Tart and tangy with an underlying sweetness, grapefruit has a juiciness that rivals that of the ever popular orange and sparkles with many of the same health promoting benefits. Although available throughout the year, they are in season and at their best from winter through early spring.
Grapefruits usually range in diameter from four to six inches and include both seed and seedless and pink and white varieties. The wonderful flavor of a grapefruit is like paradise as is expressed by its Latin name, Citrus paradisi.
Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, a vitamin that helps to support the immune system. Vitamin C-rich foods like grapefruit may help reduce cold symptoms or severity of cold symptoms; over 20 scientific studies have suggested that vitamin C is a cold-fighter. Vitamin C also prevents the free radical damage that triggers the inflammatory cascade, and is therefore also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
As free radicals can oxidize cholesterol and lead to plaques that may rupture causing heart attacks or stroke, vitamin C is beneficial to promoting cardiovascular health. Owing to the multitude of vitamin C’s health benefits, it is not surprising that research has shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits high in this nutrient is associated with a reduced risk of death from all causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The rich pink and red colors of grapefruit are due to lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient. (PLEASE NOTE: Lycopene is only found in pink and red grapefruit. White grapefruit does not provide this carotenoid.) Lycopene appears to have anti-tumor activity. Among the common dietary carotenoids, lycopene has the highest capacity to help fight oxygen free radicals, which are compounds that can damage cells.
Choosing to regularly eat lycopene-rich foods, such as pink grapefruit, and drink green tea may greatly reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer, suggests research published the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Jian L, Lee AH, et al.)
In this case-control study involving 130 prostate cancer patients and 274 hospital controls, men drinking the most green tea were found to have an 86% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared, to those drinking the least.
A similar inverse association was found between the men’s consumption of lycopene-rich fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apricots, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, and guava. Men who most frequently enjoyed these foods were 82% less likely to have prostate cancer compared to those consuming the least lycopene-rich foods.
Regular consumption of both green tea and foods rich in lycopene resulted in a synergistic protective effect, stronger than the protection afforded by either, the researchers also noted.
Practical Tips: Get in the habit of drinking green tea and eating lycopene-rich foods.
Take a quart of iced green tea to work and sip throughout the day or take it to the gym to provide prostate protection while replenishing fluids after your workout.
Pack a ziploc bag of apricots and almonds in your briefcase or gym bag for a handy snack.
Start your breakfast with a half grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit, apricot, papaya or guava juice.
Begin lunch or dinner with some spicy tomato juice on the rocks with a twist of lime. Snack on tomato crostini: in the oven, toast whole wheat bread till crusty, then top with tomato sauce, herbs, a little grated cheese, and reheat until the cheese melts.
Top whole wheat pasta with olive oil, pine nuts, feta cheese and a rich tomato sauce for lunch or dinner.
For a delicious dessert, drizzle a little honey over a half grapefruit and broil for 2 minutes. Serve topped with a fresh mint leaf.