by Bree West
Grapefruit is a large, round citrus fruit related to the orange, lemon, and pomelo; it is juicy and tart but has an underlying sweetness. Grapefruits range in diameter from four to six inches and come in both seedless and seeded varieties. They are categorized as white, pink, or ruby based on the color of their flesh, not the color of their skin.
The grapefruit gained its name because it grows in clusters like grapes, but its Latin name, Citrus paradise, means "paradise." This fruit was first noticed in Barbados in 1750 and is thought to be the result of a natural cross-breeding between the orange and the pomelo. By 1880 the grapefruit had become an important commercial crop in Florida, which is still a major producer of grapefruit in the United States today, as is California, Texas and Arizona.Grapefruit pectin has been the subject of much research. Studies discovered that grapefruit pectin has similar cholesterol-lowering action to other fruit pectins. The edible part of grapefruit has about 3.9 percent, or about 7.5 grams of pectin per grapefruit. And, according to scientists, eating about two grapefruits a day can help to lower the risk for heart disease, the number one killer in America, by about twenty percent.
Eating grapefruit has also been shown to help normalize hematocrit levels. Hematocrit is the percentage of the volume of red blood cells to the total volume of blood. Normal hematocrit levels are about 40–54 percent for men and 37–47 percent for women. Low hematocrit levels usually are an indication of anemia, or low iron levels. High hematocrit levels may indicate severe dehydration or an increased number of red blood cells. A high hematocrit level is often associated with an increased risk for heart disease because it means that the blood is too thick.
A flavonoid called naringin, when isolated from grapefruit, has been shown to help eliminate old red blood cells, which helps to balance the hematocrit levels. Scientists have found that eating a half to one grapefruit a day helps to lower high hematocrit levels, but had no effect on normal hematocrit levels and actually increased low hematocrit levels.
Grapefruit, especially the deep red or pink colored varieties, is an excellent source of the carotene lycopene, an important phytochemical that helps to prevent heart disease, cancer, and macular degeneration. Grapefruit is also high in other cancer-fighting chemicals, such as d-limonene, which helps to prevent tumor growth by promoting the formation of the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, a detoxifying enzyme. This enzyme creates a reaction in the liver that helps to make toxic compounds more water-soluble for easier excretion from the body. Pulp from grapefruit also has glucarates, compounds that help prevent breast cancer by assisting the body in getting rid of excess estrogen.Fresh grapefruit is low in calories but is a great source of flavonoids, water-soluble fibers, potassium, vitamin C, and folic acid. Grapefruit also has the phytochemicals liminoids, flavonoids, lycopene, and glucarates, all of which are strong antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds. Vitamin C is also a very important vitamin for helping to strengthen the immune system and to prevent and treat illness such as the common cold and flu.
Kale, Avocado & Grapefruit Salad with Ginger Dressing
- For the Salad:
- 6 C. Raw Chopped Kale, stems removed
- 1 Grapefruit
- 1 Small Avocado
- For the Dressing:
- 1 Tsp. Freshly Grated Ginger
- 1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbs. Braggs Liquid Aminos (or low sodium soy sauce)
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- ½ Tbs. Agave (maple syrup or honey would also work)