
Most people eat the fruit, while some prefer its juice.
Can You Drink Grapefruit Juice While Pregnant?
You can drink grapefruit juice only if it is 100% real or homemade (2). Avoid juices available in packaged bottles as the most of the fruit’s nutrients are lost during the manufacturing process.
Health Benefits Of Eating Grapefruit While Pregnant
Grapefruit has the potential to cure a number of ailments during pregnancy.
1. Controls preeclampsia:
Preeclampsia can lead to premature separation of the placenta from the uterus (before the baby is born), heavy bleeding, rupture of the liver and in rare cases death (3). Grapefruit can work wonders in controlling preeclampsia to a large extent. The good level of potassium and lycopene in this fruit prevent any blood pressure issues (4).
2. Relieves insomnia:
Grapefruit, when taken before bedtime, helps relieve signs and symptoms of insomnia, which most pregnant women suffer from (5).
3. Beats cholesterol:
Grapefruit is packed with lycopene and has high fiber and water content, which help in keeping the cholesterol levels low (6).
4. Maintains a healthy weight:
Weight gain during pregnancy can be rapid or gradual. Grapefruit, as a snack or meal accompaniment, helps manage weight and suppresses extreme or quick weight gain (7).
5. Treats heartburn and indigestion:
As the uterus grows, the other organs in the body are cramped for space, which could lead to heartburn and indigestion. Grapefruit contains D-limonene which has gastric acid-neutralizing properties. Consuming one fruit every morning can relieve heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) (8).
6. Cuts down anemia:
Mild anemia during pregnancy is not uncommon. But it can become severe if you do not include the right foods in your diet. Grapefruit, being rich in vitamin C, helps your body absorb iron and can reduce the risk of anemia (9).
7. Prevents asthma:
Studies show that a diet rich in vitamin C can actually bring down the risk of developing asthma. Though the baby may not acquire this condition from the mom, the baby’s development may be affected if the mom has asthma (10). Grapefruit, with its abundant flavonoids and lycopene, lowers the incidence of asthma in pregnancy (4).
8. Offers calcium and aids bone density:
Grapefruit contains good amounts of calcium, which is an essential nutrient during pregnancy. Regular consumption of grapefruit juice can help improve bone quality and density in mother and baby (11).
9. Hydrating and treats constipation:
It is important to stay hydrated through your pregnancy, especially during the summer months. Grapefruit has higher water content when compared to other fruits (91%) and is rich in electrolytes, which makes it an excellent natural remedy for dehydration (12). Also, the high dietary fiber in this fruit makes it an excellent cure for constipation (13).
10. Treats cold and flu:
The vitamin C present in grapefruit aids in treating cold and flu. Also, the flavonoids in the fruit improve your immunity levels (14).
11. Treats diabetes and sugar problems:
Gestational diabetes is often associated with increased birth weight in the baby and other labor complications. Grapefruit has low levels of sugar and helps in reducing starch in the system while increasing insulin resistance in the body. Also, taking half a grapefruit before meals is a proven method to reduce body weight (15).
Although consuming grapefruit is healthy during pregnancy, there are certain limitations you should know about.
Risk Of Eating Too Much Grapefruit During Pregnancy
Excessive consumption of grapefruit can increase fructose levels, which can be harmful to the placenta and alter the fetal growth (16).
Also, eating grapefruit is not recommended if you have –
- Kidney or hepatic illnesses
- Stomach or duodenal ulcers
- A history of allergies
Grapefruit should not be eaten on an empty stomach or in combination with certain medications (17). Even otherwise, it is important to regulate the amount of grapefruit you eat every day.
How Much Grapefruit Is Safe During Pregnancy?
You require 85mg of vitamin C per day (18), which is equivalent to one medium grapefruit or around eight ounces of grapefruit juice.
Anything more than the recommended amount is not good, no matter how nutritious grapefruits are.
Nutritional Value Of Grapefruit
The nutrient value of raw, red or pink grapefruits per 100gms serving is as follows (19):
Safe Ways To Include Grapefruit In A Pregnancy Diet
Grapefruit can be included in:
- Fresh juices, smoothies or fruit salads
- Healthy cocktails made with a combination of grapefruit with other fruits of your choice
- Tea; the fruit’s skin can be brewed to make a rejuvenating drink that helps fight nausea.
Here are a few grapefruit recipes that you may try when you are pregnant.
1. Grapefruit and peach salad
You will need:
- 1 large grapefruit
- 2 large peaches, ripened
- 1tbsp agave nectar
- ½tsp orange blossom water
- 10 mint leaves, fresh
- 50g pistachio nuts, finely chopped
- Combine agave nectar and orange blossom water in a small bowl.
- Remove the skin and pith of the grapefruit, and cut into slices.
- Cut the peaches into slices, and remove the pith.
- Mix all of these in the bowl.
- Add the mint and sprinkle chopped pistachios before serving the salad.
2. Grapefruit green smoothie:
You will need:
- 1 grapefruit, peeled and deseeded
- 1 sweet apple, peeled and cored
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 large banana, ripened
- 1-2 cup unsweetened almond milk, orange juice, and water
- 2-3 ice cubes
- 1/2tsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (optional)
- Add all the ingredients in a blender.
- Blend until you get a smooth and creamy consistency.
- Add more liquid or ice if it is too thick. Add apple or banana to sweeten.
Preparation time – 10 minutes
Servings – 2
If you still have concerns about grapefruit consumption, check with your doctor before including it in your diet.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Does craving grapefruit during pregnancy tell something about baby’s gender?
According to old wives tales, craving sour foods such as grapefruits can indicate that you are carrying a boy. However, it is just one of the ways to guess the sex but not a reliable gender prediction method.
2. Is grapefruit seed extract safe during pregnancy?
Though grapefruit is safe during pregnancy, its seed or even fruit extract is not proven to be safe. Grapefruit seed extract is toxic to skin fibroblasts (cells within dermis layer) and is best avoided.