The grapefruits range from yellow orange, red to pink in colour and they grow in clusters, hence their name. Grapefruit are round in shape and have a sweet yet tangy taste. They are citrus fruits with their trees growing up to fifteen metres.
When buying grapefruits, look for the fruits with a smooth, firm skin and which feel heavy when held in the hand.
Grapefruits remain fresh up to a week when stored at room temperature and up to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B1
- Pantothenic acid
- Water content of up to 80%
Where did grapefruits originate?
The grapefruit first appeared in Jamaica and Barbados in the 1700’s and was referred to as the ‘forbidden fruit’.
The fruit is a hybrid of pummel and the sweet orange but it’s not clear when or who discovered the fruit.
Grapefruits are used for culinary purposes as well as for medicine. Some of these uses are:
Grapefruit juice – Besides eating the grapefruit, as it is, you can make a delicious juice out of it.
Peel the grapefruit and cut in into four slices. Put into the blender the four slices as well as half a cup of water and another of ice. Blend for a minute and your juice is ready to be served.
Fruit salad – Cut up your grapefruit into pieces and add oranges, grapes, strawberries, pineapple and slices of watermelon. Alternatively you can play around with other fruits in your salad and find that combination that suits you taste buds best. Grapefruit and avocado salad go very well together.
Grapefruits soup – The soup goes very well as an accompaniment to fish. To prepare the soup, juice the grapefruit. Heat some oil in a pan; add ginger, grapefruit juice, cayenne and a little honey. Add some lemon juice and salt for seasoning and let the mixture simmer for ten minutes. Serve your soup hot.
Medicinal uses of grapefruit
Most of the parts of grapefruit are utilised for medicinal purposes.
- The seed extract from the fruit is used as an antifungal remedy.
- The flower of the grapefruit tree is pulped and made into a medicine which helps with insomnia.
- Grapefruit juice can be rubbed on the skin to treat acne, dry or oily skin.
- Grapefruit when eaten regularly aids with the digestive system and relieves indigestion and excess gas in the stomach.
Benefits of grapefruit
Grapefruit protects against cancer
Vitamin C, found in many fruits is an antioxidant known to decrease the risk of some cancers such as stomach, colon, bladder and breast cancers. The fruits stimulate DNA to repair cancer cells and protect the body from developing the harmful cancer cells.
The lycopene in grapefruit has been shown to especially lower the risk of oesophageal and prostate cancers.
Grapefruit has been shown to reduce the presence of LDL or the bad cholesterol in the blood. Besides that, they also increase the amount if antioxidants in the body. Eating one grapefruit daily will decrease the total cholesterol especially for those people diagnosed with excess cholesterol.
The high potassium content in grape fruits makes the blood vessels and arteries relax, reducing the risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Prevention of kidney problems
Due to the presence of potassium and vitamin C, grapefruit is a good treatment for kidney problems such as urinary disorders.
Grapefruit for weight loss
Grapefruit is known as a great appetite suppressor. It stimulates the release of the hormone cholecystokinin, which is a hunger suppressant.
The high fibre content fills the stomach leaving you fuller for longer. It is also thought that the smell of the fruit reduces hunger pangs.
You’ve probably heard of the medical advice to eat a lot of oranges for flus and colds. Well, grapefruits are citrus fruits too and they contain large quantities of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that that boosts the body’s natural immunity. Grapefruits also contain anti-inflammatory properties which increase the body’s immunity.
The variety of nutrients in grapefruits mean that they are energy giving and they get rid of that tired and fatigued feeling. Eaten daily, grapefruits give you high endurance and energy that will take you through your daily activities.
Reduces kidney stones risk
The compound in grapefruit which causes the bitter taste is known as Naringenin, and
has been shown to prevent the formation of kidney cysts. It also reduces the swelling in kidneys caused by fluid retention.
Fights gum disease
Just two grapefruits can stop gums from bleeding. The vitamin C in the fruits promotes healing and is thought to travel to the infected areas of the gum. Eating grapefruits also prevents gum disease especially for smokers.
Constipation and Flatulence
Grapefruit juice helps to control constipation by stimulating the colon and other body structures that help in digestion. The fibre in the fruit also aids in the bowel movement and stimulates gastric juices that help clear the digestive tract.
When taken before a meal, grapefruit juice relieves stomach upsets and excess gas in the tummy.
Helps with diabetes
Grapefruit helps to regulate the amount of sugar flowing in the body. Consuming the fruit also reduces the amount of starch in the body of a person suffering from diabetes.
Grapefruits contain tryptophan, a chemical that makes a person sleepy after a meal. A glass of juice before retiring to bed, can promote deep sleep thus act as a cure for sleeplessness.
Vitamin C in grapefruits when taken in its natural form can help with damage to the skin caused by exposure to sunlight, wrinkles from aging and also help with formation of collagen which is responsible for the elasticity of the skin.
Grapefruits also contain a large percentage of water and Vitamin A, all of which help with keeping the skin soft and blemish free.
A word of caution
Grapefruits when consumed with some medicines can cause damage to your organs. To be on the safe side, if you’re under medication, consult your doctor before incorporating grapefruits into your diet.