Scientific Name: Citrus paradisi
Grapefruit is believed to be native to Jamaica. It is sometimes confused with the pomelo (Citrus maxima), which is a close relation but is larger and pear-shaped.
The grapefruit tree can grow to a height of 26 to 30 feet. Grapefruits are round, with a diameter of between 4 and 6 inches. Their thin skin may be either completely yellow or yellow with a pinkish hue. The pulp of the fruit may be yellow, pinkish, or reddish. It can be more or less sharp-tasting, acidic, sweet, and fragrant.
The United States is the largest producer of grapefruit, accounting for over 40% of global production. Approximately 60% of the grapefruit crop is used for the manufacture of juice and canned grapefruit, while the rest is sold fresh.
Half a grapefruit provides more than 50 percent of the adult Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C; it also has 325mg of potassium, 25mcg (micrograms) of folate, 40mg of calcium, and l mg of iron. The pink and red varieties are high in beta carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts to vitamin A.
A cup of unsweetened grapefruit juice has 95mg of vitamin C, more than 150 percent of the RDA, and most of the other nutrients found in the fresh fruit.
Grapefruit stimulates the appetite and is used for its digestive, stomachic, antiseptic, tonic, and diuretic qualities.
Grapefruit and Weight Loss Diets
Over the years a number of people have promoted the grapefruit as possessing a unique ability to burn away fat. People following grapefruit diets lose weight because they eat little else-a practice that can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Grapefruits, however, are a good food to include in a sensible weight-loss diet; a serving contains less than 100 calories, and its high-fiber content satisfies hunger. If you're trying to lose weight, make grapefruit your first course to help prevent overeating. It's also an ideal snack food.
Grapefruit and Cholesterol Control
Grapefruits are especially high in pectin, a soluble fiber that helps lower blood cholesterol.
Grapefruit for Cancer Control
Recent studies indicate that grapefruits contain substances that are useful in preventing several diseases. Pink and red grapefruits are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that appears to lower the risk of prostate cancer. Researchers have not yet identified lycopene's mechanism of action, but a 6-year Harvard study involving 48,000 doctors and other health professionals has linked 10 servings of lycopene-rich foods a week with a 50 percent reduction in prostate cancer.
Other protective plant chemicals found in grapefruits include phenolic acid, which inhibits the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines; limonoids, terpenes, and monoterpenes, which induce the production of enzymes that help prevent cancer; and bioflavonoids, which inhibit the action of hormones that promote tumor growth.
Other Uses of Grapefruit
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other inflammatory disorders find that eating grapefruit daily seems to alleviate their symptoms. This is thought to stem from plant chemicals that block Prostaglandins, substances that cause inflammation.
People who are allergic to citrus fruits are likely to react to grapefruits, too. The sensitivity may be to the fruit itself or to an oil in the peel.
Interactions With Drugs and Medicines
Grapefruit juice inhibits a special enzyme in the intestines that is responsible for the natural breakdown and absorption of many medications. When the action of this enzyme is blocked, the blood levels of these medications increase, which can lead to toxic side effects from the medications.
Grapefruit juice research has suggested that flavonoids and/or furanocoumarin compounds are the substances that act to block the enzyme in the intestines that normally metabolizes many drugs.
The grapefruit juice-drug interaction can lead to unpredictable and hazardous levels of certain important drugs.
These medications should not be consumed with grapefruit juice unless advised by a doctor:
The following drugs may potentially have interactions with grapefruit juice, but this potential has not been scientifically studied. Use caution:
Related Topic: Interactions of Grapefruit with Medications For a detailed description of how grapefruit affects the metabolism of prescription drugs.
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