Grapefruit is an evergreen, medium-sized tree grown for its fruit. It grows upto 15 meters in height and bears numerous yellow-orange fruits in clusters during each season. It is, in fact, a natural hybridization of pomelo and orange.
It was first discovered in the forests of Caribbean island, Barbados. Today, it is one of the widely cultivated fruits in the United States, particularly in Florida, California, and the other semi-tropical Southern states.
Grapefruit is oblate in shape, ranges in diameter from 3 to 5 inches and can weigh up to 150 g. Characteristically, it has thick, tough skin than that in the oranges. Inside, the fruit is segmented into arils as in other citrus fruits. Its arils are very juicy, acidic, and varying in color depending on the cultivars, which could be white, pink and red of varying sweetness. While some varieties are seedless, there may be upto 50 white, elliptical, pointed seeds about 1/2 inches in length in some.
Health benefits of Grapefruit
- Delicious, grapefruit is very low in calories, consists of just 42 calories per 100 g. Nonetheless; it is rich in dietary insoluble fiber pectin, which works as bulk laxative. Dietary fiber helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time to toxic substances in the colon as well as binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
- Pectin has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels by decreasing re-absorption of cholesterol in the colon.
- The fruit contains very good levels of vitamin-A (provides about 1150 IU per 100g), and flavonoid antioxidants such as naringenin, and naringin. Additionally, it is a moderate source of lycopene, beta-carotene, xanthin and lutein. Studies suggest that these compounds have antioxidant properties and are essential for vision. The total antioxidant strength measured in terms of oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of grapefruit is 1548 µmol TE/100 g.
- Further, vitamin A is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin-A, and flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- It is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin-C; providing about 52% of DRI. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful free radicals. It, furthermore, is required for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue and aids in early wound healing. It also facilitates dietary iron absorption in the intestine.
- 100 g of fresh fruit contains about 135 mg of potassium electrolyte. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure through countering sodium effects.
- Red varieties of grapefruits are especially rich in powerful flavonoid antioxidant, lycopene. Studies shows that lycopene protects skin from dangerous UV rays, and offers protection against prostate cancer.
- Additionally, it contains moderate levels of B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and thiamin in addition to some resourceful minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, and phosphorus.