Grapefruits have a very recent history, having been discovered in Barbados in the 18th century. Many botanists think the grapefruit was actually the result of a natural cross which occurred between the orange and the pomelo, a citrus fruit that was brought from Indonesia to Barbados in the 17th century.
The resulting fruit was given the name “grapefruit” in 1814 in Jamaica, because they hang in clusters just like grapes.
Grapefruit trees were planted in Florida in the early 19th century, although they did not become a viable commercial crop until later that century. Florida is still a major producer of grapefruits, as is California, Arizona and Texas, other countries that produce grapefruits commercially include Israel, South Africa and Brazil.
Grapefruit, whose botanical name means “fruit of paradise,” is a relative of the orange lemon and pomelo. Grapefruits are categorized as red, pink or white by their interior color. Low in calories, high in fiber and phytonutrients, grapefruit is a healthy dietary choice.
Grapefruits usually range in diameter from four to six inches, with some varieties featuring seeds while others are seedless. It is juicy, tart and tangy with an underlying sweetness.
You can get many benefits from grapefruit because it contains essential elements such as iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folic acid and B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin and niacin).
1. Grapefruit Helps in Losing Weight
Grapefruit is high in enzymes that burn fats, has high water content and has less sodium. A combination of these three characteristics make grapefruit a perfect food for increasing your body’s metabolism. Try eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice every day and you will notice how quickly you lose those extra pounds.
Doctors have found that eating grapefruit lowers insulin, which means that instead of storing sugars and converting them to fat the body uses them as fuel. This leads to weight loss. A study of overweight men and women found that eating just a half of a grapefruit per day could lead to as much as a 10 pound weight loss over the course of a few weeks. Those results will not be typical for everyone, but they were enough to convince doctors that grapefruits not only give you the vitamins that your body needs they also can help you get rid of fat that your body doesn’t need.
2. Prevents Arthritis and Works as an Antiseptic
Grapefruit contains salicylic acid that helps break down the body’s inorganic calcium, which builds up in the cartilage of joints and may lead to arthritis. If you have arthritis, try drinking grapefruit juice and you should notice a reduction in your arthritis symptoms.
The salicylic acid in grapefruit also works as a powerful antiseptic. In addition, grapefruit seed extracts can be added to water to make an antiseptic spray for treating bacterial and fungal infections.
3. Helps in Cancer Prevention
Lycopene is a carotenoid pigment that is responsible for the red color of grapefruit. It is a powerful agent against tumors and cancers as it acts as a scavenger of cancer-causing free radicals. Lycopene works best with vitamins A and C, which are also found in grapefruit.
An antioxidant compound, called naringenin, is also found in grapefruit. Naringenin helps repair damaged DNA in prostate cancer cells. DNA repair contributes to cancer prevention as it impedes the reproduction of cancer cells.
4. Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels
One of the biggest health benefits of eating grapefruits regularly is that grapefruits are effective in lowering your cholesterol. Millions of people suffer from high cholesterol, which can be dangerous if left untreated. Medications that are designed to manage your cholesterol levels work well for many people but doctors also recommend dietary changes for people who want to lower their cholesterol. One of the dietary changes that is often recommended for people with high cholesterol instead of medication is to start eating a grapefruit everyday.
On average most studies concluded that eating grapefruits regularly can decrease cholesterol levels by 15 % and can decrease triglyceride levels up to 17%. Triglycerides are usually considered to be “bad cholesterol” and are what cholesterol medication tries to reduce. Eating grapefruits can reduce your bad cholesterol naturally without expensive medications.
5. Treats Common Ailments
Eating grapefruit or drinking its juice helps treat common cold and fever, dissolve gallstones, boost liver function and enhance immunity against infections. As grapefruit contains a dietary fiber called pectin, it thus promotes better digestion.
OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS
Grapefruit has the ability to stifle the appetite. Some studies show that just the smell of grapefruit can reduce the feeling of hunger. Additionally, the high fiber content in grapefruit can help those eating it to feel fuller and can help prevent people from overeating while also providing great health benefits. Grapefruits are a common element of many weight loss plans.
Several other great health benefits have been attributed to grapefruit. For example, consuming grapefruit juice before going to bed is said to promote healthy sleep and prevent insomnia. Additionally, the salicylic acid in grapefruit is sometimes used as an antiseptic for treating bacterial and fungal infections. Some say that eating grapefruit regularly also contributes to healthier and smoother skin, while others extract oil from grapefruit peels to be used for aromatherapy.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
A good grapefruit doesn’t have to be perfect in color. Skin discoloration, scratches or scales may affect the appearance of a grapefruit, but they do not impact the taste or texture quality.
Signs of decay include an overly soft spot at the stem end of the fruit and areas that appear water-soaked.
The fruits should be heavy for their size. Those with thin skins normally have a higher concentration of juice. Those that have overly rough or wrinkled skin usually tend to be thick skinned and have less flesh and are not as juicy.
Grapefruits should be firm, yet slightly springy when gentle pressure is applied. While chilled grapefruits do not have an apparent fragrance, those kept at room temperature should have a subtly sweet aroma. Grapefruits can be purchased throughout the year, although the height of the season ranges from winter through early spring.
Grapefruits are juicier when they’re slightly warm rather than cool, so if you are planning on consuming them within a week of purchase store them at room temperature. If you will not be using them within this time period, store them in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep fresh for two to three weeks.
TIPS FOR PREPARING
Grapefruits like all other fruits should be rinsed under cool water before consuming since cutting into an unwashed fruit may transfer dirt or bacteria that may reside on the skin’s surface to the edible flesh.
Grapefruits are usually eaten fresh by slicing the fruit horizontally and scooping out sections of the halves with a spoon. To separate the flesh from the membrane you can either cut it with a sharp knife, a special curved-blade grapefruit knife, or a serrated grapefruit spoon. If there are seeds, you can remove them with your spoon before you eat the grapefruit.
Grapefruits can also be eaten in sections like oranges. You can peel them with your hands or with a knife.
Another way to serve grapefruit is to peel and slice them.
HOW TO ENJOY
- Add grapefruit sections to your fruit salad or green salad.
- Have a glass of grapefruit juice in the morning.
- Combine diced grapefruit with cilantro and chili peppers to make a unique salsa.
- To enjoy a salad with a tropical flair, combine chopped grapefruit pieces, cooked or broiled fish and avocadoes and serve on a bed of romaine lettuce.
Grapefruit has a negative reaction against many prescription drugs such as those used in treating depression, allergies, high blood pressure, seizures, impotence, heart palpitations, etc.
Certain pharmaceutical drugs, when combined with grapefruit become more potent. Compounds in grapefruit, including naringenin, slow the normal detoxification and metabolism processes in the intestines and liver, which hinders the body’s ability to breakdown and eliminate these drugs.
Keep in mind that some medications do advise against taking a dose with grapefruit juice. This tends to be particularly true for blood pressure medications. Check your medication labels carefully to see if you can take your medication with grapefruit juice, or ask a doctor if you have any questions about drug interactions with grapefruit.