By Mackenzie Elrod, R.D.
Grapefruit is a subtropical citrus fruit that grows on a tree in grape-like clusters and can be best described, quite literally, as bittersweet. Its unique flavor is perhaps the reason why it’s not as popular as its sweeter cousin, the orange. Nevertheless, grapefruit brings a host of nutritional benefits to the table. It provides the essential B vitamin, folate, is an excellent source of potassium and vitamins A and C, and boasts an abundance of other health benefits.
Grapefruit comes in a variety of colors. Incorporate the reds and pinks into your diet for optimal health benefits as they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that is also found in tomatoes, watermelon, guava, and papaya. This antioxidant protects our cells by removing free radicals, or damage-promoting molecules that have been linked to various cancers. Additionally, the vitamin C found in grapefruit promotes wound healing and resistance to infection.
Despite a majority of calories coming from natural sugars, grapefruit has a low glycemic load, which means that it does not raise blood-glucose level by a significant amount. That’s because one cup of grapefruit boasts nearly four grams of fiber. This fiber is called pectin, a cholesterol-lowering and glycemia-improving fiber. Grapefruit-specific pectin has demonstrated significant reductions in cholesterol levels in individuals who are at risk for heart disease. Likewise, regular consumption of grapefruit has been shown to improve blood vessel function.
It’s important to note that grapefruit can interact with a variety of pharmaceuticals, including those for high blood pressure and arrhythmia. Grapefruit allows more of the interacting drug into the bloodstream, which can increase harmful side effects. As a result, this fruit may interact negatively with certain drugs, so speak with your doctor if you are taking any medication before giving this tropical fruit a try.
While we most often see grapefruit consumed as a juice or simply cut in half and eaten with a spoon, there are many great ways to enjoy this flavorful citrus fruit.
- Incorporate freshly squeezed grapefruit juice into a smoothie with frozen fruit, honey, and vanilla extract.
- Broil grapefruit halves with cinnamon and light brown sugar.
- Spruce up any fruit or green salad with sliced grapefruit.
- Enjoy a spritzer with fresh grapefruit juice, club soda, and crushed mint leaves.
- Zest grapefruit into a salad, atop roasted fish, or into baked goods for a subtle bittersweet citrus flavor.
- Pair peeled grapefruit with roasted beets for a bright and flavorful side dish.
Enjoy this great recipe for Pan-Roasted Black Cod with Grapefruit Shallot Sauce.