Tart and tangy with an underlying sweetness, grapefruit has a juiciness that rivals that of the ever popular orange and sparkles with many of the same health promoting benefits. Although available throughout the year, they are in season and at their best from winter through early spring.
Grapefruits usually range in diameter from four to six inches and include both seed and seedless and pink and white varieties. The wonderful flavor of a grapefruit is like paradise as is expressed by its Latin name, Citrus paradisi.
The Gossip on Grapefruit
Botanical name: Citrus paradisi
If you're looking for a juicy burst of flavor that's as refreshing as anything you'll ever eat, grapefruits certainly deliver. Large in comparison to other citrus fruits, grapefruits could be described as mouth-wateringly tart with a hint of sweetness – somewhere between a lemonand an orange.
Grapefruits are tasty all by themselves or added to any type of fruit or green salad. They're also a unique and delicious addition to salsa. Grapefruits have a smooth, easily peel-able skin, but it's the color of the flesh inside that determines whether it's a white (blonde), pink, or ruby grapefruit.
Possibly a cross between an orange and a pomelo (an obscure citrus fruit transported from Taiwan to Barbados in the 17th century), grapefruits were discovered and transported from that region a century later. They underwent cultivation in Florida a hundred or so years later. The state still produces the lion's share of the U.S. crop, with help from other subtropical states like California, Arizona and Texas. Israel, Brazil, and South Africa are the major world suppliers of grapefruit.
Some grapefruit varieties are puckeringly sour and others succulently sweet. Some grapefruits are seedless, but most contain a handful of white seeds. Heavier fruits often indicate thinner skin and juicier flesh. If they're rough, lumpy or wrinkled, they may be thick-skinned and dry.
Grapefruits should be firm and give a bit when pressed, but not too spongy. Once they reach your kitchen, keep them at room temperature if they'll be eaten within a week; otherwise keep them refrigerated. Before peeling, always wash them thoroughly because any germs on the outside can and will reach the edible part of the fruit.
You can section and eat grapefruits as you would an orange, but one popular way involves slicing them in half around the middle, using a paring knife to cut each section between the membranes, and removing with a spoon. This takes a minute, but it's worth it! The riper they are, the better, not just taste-wise, but in the antioxidant power they offer.
Health Benefits of Grapefruit
A very good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, grapefruits provide an amazingly healthy wallop of nutrition with 120 percent and 53 percent of the recommended daily value, respectively. Grapefruits are also a good source of dietary fiber, which decreases the transit time in the colon.
A wide assortment of other vitamins and minerals also are part of this fruit's make-up, but principally from potassium, which is important for the make-up of cell and body fluids and in controlling the heart rate and blood pressure. Grapefruits also contain folate, thiamin, vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium, as well as lesser amounts of many more phytonutrients.
Vitamin C, of course, is associated with increased immunity to infection, but also shows remarkable reduction in inflammation, even in conditions like asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Of all fruit juices, grapefruitjuice is ranked among the highest in the antioxidants it provides, just ahead of cloudy apple juice, purple grape juice, and cranberry juice.
Health experts advise including an assortment to your juice-drinking repertoire to achieve the optimum array of antioxidant power. Make sure you always choose 100 percent juice – otherwise, you'll most likely be ingesting unwanted high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Interestingly, one cup of white grapefruit contains slightly fewer calories than pink: 76 vs. 97, and fewer carbs. But while the vitamin C content in white grapefruit has similar value at 128 percent compared with pink, the vitamin A content is greatly diminished from 53 percent to 2 percent.
Red grapefruit contains a bit more flavonoids and anthocyanins, while another nutritional difference between white and pink grapefruit is that the rosy flush reflects lycopene content not seen in white varieties. This is the same compound that provides the color in tomatoes, apricots, papaya, and watermelon. Lycopene lowers triglycerides, contains the highest capacity among all the carotenoids to help fight free radical damage, and protects the skin from UV rays.
Here's a dramatic statistic: comparing men who eat lycopene-rich foods the most with those who eat the least, the former group is 82 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer.
Another study shows that eating grapefruit can lower the risk of developing kidney stones. Limonin, another phytonutrient, suppresses cancerous cell and tumor growth. The pectin in grapefruits inhibits hardening of the arteries and lowers the LDL or "bad" cholesterol, in fact reducing it dramatically in a matter of days in even low amounts. And the flavonoid naringinen, inhibits hepatitis C virus, repairs DNA in prostate cancer cells and may prevent dyslipidemia (high blood cholesterol) and diabetes.1
However, consume grapefruit in moderation because they contain fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Note: eating grapefruit may, in rare cases, interfere with certain medications, so you may want to discuss this with your doctor.