With plentiful immune-boosting Vitamin C, the grapefruit is enjoyed as much for its health properties as its tangy flavour.
These juicy fruits are now coming into season in Australasia, so you should start to see them at farmer’s markets and on supermarket shelves from May until January (those available year-round are usually flown in from other countries, so be sure to ask if buying seasonally—and locally— is important to you).
Discovered in Barbados in the 1800s, grapefruits can add tart and tang to a summer salad or simply be squeezed to enjoy a juice alternative to orange. However, it’s the impressive nutrient profile that really makes this citrus worth popping into your shopping basket.
Thought to be crossbred between a sweet orange and pomelo, grapefruits claim fame all of their own thanks to being high in free-radical destroying anti-oxidants. According to a study at the University of Glasgow, pink and red varieties are the best fruits to consume for beta-carotene and antioxidant benefits, along with grapes, apples and cranberries.
While resembling an orange, they are much larger and boasts a pink or deep red flesh.
Also available in white, it’s the colourful vitamin and mineral-rich grapefruit varieties that are said to posses the most abundant health properties, however, the white does contain pectin—the soluble fibre that has been shown to lower cholesterol.
Meanwhile, studies have also found that regularly drinking grapefruit juice may inhibit formation of kidney stones while protect again lung and colon cancers—and in some cases—prevent weight gain.
According to a study conducted by the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, grapefruit health benefits also extend to repairing DNA in prostate cancer sufferers. Yet despite the good health news, those who take prescription drugs are warned against eating grapefruits and drinking its juice, due to its ability to increase potency of pharmaceuticals, which may in turn induce muscle toxicity.
Beauty of the Tart
Named after grapes due to their cluster like growing patterns, grapefruits are juicy, tart, tangy and somewhat sour to the taste, yet the fruit’s benefits extend well beyond simply eating their flesh and drinking their juice.
Grapefruit is also celebrated by beauty buffs and skincare professionals, with plentiful Vitamin C and A, which can help protect the skin from environmental hazards. Mix a little juice with sweet almond oil for an at-home moisturising elixir.
Grow Your Own Grapefruit
Best in full sun, a grapefruit tree can grow up to 20 feet tall and takes four years from seedling to fruit-filled tree. Plant at least 20 feet apart if you’re planning on growing more than one tree.
Best watered once per week during summer or dry periods, organic fertilisers can also do much to help the tree bear large fruit. Pruning is not usually necessary.
While supermarkets are known for presenting picture-perfect fruit and vegetables, choosing grapefruit that has blemishes on the skin doesn’t mean it won’t be suitable to eat. However, keep an eye for soft spots at the stem end of the fruit, as this can signify poor taste and texture.
The heavier the fruit, the juicer you can expect your grapefruit to be. Choose those with firm skin that springs slightly when touched. Best consumed at room temperature, the citrus will also fair well in the fridge if you’re not planning to eat them within a week of purchase.