The Many Health Benefits of Red Grapefruit
The grapefruit is one of the most recent additions to the citrus family of fruits. First planted in Jamaica during the 17th century, the exotic island fruit was brought to Florida in 1823. Unfortunately, the grapefruit was a flop in the New World. After centuries of enjoying sweet oranges, Floridians wanted nothing to do with the oversized sour fruit that was hard to eat. The grapefruit later resurfaced in South Texas near the end of the 19th century.
With its fertile soil and subtropical climate, the Rio Grande Valley was the perfect place to grow citrus crops. Famers in South Texas had known this for decades. But because of limited acreage, they could not possibility compete with orchard owners from Florida. That meant that they could not cultivate huge citrus crops like the orange. What they desperately needed was a new citrus crop that would capture the public's imagination. Many believed that the grapefruit fit the bill.
Shortly after the discovery of the Ruby Red, the grapefruit became one of the most popular fruits in America. It was a breakfast staple for millions of upper class families. Other opined that the exotic fruit had nearly supernatural dietary properties. The grapefruit diet helped countless Hollywood starlets lose weight in between shoots. It wasn't magic, of course. The grapefruit is naturally fat and cholesterol free and low in calories. It also has a healthy serving of dietary fiber, which promotes regular bowel movements and weight loss. But it was not until decades later that we discovered just how healthy the grapefruit actually is, especially the red and pink varieties.
Don't get us wrong, the original white grapefruit is good for you, but it lacks a caretenoid called lycopene that gives red and pink grapefruit their color. Lycopene is a powerful phytonutrient that acts as an antioxidant when it enters the body. An antioxidant is a helpful little molecule that does battle with inimical free radicals that can damage healthy cells. Many doctors and scientists believe that lycopene also has anti-cancer properties and that it many reduce the size of
tumors and the risk of certain types of cancers.
Several recent studies have shown that consuming lycopene-rich foods like grapefruit and drinking green tea can reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. The numbers are really rather astonishing. In one small study, a group of subjects ate red grapefruit and imbibed green tea for four months. These men reduced their incidence of prostate cancer by more than eighty percent compared to the general male population. Since white grapefruit does not contain lycopene, it is not thought to have any anti-cancer properties.