Eat Grapefruit for Your Health
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In recent years, Americans have heard an awful lot about so-called superfoods. A superfood is a neologism that is sometimes used to describe foods that contain unusually high amounts of phytonutrients. These phytonutrients are chemical compounds that are found in fruits and vegetables. Today we are going to discuss one of the American's oldest and most popular superfruits, the grapefruit.
First cultivated in America in 1823, it took the grapefruit more than a century to catch on. It was not until 1929 when a new variety of grapefruit was discovered in South Texas that people actually wanted to eat grapefruit. This natural fruit mutation had red flesh instead of white or pink. It was also much sweeter than it bitter forebears, which was part of its initial appeal.
What grapefruit lovers did not know, however, was that the red or “Ruby” grapefruit was actually much better for them than the white variety. The pigments in the skin that give the fruit its color are due to a powerful phytonutrient called lycopene. Lyopene, like other dietary carotenoids, has been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. In fact, lycopene is the most powerful of the carotenoids, due in part to its antioxidant activity.
What is an antioxidant? An antioxidant is a helpful little molecule that fights harmful free radicals that can damage healthy cells. This damage is believed to increase the risk of serious diseases like cancer. In fact, in a recent study it was discovered that men who eat lycopene-rich foods like red grapefruit reduced their risk of prostate cancer considerably. And when we say considerably, we mean 86 percent! Now, it was just one study and the results are not conclusive. But medical researchers believe there is a definite link between lycopene consumption and the reduction of certain types of cancer.
In addition to lycopene, grapefruits contain vitamin C, which also works as a powerful antioxidant when it enters the body. The vitamin has been proven to give a natural boost to the immune system. Perhaps that is why people who eat foods that are high in vitamin C don't get nearly as many colds as those who do not.
Fruit lovers who eat grapefruit, especially the red variety, also receive a healthy dose of dietary fiber. The average grapefruit contains twelve grams of fiber, which is almost half of the recommend daily allowance. Dietary fiber is important because it improves digestive health by encouraging regular bowel movements. It is one of nature's most effective laxatives. People who consume foods that are high in fiber also have a lower risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
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