Have you ever wondered whether there’s any real benefit to following a grapefruit diet? Does it really work? According to researchers at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, grapefruit does help when it comes to shedding pounds — but only modestly.
The researchers based this health advice on a recent clinical trial they conducted. They noted at the outset of the study that reducing dietary energy density has proven to be an effective strategy to promote weight control. This effect appears most strong when a low-energy dense “preload” is eaten before meals. In other words, eating foods low in energy output before a meal, should, in theory, help to control weight. What is up for debate, according to the research team, is what the best food would be for the preload. So they set out to investigate the effects of grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and water preloads consumed before meals.
Eighty-five obese adults participated in the study. After completing two weeks of calorie-restricted meals, the participants were randomly assigned to 127 grams of grapefruit, grapefruit juice, or water preload for 12 weeks. The researchers were careful to match preloads according to weight, calories, water content, and energy density. They took weekly tests to measure blood pressure, weight, physical size, and 24-hour dietary intakes. The total amount of food eaten by the participants did not change over the course of the 12 weeks.
The research team found that, after preloads were combined with caloric restriction, average dietary energy density and total energy intakes decreased by 20%-29% from baseline values. The study participants experienced a 7.1% weight loss overall. Significant decreases in percentage body fat, as well as waist circumferences, were recorded. However, differences were not statistically significant among groups. It seems that it didn’t matter what type of preload the participants used; only that they had something before their main meals.
Results were more striking when it came to cholesterol levels. The amount and direction of change in HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the grapefruit group was +6.2% and, in the grapefruit juice group, +8.2%. Compare this with a drop of 3.7% in the water preload group!
Whatever the final word is around grapefruit and weight management, it sounds like the fruit can offer a boost to your nutritional health in the form of improved HDL cholesterol levels.
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