Refreshing fruit packed with vitamin C, grapefruit hails from Southeast Asia and belongs to the Rutaceae family. People often mistake it for pomelo (a hybrid citrus fruit of the orange and grapefruit tree). Grapefruit offers a burst of essential daily vitamins. Although it thrives in warm climates, it can only survive in more temperate areas with winter protection.
→Also read: how to grow pomelo well
Grapefruit: a touch of history
From the grapefruit tree or “Citrus maxima” in Asia, the Japanese have used grapefruit for over 4,000 years to purify and hydrate skin. Grapefruit seeds made their way to Barbados by the end of the 17th century, then to the Caribbean, and by 1800 to Florida.
This tangy fruit gained wild popularity in 1930 for its “miracle” slimming effects, only to fade from memory after a few years.
However, in the early 1980s, the famous “Hollywood diet” (a slimming cure based on grapefruit) made a comeback. It lost its fame again since no scientific study could back its weight loss claims.
Grapefruit facts and health benefits
Although rare in Europe, grapefruit trees thrive in fresh, sandy, acid, non-limestone soils. They love a good mix of organic matter and need excellent drainage. You can plant them outdoors, in greenhouses, large pots, sunrooms, or directly in the ground.
They boast large, pointy green leaves and sweet-scented white flowers. Clustered together, their fruits ripen in January and are half as sweet as an orange.
Typically grown in tropical countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, southern China, and Malaysia, grapefruits have a thick, greenish rind. Their soft pink flesh, segmented like orange wedges, sometimes hides a few seeds. Depending on the variety, it weighs between 1 lbs and 18 lbs (500g and 8 kg) and measures between 4 and 12 inches in diameter (10 and 30 cm).
Shaped somewhat like a pear, this fruit packs a punch with potassium, copper, calcium, fruit acids, phosphorus, flavonoids, essential fibers (pectin), carotenoids, glucides, limonoids, and vitamins A, B2, B1, B5, B3, and C.
When it comes to therapeutic benefits, grapefruit stands out as an:
- cholesterol-lowering agent.
In addition to these medicinal properties, grapefruit fights fatigue and aids digestion.
Grapefruit medicinal virtues, uses, and dosages
Phytotherapy suggests consuming the entire grapefruit: zest, membranes, pulp, seeds (as oil), and even the inner skin!
With its multiple therapeutic virtues, grapefruit is recommended for:
- preventing cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers (affecting respiratory and digestive systems) and neurodegenerative conditions,
- reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) in favor of good cholesterol (HDL),
- combating fatigue and constipation.
Like other pink or red fruits and veggies, grapefruit protects gums, teeth, and bones. Don’t overlook its vitality boost and effect on tumor growth.
Nutritionists often suggest a daily glass of grapefruit juice or four fruits (taken one segment at a time) a week.
→ Also read: how to grow pomelo
Smart tip about grapefruit
Prefer homemade grapefruit juice over the store-bought kind. The store version sometimes contains albedo, the white part of the rind, which is a substance that can either decrease or increase a medication’s effect.
It’s worth noting that interactions between grapefruit and certain medications can turn out to be serious or even deadly. If you’re undergoing treatment for conditions like high cholesterol, cancer, depression, heart issues, gastrointestinal reflux, or high blood pressure, always get a doctor’s opinion before consuming more than an occasional sip.