The delicious and the nutritious chemicals in grapefruit!

When we eat our food, we often don’t think about all the delicious and nutritious chemicals we are consuming. Most of the time, the only chemicals we think about in our food are the ones we consider “bad” like pesticides, preservatives, etc., but most of the chemicals we are eating are actually good for us! Of course, consuming in moderation is always key.

I was eating a grapefruit this morning and thought, why not take a photo and list all of the “friendly” and interesting chemicals in this yummy and juicy fruit. Actually, to be honest, this was prompted by a discussion about how we eat our grapefruit. Apparently, not everyone eats is by slicing it along the pith (or with a grapefruit spoon), but that’s another story! I can’t list ALL of the chemicals in a grapefruit, but I will happily point out some of the most notable ones!


Vitamin CVitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is probably the most famous chemical compound in citrus fruits. Did you know that vitamin C is a vitamer? This means that some molecules are so similar to the molecule shown to the right that they have the same function in the body and are also referred to as vitamin C! The reason this molecule gets so much hype is due to a small fraction of its functions, which include:

  • boosting the immune system (Did you know that whether or not vitamin C does anything to boost your immune system, or if it does this in conjunction with other nutrients is not well known? That being said, there are definitely studies that have shown a strong correlation between vitamin C and the immune system during infection. Here is one for example.)
  • acting as an antihistamine
  • its role as an antioxidant (degrades and stops the formation of harmful radicals in the body)

Vitamin C is a really interesting chemical and deserves a blog post all on its own (stay tuned!)

chems in grapefruitActually, many of the cool compounds in grapefruit are deserved of their very own posts. Let’s take a brief look at some of the them:potassium



Grapefruits and grapefruit juice have a couple other interesting and important effects:

  1. A study done by researchers at the University of Chicago suggests that A daily glass of grapefruit juice lets patients derive the same benefits from an anti-cancer drug as they would get from more than three times as much of the drug by itself” This means that cancer patients on this drug can take less of it if they drink grapefruit juice!
  2. Did you know that eating grapefruits or drinking grapefruit juice can prevent certain medications from working even if you consumed it a couple of days before taking the medication? Not only can it prevent the function of the medication, but it can also increase the potential side effects. This is for similar reasons that it boosts the effects of the cancer meds.  To put it simply, enzymes in grapefruit can compete with the metabolic function of specific drugs. I had an interesting discussion with my pharmacist about this recently. When in doubt, just avoid grapefruit, but ask your doctor or pharmacist if you want to be certain- especially if you will be taking the medication for a long period of time. This article provides more detailed information as well as a list of specific drugs that grapefruits can interact with.


Image credits:

Potassium pearls- By Jurii via Wikimedia Commons

The rest is © Chemicals Are Your Friends

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: