Grapefruit is a popular sweet and tangy citrus fruit grown domestically primarily in Florida, and also in Arizona, Texas and California.
While winter is the peak of grapefruit season, domestic grapefruits are available year-round, with Florida and Texas producing grapefruit during the winter and spring and Arizona and Texas producing grapefruit in the summer and fall.
Varieties of Grapefruit
Varying sizes of grapefruits are available with white, pink and ruby red flesh on the inside. Originally, the flesh of the grapefruit was white. Early natural mutations produced pink and ruby red varieties, and they have been further hybridized. Grapefruits are segmented like oranges, and most varieties taste the same, with a little variation in sweetness. Florida grapefruits are sweeter and have a thinner skin than those grown in the western part of the U.S.
According to the USDA, ½ grapefruit provides 80% of an adult’s vitamin C daily requirement. They’re also a good source of the soluble fiber pectin and B vitamins. The redder the flesh, the more vitamins it contains. In addition, grapefruits are low in calories (under 100 calories per fruit) and contain virtually no fat and are considered a heart-healthy fruit. While they’re sweet and tangy, grapefruits have less sugar than oranges, so ½ grapefruit a day is a healthy treat for dieters.
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, associated with Whole Foods, grapefruit helps to support a healthy immune system, scours free radicals, serves as an anti-inflammatory agent and promotes a healthy heart. In fact, Grapefruit juice has been found to be one of the top juices providing anti-oxidants. Lycopene in grapefruits, in conjunction with green tea may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, according to a study reported in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
How to Choose and Store Grapefruit
Look for firm, glossy skin without dents and bruises. Reject grapefruits with dark spots, which can indicate bruising of the flesh underneath the outside skin.
How to Eat Grapefruit
Substitute grapefruit for orange or lemon in sorbet, Italian ice and sherbet recipes. Add grapefruit segments to your morning smoothie or serve grapefruit segments topped with wild blueberries and drizzled with raspberry purée.
In general, grapefruit and medication do not play well together. According to Harvard Medical School, they’re not even sure which chemical component causes the problem, though scientists suspect it is furanocoumarin. It doesn’t directly attack medication; it binds with an enzyme in the intestinal tract that reduces the absorption of the medication.
The end result of reduced absorption is that more medication makes its way into the bloodstream, sometimes dangerously high levels. You can check which medications pose a problem at the Harvard Medical School site, but it’s best to check with your doctor about any potential interactions if you’re a grapefruit fan.
While fruit juices are best avoided while dieting, grapefruit juice is one exception. Its low sugar content, combined with its high fiber content mean that you can occasionally enjoy a glass of grapefruit juice even while dieting. Better yet, enjoy ½ grapefruit each day, either as part of your breakfast or as the end to lunch or dinner to satisfy your sweet tooth.