Food in the Spotlight

5 Important Nutrients in Grapefruit You Need to Know

Though they are available the whole year through, grapefruits are at their best when they are in season from winter to early spring. Closely related to pomelo, the juiciness of grapefruits can rival that of an orange. Just like other citrus fruits, grapefruits also contain a lot of nutrients that have health promoting benefits. Here are five important nutrients found in grapefruit and their health benefits:

5 Important Nutrients in Grapefruit You Need to Know 1Grapefruits are large citrus fruits that are tart, juicy, and tangy and with an underlying sweetness.  This wonderful flavor of grapefruits is considered by some as paradise, as reflected in its Latin name Citrus paradisi.  They are categorized as white or blonde, ruby, and pink.  This does not refer to the grapefruit’s skin color but to the color of their flesh.  Some grapefruit varieties have seeds while others are seedless.

Though they are available the whole year through, grapefruits are at their best when they are in season from winter to early spring.  Closely related to pomelo, the juiciness of grapefruits can rival that of an orange.  Just like other citrus fruits, grapefruits also contain a lot of nutrients that have health promoting benefits.  It is a great food item for weight loss not to mention as a food item for disease prevention. Here are five important nutrients found in grapefruit and their health benefits:

Vitamin C

Just like other citrus fruits, grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C.  This vitamin helps support the immune system and may help reduce various cold symptoms or the severity of these cold symptoms.  Vitamin C is also known to help prevent free radical damage.  Free radicals can oxidize cholesterol and lead to plaque formations that may rupture and cause heart attack or stroke, vitamin C can help prevent these.

Lycopene

The red and rich pink colors of grapefruits are due mainly to lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient also found in tomatoes.  Lycopene has the highest capability to help fight free radicals in the body among the common dietary carotenoids.  Lycopene is said to have anti-tumor activity and a lycopene-rich diet may greatly reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.  With regular consumption of lycopene-rich foods like grapefruits, coupled with drinking of green tea, may greatly reduce the development of prostate cancer in men.  In a study, men who frequently ate lycopene-rich foods were 82% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who eat the least lycopene-rich foods.

Limonoids

Limonoids are also phytonutrients and they inhibit the formation of tumor by promoting the formation of a detoxifying enzyme glutathione-S-transferase.  The said enzyme triggers a reaction in the liver that helps make toxic compounds to be more water soluble so that they can be easily excreted from the body.  Limonoids are also said to help fight cancers of the skin, mouth, lung, and breast.  Moreover, the pulp of grapefruits also contains glucarates that may help prevent breast cancer.  Limolin, a limonoid compound present in grapefruit and other citrus fruits in about the same amount as vitamin C, have potent anti-carcinogenic properties and may help prevent the proliferation of cancerous cells.

Pectin

Grapefruits also contain pectin, a soluble fiber that has been said to help slow down atherosclerosis progression.  Both the red and blond grapefruit varieties can reduce the LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the blood.  The red grapefruit variety is also known to help lower the levels of triglycerides in the body.  Both grapefruit varieties can significantly improve levels of protective antioxidants in the blood.

Naringenin

Naringenin is a flavonoid found in concentration in grapefruits and is known to help repair DNA damage in human prostate cancer cells.  DNA repair, which removes potentially cancer-causing mutations in the cells, is one of the primary defense mechanisms of the human body against cancer development.

In helping restore health to damaged DNA, naringenin induce two enzymes that are known to repair DNA during the replication stage.  These two enzymes are the DNA polymerase beta or DNA poly beta and the 8-oxoguanine-DNA glycosylase 1 or HOGG1.  These two enzymes are involved in the DNA base excision repair pathway.

I bet you’ll look at grapefruits differently now ..:-)

Ray Baker