Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi, C. decumana) is the largest member of the Rutaceae (Citrus) Family. Grapefruit was grown in India and Malaysia more than 4,000 years ago; however, grapefruit was “discovered” on Barbados and by 1880, had become a major Florida crop. It is thought that the name grapefruit refers to the fruit growing in clusters of three, twelve, or more.
Grapefruits are classified as alkaline, cold, sweet and sour. Grapefruit is anti-mutagenic, antiseptic, antiviral, detoxifying, diuretic and liver cleansing. Grapefruit helps promote the circulation of energy and clears heat toxins from the body. It has been used to treat alcohol intoxication, atherosclerosis, bad breath, belching, broken capillaries, catarrh, constipation, cough, fever, gall stones, indigestion, jaundice, lupus, pneumonia, rheumatism, skin inflammation, and obesity.
Grapefruit helps remove inorganic calcium deposits, prevent heart attacks, stroke and cancers, especially pancreatic and stomach. Anticancer compounds in grapefruit include flavonoids (especially in the white inner rind and peel), terpenes, limonoids and coumarins. Its phenolic compounds help the body produce substances that help detoxify carcinogens, including nitrosamines.
Grapefruit contains vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, iron, and potassium. Pink grapefruit contains the antioxidant carotene. Grapefruit contains the fiber pectin that helps lower blood cholesterol levels, and dissolves arterial plaque. Grapefruit also contains the flavonoid naringin, which helps eliminate old red blood cells from the body and is also anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic.
Look for firm, but springy to the touch grapefruits that are heavy for their size. Thin-skinned fruits tend to be juicier. They store best in a cool room, rather than the refrigerator. Storing them in a closed bag encourages deterioration. Grapefruit peels, if organic (commercial ones are often waxed) contain beneficial essential oils, including limonene that is being studied for their anti-tumor properties. Enjoy grapefruit for breakfast, in fruit salads, alone or juiced. It is best to eat the whole fruit, as many of the important compounds, such as pectin are in the pulp.