February marks several “food holidays” and one of them being National Grapefruit Month. Grapefruits are vitamin C rich citrus fruits that come in several variations; red, white, and pink. Grapefruits have long been known for their potent vitamin C content, but what else makes this fruit special? These juicy fruits also contain antioxidants that help support the immune system, cardiovascular system, decrease cholesterol, may help reduce cold symptoms, and ultimately helps fight free radical damage in the body, which would otherwise lead to inflammation. Did I mention they taste amazing as well?
Here are 5 things you may not know about this delicious fruit!
- In just 1/2 (100g) of a grapefruit there’s roughly 60% daily value for vitamin C! That’s more than half of your daily need in less than a cup!
- It contains a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which also contributes to the pinkish color in the fruit. Lycopene is a carotenoid phytonutrient and has the highest capacity at fighting free radical damage to cells- a very important antioxidant to have in your diet (also found in tomatoes!).
- Eating grapefruit has also been shown to help decrease weight and fat mass in overweight adults and may improve insulin resistance.
- Is considered a low GI (glycemic index) fruit, which basically is a measure of the foods impact on your blood sugar levels. Typically the lower the GI, the better (in most cases). 1/2 of a grapefruit is only 9g of sugar in comparison to higher sugar fruits, which may have upwards to 30g per serving.
- May help reduce body fat in some individuals when mixed with other compounds such as caffeine, grapefruit polyphenols, and other antioxidants found in the berry family of fruits.
- May increase metabolic rate (i.e. metabolism!), by working on a cellular level increasing the amount of ATP, which is a fancy way of saying “cellular energy”.
Note: some individuals who take prescription medications should be extra cautious when incorporating grapefruit into their diets. Grapefruit has a strong interaction with some of the most widely prescribed medications. Why? Grapefruit contains a compound called naringenin that inactivates cytochrome P450 3A4 (a fancy way of saying an enzyme in the small intestine that metabolizes some prescription drugs). This slows down the normal detoxification and metabolism in the liver and intestines, which makes it harder for the body to eliminate and breakdown the drug. Not only can grapefruit decrease the function of a drug, but it can also enhance making the drug more potent- both of these side effects are not good when you’re trying to regulate a medical condition with a prescription drug. Best advice is to do your research and ask your physician.
Tip: When buying grapefruit, the best ones will be heavy for their weight- this indicates they have much more water and are ripe.
What are your favorite ways to eat grapefruit? Stay tuned for the next fruit spotlight for the month of February!
McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDN
Nutrition Stripped, nutritionstripped.com