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Not only are grapefruit low in calories, they also deliver pack important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Perhaps most impressive is grapefruit's vitamin C content. Half a grapefruit contains a notable 46 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C - half a day's worth. Vitamin C is especially important in the winter, because it's used to build a strong immune system. Vitamin C also acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting cells and body tissues from oxidative stress.
Pink and red grapefruit also contain lycopene, an antioxidant thought to guard against prostate, lung and stomach cancers. Preliminary research shows that lycopene may also play a role in the prevention of heart disease and macular degeneration (an age-related eye disease) disease.
On the downside, grapefruit does not mix with certain medications. Certain drugs, like cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, can cause serious, and occasionally life-threatening effects if consumed in combination with grapefruit, or grapefruit juice. Grapefruit can increase the effects of some medications by interfering with the way the body metabolizes them, potentially causing dangerously high amounts of medications to circulate in the blood.
Medications used to treat anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can all possibly interact with grapefruit juice, among others. For more information on grapefruit juice and possible drug interactions, please click here.
A Canada Food Guide serving of grapefruit is half of a fruit, which contains just 37 calories, 46 mg of vitamin C, as well as over 150 mg of potassium and 191 ug of beta-carotene.
Nutrient information per half of a grapefruit:
Source: Canadian Nutrient File, 2007b
Grapefruit are a subtropical fruit grown in warm climes, including the United States, South Africa, Argentina, Mexico and Cuba. In the United States, the harvesting and production of grapefruits occurs mainly in Florida, California, Texas and Arizona. Grapefruit are in season, and at their best, from winter through to early spring.
Grapefruit are distinguishable by their large, round shape, ranging in size from 10 to 15 centimetres, and have an orangey-yellow rind. The flesh of grapefruit be red, pink or white. Grapefruit are available with seeds or as a seedless fruit.
When purchasing fresh grapefruit, choose fruit that is heavy for its size, as this indicates a high degree of freshness. While skin discoloration, or small blemishes on the rind may not look appealing, usually they don’t jeopardize the quality and taste of a grapefruit.
Avoid fruit that are overly soft; grapefruit should be firm, and slightly springy when light pressure is applied. Fresh grapefruit stored at room temperature should have a sweet aroma.
Grapefruit are juicier when they’re stored at room temperature. If you plan on eating fresh grapefruit within a few days of purchase, store them at room temperature on the counter. Otherwise store grapefruit in the fridge where they will keep for two to three weeks.
Even though the skin of a grapefruit is never consumed, it’s wise to wash the fruit under cool, running water before cutting and eating. This helps prevent dirt or bacteria from the skin’s surface transferring to the edible flesh when the fruit is cut.
Grapefruit Halves: Cut fruit in half crosswise. With a sharp paring knife or serrated grapefruit knife cut the pulp from the membrane in each section. Run the knife around the outside edge of the pulp; do not cut into the bitter white membrane. With scissors, cut around the core and lift it out. Sweeten, if desired, with sugar, syrup or honey. Chill before serving
Grapefruit Sections: Place the washed fruit on a board. Using a sharp knife pare the rind from the fruit, removing all white skin. Cut out one section by cutting along the inside of the membranes on each side of the section.
Subsequent sections can be easily removed by cutting down the opposite side of the membrane already expose and, with an upward turn of the knife along the next membrane, flicking out the next section. Sweeten the sections if necessary.
There are countless ways to enjoy grapefruit whether you eat them on their own, add them to salad and smoothies or broil them for a healthy dessert.
Healthy ways to enjoy
• Add grapefruit sections to a morning smoothie.
• Make a tropical fresh fruit salad with grapefruit sections, kiwi, pineapple and mango.
• Make fruit skewers by threading pieces of grapefruit, banana and strawberries onto wooden skewers. Dip fruit into low-fat yogurt drizzle with honey.
• Add a handful of grapefruit sections or slices to a leafy green salad.
• Toss grapefruit pieces with grilled shrimp, avocado and cilantro for a refreshing and healthy lunch.
• Make a tangy salsa to serve with grilled fish or chicken by tossing together chopped grapefruit sections, cilantro, avocado and red chili peppers.
• Add grapefruit slices to a marinade for chicken and fish.
• Stir-fry pieces of pork-tenderloin or chicken breast with slices of grapefruit and loads of veggies for a refreshing stir-fry.
• Serve grilled or broiled grapefruit for dessert with low-fat ice cream or frozen yogurt.
Did you know?
• When first discovered, grapefruit was named the “forbidden fruit”.
• Before the 19th century, grapefruit was used as an ornamental plant.
• In Spanish, the grapefruit is known as “toronja”, or “pomelo”.
With their juicy texture and crisp tart taste, grapefruit are a treat during the winter months. Like all citrus fruit, grapefruit are exceptionally low in calories yet packed with an impressive range of nutrients and disease-fighting phytochemicals. In fact, researchers have linked a diet high in citrus fruit with protection against certain cancers, heart disease and stroke. This month we're taking our hats off to one of our favourite fruits - grapefruit!
Here's a decadent recipe that was published in the Toronto Star in May 2008 and is an unusual…
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