Health Benefits of Grapefruit

Tart but containing an underlying sweetness, the grapefruit has many of the same health promoting traits as the orange.  Originally produced in Barbados as a hybrid fruit that resulted from a cross between the pomelo and sweet orange, the grapefruit is a large citrus fruit of the Rutaceae family. The pulp is typically a crimson or rich pink or red.  Its texture and color are more similar to that of a pomelo while its size is slightly larger than an orange.  Strangely enough however, the grapefruit was named after the grape since it grows in clusters similar to the way grapes do.

The Latin name, Citrus Paradisi, suggests that eating this juicy tangy fruit is a bit of paradise while packing along with it vitamin A, vitamin B (thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin), vitamin C,  essential elements like iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and folic acid. Grapefruit also contains salicylic acid which works as an antiseptic. The rich pink and red colors of the grapefruit are due to the antioxidant lycopene, a cartenoid phytonutrient. Speaking of phytonutrients, there’s another one found in grapefruits called limonoids which have been found to inhibit tumor formation by promoting the formation of glutathione, an enzyme that helps make toxic compounds more water soluble for elimination from the body. In lab tests, limonoids have been shown to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach and colon. The phytonutrient limonin makes this fruit a potent anti carcinogen that may help cancer cells from proliferating and the pulp of most citrus fruits like grapefruit contains compounds called glucarates that help prevent breast cancer.

Once you’ve eaten the flesh of the fruit, don’t throw it out! Oils in the peel can be extracted for aromatherapy purposes or you can just inhale deeply and take in the citrus fragrance for a boost.

Grapefruit Promotes optimal health

Let’s take a closer look at the nutrients found in a grapefruit and what they do for your health and well being. It’s imperative to note that while eating grapefruit does increase your levels of all of the above nutrients; it’s not likely to cure a disease when consumed on its own. Incorporating grapefruit into your diet regularly will promote the outlined benefits of the nutrients found in it by strengthening and boosting your body’s natural defense mechanisms.

Contains Vitamin A

A powerful antioxidant that works to combat free radicals that can damage the skin through oxidative stress, Vitamin A allows proper moisture preservation and effectively maintains healthy bones and teeth by replacing old worn out tissue with newer tissue. This ensures solid bones and strong teeth. It’s imperative to healthy eyes because it is converted to retinal which allows the eye to effectively differentiate between light and dark and therefore improves vision. Vitamin A is also great in building up resistance. Not only does it toughen the entry points into the human body such as the lining of the eyes, mucous membranes, respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts, it helps the body manufacture white blood cells that battle infection.

Contains Vitamin B

Boasting a variety of positive effects on the system, Vitamin B in the appropriate amounts will alleviate stress, treat anxiety and depression, help memory, relieve PMS and reduce heart disease risk! There are 11 members of the Vitamin B complex which are a chemically related family of nutrients that work together as a team.  They will help burn fats and glucose for energy; help make serotonin (a neurotransmitter) or aid in the production and repair of DNA. Included in this family of nutrients are Thiamine, Riboflavin, (reduces headaches) Niacinimide, (increases energy, DNA repair)  Pyridoxine, (makes serotonin and relieves PMS) Pantothenic Acid, (speeds wound healing, reduces cholesterol) Folic Acid, (lowers risk of heart disease, stroke and birth defects; important for the formation of red blood cells) Cyanocobalism, (improves memory) Biotin, (combined with chromium improves blood sugar level) Choline, (needed for normal brain function) Inositol (aids depression and anxiety) and Para-amino Benzoic Acid. Containing B vitamins, this fruit offers many benefits if consumed.

Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C

Not enough can be said about this nutrient. Vitamin C helps support the immune system and helps reduce cold symptoms or the severity of them. Eating grapefruit or drinking the juice helps treat the common cold and fever because it contains vitamin C. It prevents free radical damage that triggers inflammation and therefore is associated with reduced inflammatory conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Vitamin C is helpful in promoting cardiovascular health since it combats the free radicals that can oxidize cholesterol leading to plaques that cause heart attacks and stroke.

Contains Iron

Iron is crucial for the body to produce red blood cells and is required for proper growth and development of the human body to maintain robust health. Its benefits include carrying life-giving oxygen to human cells. For example, iron is a critical element for muscle health. It can be found in muscle tissues and helps supply the oxygen that is required for the contraction of the muscles. Since iron also helps oxygen supply to the blood, the presence of iron in the body is directly related to brain health and its functions.

Contains Calcium

Calcium has many uses in the body but most significantly it is an essential mineral for healthy bones, gums and teeth. Calcium is one of those nutrients that we must have from birth till old age. During infancy, it’s needed for proper bone and dental growth, during adolescence, calcium is needed to support the development of the bones, and when our bones get porous and week in old age, our bodies call for sufficient calcium intake as well.

Contains Potassium

It is important to note that potassium and sodium work together to regulate the balance of fluids in the cells of the body. It is essential for the healthy functioning of our heart, kidneys and other vital organs. Increased potassium intake is associated with reduced risk of stroke, improved blood pressure control and improved bone mineral density.

Contains Beneficial Manganese

Manganese is a mineral that is found in small amounts in the body. It is a component of an enzyme called manganese super oxide dismutase that is a powerful antioxidant because it searches for free radicals in the body and neutralizes them to prevent any danger to human cells.

Contains Necessary Magnesium

This is an essential nutrient that keeps the body healthy. It is responsible for about 300 biochemical reactions in the body if not more. The benefits include proper transmission of nerve impulses, body and temperature regulation, detoxification, energy production and the healthy formation of bones and teeth. Magnesium intake relieves symptoms of PMS and aids in the absorption of calcium by the body. Some of the other health benefits include protein synthesis, boosting the bio availability of B6, and improving muscle functions. Magnesium also works to prevent osteoporosis, insomnia, constipation, heart attacks, hypertension, migraines, kidney stones and gallstones. These are a myriad of health problems that we experience as a society. Getting some manganese into our systems will help lower the risks of these ailments, so go for it! Wouldn’t it be nice to eat some grapefruit today?

Contains Phosphorus

Phosphorus is an abundant mineral in the body found mostly in the bones, but it can also be found in other organs. Its main function is to build strong bones and teeth, but this mineral is used by almost every cell in the body protecting and strengthening the cell membranes.

Helps control and lose weight

Grapefruit is abundant in enzymes that are successful at burning fats.  It contains high water content and not much sodium. The specific combination of these characteristics enables the consumption of grapefruit to increase the body’s metabolism. Squeeze yourself a glass of grapefruit juice every morning and enjoy losing those few extra pounds.

Contains Cholesterol Lowering Fiber

Grapefruit contains pectin, a form of dietary soluble fiber that has been shown to slow down the progression of atherosclerosis and promote better digestion. The journal of Agricultural and food chemistry published a study that indicates some versions of Grapefruit have the ability to lower triglycerides. This is positive news since high levels of triglycerides lead to higher cholesterol levels. In a study conducted by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, grapefruit was effective at lowering LDL cholesterol levels, but some varieties are more effective than others. Based on these studies it is safe to assume that adding fresh red grapefruit to the diet may be beneficial at lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Why not try it?

Eat Grapefruit to prevent kidney stones

As noted by The British Journal of Nutrition the risk of calcium oxalate kidney stones can be reduced by drinking grapefruit juice. This is possible because when drinking grapefruit juice the urinary PH value and citric acid excretion increase and the risk of calcium oxalate stones plummet.

 How to Incorporate into Your Diet with Recipes from Mimi’s Organic Corner

Because I love organic food and pursue an eco friendly lifestyle, I suggest using certified organic ingredients in all of your food and cosmetic recipes when available to maximize flavors and nutrition while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.

Make fresh grapefruit juice, or simply peel and eat grapefruit raw. Or chop and add to your favorite salad or fruit salad.

Orange and grapefruit slices with Coconut – Slices of orange and grapefruit without the peel tossed with coconut sugar and topped with toasted d coconut make up this great start to any morning.

Mixed Green Salad with Grapefruit and Cranberries – the Tangy grapefruit juice is the base for the dressing of this salad recipe. Mix butter lettuce and baby spinach and chop grapefruit and dried cranberries, hearts of palm and pine nuts.

Avocado Grapefruit Relish – Combine avocado, shallot and cilantro to the grapefruit  and make a brightly flavored relish that goes well with grilled fish or meat and is also a delicious taco topping.

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