Grapefruit And Diabetes: Managing Blood Sugar

  • Waliyat LasisiBachelor of Science in Nursing Studies, Adult Health Nurse/Nursing, University of Derby


Diabetes is a metabolic health condition that messes with how our bodies handle sugar. It is like a puzzle where the pieces don't quite fit, making it tough to keep our blood sugar levels in check. Your meal plan doesn’t have to be boring and too restrictive just because you are diabetic. You can always explore some of the varieties nature has to offer provided it is safe and won’t worsen your condition. Grapefruit is one of which has been proven to be beneficial to people living with diabetes.

In this article, we will be discussing diabetes and its types, and also explore how adding grapefruit to your meals could be a tasty way to manage blood sugar. Consider this article a mini-guide to understanding diabetes and discovering how grapefruit can be a helpful companion in maintaining your blood sugar level within the target range.

Understanding diabetes

Diabetes, also scientifically known as diabetes mellitus, is a chronic long-term metabolic health condition that causes high blood glucose or blood sugar.1

It affects how the body utilizes glucose for energy. Normally, when you eat, your body breaks down most of the food into a simple form of sugar called glucose. It is then released into the bloodstream to be used up as energy by the body. 

When the blood sugar increases, it signals the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin helps lower the blood sugar level by opening up the body cells for the blood glucose to move in. The glucose is either utilized immediately or reserved within the cells for later use. 

For people with diabetes, this is not the case. Either their pancreas does not make enough insulin, or their body cells are not responding to insulin, thereby leaving too much glucose/sugar in the bloodstream. It could further lead to complications such as high blood pressure, kidney problems and vision problems.

Types of diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes.2 

1.) Type 1 diabetes: also known as insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes. It occurs as a result of the body producing little to no insulin and thus requires daily administration of insulin. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. It is less common than type 2 diabetes. The cause and prevention of type 1 diabetes is unknown.

2.) Type 2 diabetes: it occurs either as a result of the body not making enough insulin or the body cells not responding properly to insulin. This is the most prevalent type of diabetes. A number of risk factors could lead to type 2 diabetes, for example, being overweight and having a family history of type 2 diabetes. Knowing and managing the risk factors can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Importance of managing blood sugar level

It is important to keep your blood sugar level within the target range as it is essential to prevent the development of long-term complications such as heart disease, kidney disease, and vision problems.3

Grapefruit and its nutritional profile

Grapefruit is a subtropical citrus tree known for its relatively large, sour to semi-sweet, and somewhat bitter fruit. It is low in calories and has lots of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and other nutrients. There are different varieties of grapefruit ranging from white to pink.

An average-sized grapefruit contains over half of the recommended daily vitamin C intake.4,5 Grapefruit is especially high in vitamin C which is important for immune function and skin health. It is also rich in fibre, potassium, and antioxidants that offer many health benefits, one of which being regulating blood glucose levels.

Grapefruit for better blood sugar control

Contrary to the misconception that people with diabetes are to avoid every sweet and sugary thing, including fruits, they can still eat some fruits including grapefruit.

Studies have shown that grapefruit may contribute to the control of blood sugar levels.6 Grapefruit’s low carbohydrate and high fibre content can slow down the digestion and absorption of sugar, allowing sugar to be slowly released into the bloodstream and preventing a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. The glycemic index (GI) is a rating system that measures how quickly a kind of food affects the blood sugar level. Grapefruit scores a fairly low GI number of 22, compared to the moderate GI level of 56-69.7

Grapefruit is also rich in antioxidants. Among them, a flavonoid called naringenin can protect cells and improve insulin sensitivity, helping cells respond more effectively to insulin and promoting better blood sugar control.7

Health benefits of grapefruit

Aside from managing blood sugar levels, grapefruit also benefits other health aspects including:

  • Heart health: grapefruit's fibre, potassium, and antioxidants promote heart health by lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • Weight management: including grapefruit in a balanced diet may aid in weight loss due to its high fibre content that makes you feel fuller for longer periods and eat less
  • Gut health: it helps in preventing constipation and promotes the growth of good bacteria
  • Antioxidant properties: antioxidants such as lycopene, flavonoids, and carotenoids have been associated with various health benefits, including protection against oxidative stress and cancer cells

Adding grapefruit to your diet

As an individual with diabetes, you must be mindful of what you eat. It has been made known that grapefruit is a good choice of fruit to add to your diet due to its high fibre content that helps maintain your blood sugar level. 

Grapefruit can serve as a great dessert or snack for diabetic patients. It can also be taken for lunch. Due to its high fibre content, it will make you feel filled for a long period thereby making you eat less throughout the day. Not only is this going to help maintain your blood sugar level but also promotes your gut health.

As much as grapefruit is beneficial to the overall well-being, it is important not to be excessive with its consumption.

Grapefruit and medications

It is worth noting that grapefruit and grapefruit juice can affect the way the body breaks down medications. 

Studies have shown that grapefruit interacts and interferes with the metabolism of certain diabetic medications and some other classes of medication.9 It either reduces the amount of the drug or causes them to stay longer in the bloodstream thereby leading to individuals experiencing more side effects of the drug.

It is imperative to seek advice from your healthcare provider before taking grapefruit with any medication.

Healthy lifestyle tips 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial to the management of diabetes. Here are some tips on how to maintain your blood sugar level through healthy living:

1.) Regular exercise: The role exercise plays in the management of blood sugar can not be overemphasised, together with medical and nutrition management. The American Diabetes Association recommends that adults with diabetes should participate in 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous aerobic activity per week and 2 to 3 sessions of resistance activity per week. Regular exercise has been proven to prevent and minimize weight gain, improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose control, and improve cardiovascular well-being thereby preventing high blood pressure.10

2.) Diet modification: it is important to be careful and intentional about what you eat. People with diabetes are encouraged to take food that is high in fibre and low in sugar with a low glycemic index (GI). Making healthier food choices is important for managing your blood sugar level and reducing your chances of coming down with diabetes complications


Diabetes disrupts the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels. This imbalance can lead to severe complications, and as such, it is very important to keep your blood sugar level within the target range. While there are two main types of diabetes, both involve insufficient insulin actions. Lifestyle modifications, including a balanced diet, play an essential role in preventing complications.

Grapefruit is rich in vitamins, fibre, and antioxidants. Studies have shown that it is a beneficial fruit for those with diabetes. Due to its low glycemic index (GI) and the presence of compounds like naringenin which enhances insulin sensitivity, studies suggest that it has a high potential of controlling blood sugar. However, caution is advised regarding grapefruit interactions with medications.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and mindful dietary choices is paramount for diabetes management. While trying your best to control your blood sugar levels through lifestyle changing and healthy eating, it is also essential to consult your healthcare providers for personalized guidance and to ensure a holistic approach to diabetes management.


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  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 29]. What is diabetes? - niddk. Available from:
  3. Diabetes UK [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Complications of diabetes. Available from:
  4. Fooddata central [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
  5. Vitamins and minerals - Vitamin C. [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Mar 13]. Available from:
  6. Muraki I, Imamura F, Manson JE, Hu FB, Willett WC, van Dam RM, et al. Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ [Internet]. 2013 Sep 28 [cited 2023 Nov 29];347:f5001. Available from:
  7. Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Fruits Complete Chart. Glycemic Index Guide [Internet]. [cited 2024 Mar 13]. Available from:
  8. Salehi B, Fokou PVT, Sharifi-Rad M, Zucca P, Pezzani R, Martins N, et al. The therapeutic potential of naringenin: a review of clinical trials. Pharmaceuticals (Basel) [Internet]. 2019 Jan 10 [cited 2023 Nov 29];12(1):11. Available from:
  9. Commissioner O of the. Grapefruit juice and some drugs don’t mix. FDA [Internet]. 2021 Jul 14 [cited 2023 Nov 29]; Available from:
  10. Zahalka SJ, Abushamat LA, Scalzo RL, Reusch JEB. The role of exercise in diabetes. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Blackman MR, Boyce A, Chrousos G, Corpas E, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA):, Inc.; 2000 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Waliyat Lasisi Olaide

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Studies, Adult Health Nurse/Nursing, University of Derby

Conscientious Registered Nurse with diverse experience in clinical and occupational health settings. Currently serving in the NHS as a bedside nurse. Passionate about health education and advocacy, adept at communicating complex medical concepts effectively. Dedicated to promoting wellness and empowering individuals to lead healthier lives.

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