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6 Surprising Health Benefits (and 2 Dangers) of Grapefruit

You may have heard that grapefruit can help you lose weight, but did you know it also can improve your skin? Read on for unique ways to use the tasty fruit, as well as a few dangers to watch out for.

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Grapefruit benefit: Fight signs of aging

Grapefruit contains retinol antioxidants that help repair damaged skin and fight the development of fine lines and wrinkles. The fruit also contains a compound called spermidine. A 2009 study found that when spermidine was added to mice diets, it slowed the cell aging process. Try a grapefruit face mask once a week to improve your skin. Mix 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, and juice from 1/2 of a grapefruit.

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Grapefruit danger: Interactions with medications

Due to compounds called furanocoumarins, grapefruit juice can interact with certain medications and dangerously increase their potency. “Taking one tablet of certain medications with a glass of grapefruit juice can be like taking five tablets with water,” according to David Bailey, PhD, a clinical pharmacologist at the Lawson Health Research Institute and lead researcher on a study of drugs that interact badly with the juice. A single grapefruit or glass of juice, even if consumed hours before or after taking a drug, is enough to cause a reaction. Check with your doctor to see if any medications you take are affected by grapefruits.

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Grapefruit benefit: Aid in weight loss

Dr. Taz Bhatia, a specialist in women’s health, weight loss, and nutrition, recommends drinking a glass of grapefruit juice to help suppress appetite. Grapefruit also contains the flavonoid naringin, which studies have shown may increase metabolism. Surprisingly, you might be able to lose weight from grapefruit without even eating it. Researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that exposing rats to the scent of grapefruit oil for 15-minute intervals helped lower their appetite and weight. Researchers believe it may have to do with how the smell interacts with liver enzymes.

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Grapefruit benefit: Combat oily skin

Grapefruit has natural astringent properties that rid your skin of excess oils and tighten pores. Look for facial products that contain grapefruit essential oil, or make your own toner by combining fresh grapefruit juice with lavender or mint in a small spray bottle. Spritz on your face for a cleansing refresher. Grapefruit also has antiseptic properties that help kill bacteria, clearing up acne outbreaks.

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Grapefruit benefit: Remove buildup on hair

Hair products can be a necessary part of your morning routine; but they also can damage hair, making it appear limp and lifeless. Grapefruit juice strips your hair of buildup and contains vitamins A and C to boost hair growth. Citrus products are also known to brighten hair, bringing out natural highlights. Give your hair a rinse with fresh grapefruit juice or look for products that contain it.

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Grapefruit danger: Lead to kidney stones

Kidney stones are caused by high urinary calcium. Grapefruit, apple, cranberry, and orange juice have all been shown to increase levels of calcium oxalate levels, which can lead to the formation of stones. While the research is inconclusive, people prone to kidney stones may want to avoid drinking large amounts of grapefruit juice.

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Grapefruit benefit: Lower cholesterol

In an Israeli study of 57 men and women who had bypass surgery and whose cholesterol levels weren’t responding to statin medications, those who ate a red grapefruit a day for 30 days lowered their total cholesterol by more than 15 percent, their LDL cholesterol by more than 20 percent, and their triglycerides by more than 17 percent. Grapefruit can have dangerous interactions with certain medications, including heart medications, so check with your doctor before adding grapefruit to your diet.

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Grapefruit benefit: Get rid of dandruff

Dandruff can be caused by a yeast-like fungus that lives on your scalp. Grapefruit juice contains a compound that helps to lower the amount of yeast in your system. Dr. Taz Bhatia recommends using grapefruit juice topically to help reduce dandruff and kill the fungus that causes dandruff. Grapefruit juice also removes buildup caused by hair products, which can contribute to dandruff.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest