Diet like it’s 1939… or ’79…or ’89. Originally dubbed “The Hollywood Diet,” grapefruit has been an integral part of fad diets throughout the ages. Popularized for its low calories and alleged fat-burning power, grapefruit may be considered the stereotypical diet food likely to be found on any weight loss plan. But perhaps the grapefruit craze isn’t so crazy after all. New research from the University of California, Berkeley suggests grapefruit juice might actually be beneficial for successful weight maintenance.

In the study, different groups of mice were offered freshly squeezed, pulp-free, slightly sweetened grapefruit juice or sweetened water, both providing 75 calories per cup, to drink with either a high- or low-fat diet. After 100 days of testing, mice that ate a high-fat diet and drank grapefruit juice weighed 18.4% less than the mice on the same diet that drank sweetened water. Grapefruit juice drinkers also had 13% lower fasting blood sugar, 72% lower fasting insulin, and 38% lower liver triglycerides than the water drinkers, all signs of metabolic health.

These results sound promising, but go easy on the juicer. Though mice that drank grapefruit juice weighed less than those downing water, the water used in this study was sweetened and provided the same amount of calories as the juice. Mice drank what would be an equivalent of 3.5 to 4 cups of juice per day for a 150- pound person, which would amount to an additional 300 calories per day. We don’t suggest swapping out all your daily water for grapefruit juice, but perhaps sipping a glass with your breakfast could help achieve your weight maintenance goals. Plus, grapefruit juice is an excellent source of vitamin C and is packed with the flavonoid naringenin, both powerful antioxidants that offer several health benefits.

Our advice? Include grapefruit juice in your diet, but count it as a serving of fruit and keep on drinking water to ensure calories stay in check. If possible, squeeze your own juice at home so you have control over freshness and sugar content. You can also utilize grapefruit juice in recipes, like in our Garden Rainbow vegetable plate. Using fresh grapefruit juice to create a light and flavorful vinaigrette, this vibrant dish could offer a slightly sweet crunch towards managing your weight.

Published January 1, 2015