Uses and Benefits: Grapefruits Vs. Oranges

Grapefruits on a wooden table.
Cut grapefruit on a wooden table. (Image: ValentynVolkov/iStock/Getty Images)

Food battles range from who makes the better slice of New York thin crust pizza to who has the hotter chicken wings. In the battle of oranges versus grapefruit, there are no real losers, as Harvard School of Public Health recommends people obtain nine servings or 4 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables daily. When deciding between the two fruits, very little determines why one should be eaten over the other. It may be best to enjoy both of them and the benefits each has to offer.

Nutrition

Both oranges and grapefruit are similarly matched in terms of being low calorie with zero fat, cholesterol or sodium. Eating a whole medium orange will provide 80 calories versus 60 calories when eating a half of a grapefruit. Oranges have overall higher carbohydrates, breaking down into more grams of sugar and fiber than grapefruit. Oranges provide more vitamin C, offering 130 percent of the daily needs as well as being higher in selenium and one of the B vitamins, thiamin. Oranges also have slightly more folate than grapefruits. On the other hand, grapefruits have significantly more vitamin A at 35 percent versus 2 percent and slightly more phosphorus, while still providing 100 percent of the daily dose of vitamin C.

Orange Uses

Oranges are commonly eaten whole or juiced. The rind can be zested to add flavor to recipes, and the more sour varieties can be made into marmalades to help sweeten them. The blossoms from the orange tree are commonly used in teas and as decorative touches in some Asian countries. The peel can be used as a slug repellent for gardeners, and a special type of honey can be made by having bees in citrus groves during bloom. This honey is called orange blossom honey and picks up the flavor of oranges.

Grapefruit Uses

Grapefruits are often eaten halved with sugar or other sweeteners on top while the inside is cut away from the peel with a knife or a spoon. The juice is also popular as a breakfast beverage. When not eaten fresh, grapefruit is a popular fruit in canned fruit cup and fruit salad mixes. In a few countries such as Australia, grapefruit is enjoyed as a marmalade or jelly. The peel of the fruit can be candied and used as a source of pectin for preservation of other fruits. The peel oil is used to flavor many different sodas as well as enhance the flavor of other juices.

Medication Interactions

People who take medications for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, anxiety or other psychological drugs need to check with a doctor before eating grapefruit in any form. The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide states certain enzymes in grapefruit juices and two species of oranges, Seville and tangelos, interfere with medication absorption at the level of the gut. While the enzymes decrease absorption of the medications by as much as 47 percent, this interaction can simultaneously cause the medications to reach the bloodstream more quickly, causing a faster reaction to the drug than intended. For those who like fruit in the morning with their meds, oranges are the safer choice.

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