Food Focus: Everything You Wanted to Know About Grapefruit

food-focus-grapefruit

The Grapefruit Diet is a fad diet that’s been floating around weight loss circles for decades here in the U.S. And while restricting your diet to the levels this diet suggests is a bit too extreme for our liking, we do agree that there are a ton of great benefits to a diet rich in grapefruit. Now let’s learn about this awesome citrus!

What do they look like?

Grapefruits are about the size of a softball or larger, with a pale yellow rind that resembles an orange. Inside, you’ll usually find a bright reddish-pink flesh separated in orange-like segments. Most grapefruit you have in the store is of the red or pink variety—because it’s the sweetest—but you also might find yellow or white varieties, too.

What do they taste like?

A fresh, ripe grapefruit is decidedly citrus-y—tart, tangy and acidic—but with a strong undertone of sweetness that some folks liken to berries or cherries. If you’ve ever had an unripe grapefruit, you might think they are too sour for your tastes, but I urge you to find the freshest grapefruits you can find that are in season (or even better, snag a fresh one on your next vacation to a warmer climate)—good grapefruits are sweet enough not to need any sweetener. Grapefruits are also juicier than almost any of the other citrus fruits on the market. That’s why you see a lot of grapefruit-flavored juices and drinks on the market.

See more: Raspberry Orange Spritzer Recipe

Why are they good for me?

Like all citrus fruits, grapefruit is packed with vitamin C—which is a vital nutrient to help boost your immune system. Vitamin C also helps protect your cells from free radical damage that triggers inflammation in the body—meaning a diet rich in grapefruit can help you fight asthma, osteoarthritis, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you stick to pink and red grapefruit, you’re getting a hefty dose of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene. And while a lot of nutrition experts recommend staying away from fruit juices for their sugar content, grapefruit juice is one of the healthiest fruit juices you can drink. Some studies have shown that long-term consumption of red or pink grapefruit juice can help increase protection against Alzheimer’s.

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Not convinced yet? Well, grapefruits have also been show to help fight cancers of the mouth, skin, lung, breast, stomach, and colon. And a diet consistent in grapefruit has been show to reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) by nearly 30% in a study over a diet without grapefruit. Have issues with kidney stones? Well, a study suggests that drinking grapefruit juice regularly may reduce your risk of developing them. If you’re looking to lose weight or manage diabetes, research had shown the grapefruit may help regulate insulin levels in the body—naturally.

When and where do I get them?

Grapefruits are available nearly year-round in most grocery stores, but for the sweetest, freshest fruits, head to the store now! Most citrus fruits are at their peak during late winter and early spring in the Northern Hemisphere. And while most of us living the U.S. don’t live in a grapefruit-growing climate, we can get the freshest options by looking at the source of the fruit.

Skip fruits imported from overseas and look for grapefruit coming from the closest location to you possible (i.e. if you’re on the East Coast, look for Florida grapefruits, if you’re in the middle of the country, try to find Texas grapefruits, and if you’re in the Western half of the country, check out California grapefruits).

How do I prepare grapefruit?

It’s hard to beat straight up, raw grapefruit! Unlike oranges, the pith and membranes of grapefruit are very tart and not very pleasant to eat, so most folks choose to eat grapefruit by slicing the fruit in half and using a knife to separate segments and spoon to get them out. If you become a grapefruit frequenter, some kitchen stores even carry special grapefruit knives and spoons that make this process much easier.

What are some good recipes?

What’s your favorite way to eat grapefruit?

Photo credit: Muffet

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Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!

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