Well-known as the low-calorie, diet-friendly fruit, grapefruit should be rightfully known for its abundance of vitamins, nutrients and powerful health-promoting plant chemicals.
Named for the way they grow in grape-like clusters, grapefruit actually are a cross between the pomelo, which is the largest citrus fruit, similar to but sweeter than grapefruit, and the orange. It’s a cross breeding that occurred either deliberately or naturally more than 300 years ago.
It got its start in Barbados before taking off in the early 19th century in Florida, where it grew in popularity thanks to its juicy splash of tart, tang and a touch of sweet.
Grapefruit is part of the citrus family along with the lemon, tangelo and lime, among others. There are white-, pink- and red-flesh varieties, though the skin is yellow or pinkish-yellow.
A good source of dietary fiber, a one-cup serving provides 53% of the daily value — based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day — of vitamin A and 120% of the DV of antioxidant vitamin C, as well as the protective plant compounds naringenin, limonin, lycopene and beta-carotene.
While grapefruit was not proven to have a significant effect on body weight, a review of studies has linked it to a significant decrease in blood pressure .
A 2015 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, being rich in flavones, grapefruit juice consumed by post-menopausal women improved arterial stiffness, which is related to high blood pressure.
Grapefruit also ranked among the top 10 raw foods associated with better mental health in a 2018 study in Psychology that compared intake of raw fruits and vegetables to processed.
Available all year, peak season for grapefruit is October through May. Grapefruit are picked ripe, as they will not ripen once harvested. Select fruit that are firm, not soft, and heavy for their size. Avoid bruising or brown spots, though blemishes probably won’t affect flesh quality.
Store at room temperature a week or so for a juicier grapefruit, then refrigerate to preserve longer.
Environmental Nutrition is an independent newsletter written by experts on health and nutrition.