Latin Name: Citrus Paradisi
What is a Grapefruit?
A popular accompaniment to breakfast, the grapefruit is renowned for its high vitamin C content. The name grapefruit derives from the clusters in which the fruit grows, similar to grapes. Today, grapefruit can be found in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, with and without seeds, and varying in color from white to yellow, pink, and red. The taste of grapefruit ranges from astringent and bitter to sweet and tart.
The grapefruit, which first appeared in Barbados in the eighteenth century, is a hybrid that combines the Indonesian pomelo with the Jamaican sweet orange. A year after the patent of the “Ruby Red” variety in 1929, its popularity grew to the point of having a diet based upon its consumption.
What are the health benefits of Grapefruit?
According to traditional Chinese medicine, grapefruit has a cooling affect on the body. Eating this fruit is thought to be especially helpful for those people suffering from weak digestion, a decreased appetite, stomach fullness, alcohol intoxication, and dry cough.
Nutritionally, the grapefruit is rich in vitamin C and A, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. Grapefruit contains pectin, a form of soluble fiber that has been found in studies with animals to slow the progression of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In addition, this fruit also has a low glycemic index, meaning that it gradually releases glucose into the blood stream over a long period of time.
As a powerhouse source of vitamin C, grapefruit helps support the immune system. Grapefruit also boasts a high content of free-radical–fighting phytonutrients, including limonoids and lycopene. A recent study found that men who ate foods high in lycopene, including the rich red-orange grapefruit varieties, were far less likely to develop prostate cancer than those men eating a diet low in lycopene. In addition, grapefruit lowers cholesterol and triglycerides levels, decreases risk of kidney stones, protects against colon and lung cancer, and may help prevent weight gain by lowering insulin levels.
Are there any precautions for eating Grapefruit?
If taking pharmaceutical drugs, check with your physician that grapefruit is not affecting your medications. Compounds in grapefruit can cause certain drugs to become more potent. For example, statin drugs, when combined with grapefruit, become more potent in the body and transport more of the statin drug in the circulation than usual; these raised levels of statin could trigger a rare but serious disease called rhabdomyolysis.
Where can I find Grapefruit?
Grapefruit can be found in most grocery stores and are sometimes offered through mail order, fresh from Florida or California, where they are in season from winter to early spring.
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