Thursday, March 29, 2012

Food Worship #13: Grapefruit

I am a huge fan of the grapefruit.  If given the opportunity, I'll eat at least two a day, sometimes more.  They're juicy, delicious, filling, packed with nutrients, and HUGE.  They're a fantastic source of natural sugars, and boy do they taste great.  Many of you are probably familiar with the grapefruit as a breakfast food, and probably remembering preparing it by sawing it in half, adding some sugar, and digging in with a spoon.  But did you know that eating these things as you would an orange works just as well?  A ripe grapefruit is plenty sweet on its own, and if you can eat one in its natural state (without the added sugar) you're doing your body a TON of good.  And as I always do with this article series, let's look a little closer at the grapefruit.

Firstly, where does this thing even come from?   Well, it's a subtropical citrus fruit, and actually the largest producer of grapefruits in the world is our own United States of America (obviously in the more southern parts, where it stays a little bit warmer.)  The actual tree that sprouts these remarkable fruits is an evergreen tree, which to me seems somewhat strange, but then again nature always seems to confuse me at least slightly.  Grapefruits generally come in three main varieties, containing either red, white, or pink flesh.  I've only tried the first and the last, and I can say both are absolutely heavenly.  But what makes the grapefruit so darn healthy?  Let's explore a few of the unique health beneficiaries a grapefruit possesses.

Antioxidants:  The grapefruit is packed with a large amount of the very beneficial antioxidant lycopene, which can help to protect your cells from oxidative damage from free radicals.  This means grapefruit has an anti-carcinogenic effect, which I'll take any day of the week.  In fact, a study was recently done on a large group of men, and it was found that men who consumed foods rich in lycopene (such as grapefruits, tomatoes, etc.) had an 82% less chance of contracting prostate cancer.  That's pretty amazing.

Lowers Cholesterol:  Grapefruits have the fantastic ability to significantly lower cholesterol levels.  They contain a type of fiber called pectin which slows the process of atherosclerosis, which in layman's terms means that consumed high cholesterol foods are less effective at raising LDL or "bad" cholesterol.  Red grapefruit also lowers blood triglycerides, another nice benefit to get whenever you can.

Low Calorie:  Surprisingly, despite grapefruits being so large, they're actually a low calorie fruit.  Even the big ones only have about 100 calories, which is fantastic if you want a nice, filling meal without all the calories you're trying so desperately to avoid in your quest for a slimmer waist.  And believe me, a grapefruit can really bulk up a meal.  They're loaded with water, meaning they're very filling.  After you eat an entire grapefruit, you'll more than likely stay satisfied until your next scheduled meal, meaning it's much easier to stay on track with your diet.

Vitamins/Minerals:  Grapefruits are packed with these little guys, and everyone will do your body and mind a whole-lotta good.  Probably the most significant vitamin in grapefruit is vitamin C.  A grapefruit has a whopping 70% of your daily vitamin C, which besides being a great immune system booster also has awesome anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects.  Honestly, the more you can get, the better.  Grapefruit is also very rich in vitamins A, B5, and B1.  In terms of minerals, grapefruit is a great source of potassium.

Fiber:  Last but not least, grapefruits, like most fruits and veggies, are packed with fiber.  This stuff is extremely important to get a lot of, and will help to keep your digestion system healthy as well as provide a full, satiated feeling for hours on end.  That's a pretty sweet double whammy.

So there you have it, a little look at a pretty hefty fruit.  As I've said many times before, I LOVE grapefruits and eat them on a regular basis.  I suggest you do the same, as they give a great energy boost and have a TON of healthy features inside that peel.  What are you waiting for?  Go pick some up and enjoy!

Keep peeling, munching, and living healthy.  GOOD LUCK!


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