Originally an ornamental plant, the grapefruit tree is a hybrid developed in Barbados back in the 1700s. Its fruit didn’t become popular until nearly 250 years later. Nutritionally, grapefruit, like most citrus fruits, is an excellent source of vitamin C.
The pink and red varieties also contain the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to lowering incidences of prostate cancer. Studies have shown the combination of green tea and foods rich in lycopene increases the effectiveness of the antioxidant’s ability to fight the free radicals that cause cellular damage attributed to causing cancer.
Limonoids are another phytonutrient found in grapefruit. They have been shown to inhibit tumor growth and support liver function by making toxic compounds more water soluble for elimination. Other compounds found in grapefruit have been reported to block the absorption of toxins through the intestine. Apparently, grapefruit can increase the absorption or efficacy of certain medications, particularly statins, which are used to lower cholesterol. People taking these medications, chemotherapy drugs and other medication should consult their doctor or pharmacist.
The claim that grapefruit can extend your life may have some scientific basis. It contains the compound spermidine, which is necessary for cell growth and maturation and in studies has been found to extend the life of smaller organisms, mice and even human cells.
A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables has been linked to the reduction of heart disease, stroke, cancer and obesity.
Chef Asata Reid teaches food education through Life Chef LLC. For more information, recipes and class schedules, visit www.lifechef.net.
Grapefruit and Arugula Salad
4 cups arugula
Segments of 2 grapefruits
Small red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup feta cheese
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Combine arugula, grapefruit, onion and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and olive oil. Serve with grilled salmon or roasted chicken.