February is National Grapefruit Month, the perfect time to celebrate this glorious gift of nature.
The grapefruit is actually a hybrid fruit originating from 18th century Barbados, the result of an accidental cross between a sweet orange and a pomelo.
Until the 19th century, the grapefruit was known as the shaddock (or shattuck). The name ‘grapefruit’ alludes to the fact that the clusters of fruit on the grapefruit tree look like grapes.
Grapefruits come in many colors: red, pink, white, and golden. The color is determined by the pigmentation of the fruit, which is a reflection of the fruit’s state of ripeness. (The variety you will see most often at the store has a yellow-white flesh and is called White Marsh Seedless).
Grapefruits are grown all over the world, and the US, China, and Mexico are the leading producers.
Grapefruit Fun Facts
Here are some fun facts:
- When the grapefruit was discovered, it was given the name the ‘forbidden fruit.’
- In 1929, the Ruby Red grapefruit was the first grapefruit variety to receive a US patent.
- Grapefruit trees can grow to be nearly 50 feet tall.
- The grapefruit is considered to be one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Barbados.’
- In 1993, the red grapefruit became the official fruit of Texas.
- Cooking grapefruit can remove the sourness.
Grapefruit Is Good for You
Grapefruits are jam-packed with nutrients and phytochemicals.
They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and also contain potassium and calcium.
High in antioxidants and fiber, grapefruits are low in calories.
This delicious fruit may help to protect your immune system, decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boost metabolism, reduce the risk of kidney stones, fight gum disease, lower stress, and support healthy skin.
Avoid Mixing Grapefruit With Certain Medications!
Despite all the health benefits, eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice should be avoided when you are taking certain medications.
When drugs are swallowed, they are metabolized by enzymes and/or they are absorbed by ‘drug transporters’, which are found in cells in the small intestine.
Grapefruit can negatively interact with either the enzymes or transporters, which means that either too much or too little of the drug is absorbed by the liver.
Many drugs are metabolized with the help of an enzyme called cytochrome P450 3A3 (CYP3A4) in the liver and small intestine.
Grapefruit can block the action of this enzyme, which means that, instead of the drug being metabolized, more of the drug enters into the blood and it stays in your body longer, leading to potential negative side effects.
For example, if you drink grapefruit juice while taking certain medications, too much of the drug might stay in your body, increasing the risk of liver damage and kidney failure.
On the other hand, if the grapefruit juice interacts with the drug transporters, it means that less of the drug enters the blood and the drug will not work as well.
Some types of drugs that can interact negatively with grapefruit include drugs used to lower cholesterol, lower high blood pressure, anti-anxiety drugs, corticosteroids that treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis and antihistamines, among others.
Obviously, not all drugs in these categories are affected by grapefruit. To make sure, it is best to check with your doctor before starting any new medication.
The best way to enjoy National Grapefruit Month is to eat it.
Here is a mouth-watering recipe for Avocado Citrus Salad—100 percent plant-based and oil-free, including the dressing!