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January, 2011

Grapefruit

By Cheryl Forberg

Most of us know to reach for grapefruit when we want to boost our immunity with vitamin C.

GrapefruitBut did you know the tart and tangy grapefruit is also a Goliath in the war against disease and the effects of aging?

Half a grapefruit provides more than half of an adult’s daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C, which contributes to a healthy immune system. But this large cousin of the orange and tangerine does much more to promote life-long health. For starters, grapefruit is loaded with antioxidants and enzymes proven to fight free radicals, the reactive molecules in our bodies that degrade cell function and can lead to cancer, heart disease and stroke.

There’s even new evidence that eating grapefruit may help slow the aging process by prolonging the life of human cells, thanks to spermidine - a compound essential for cell growth. In a 2009 study in Austria, researchers found that spermidine reduced molecular aging markers in mice, and prolonged the life span of human immune cells in the lab.

If all of this isn’t enough, grapefruit is also an excellent source of soluble fiber, which dilutes carcinogenic substances in the intestinal tract, lowers cholesterol and helps regulate blood glucose levels.

  • Grapefruit’s rich combination of nutrients also: Improve the body's ability to absorb iron; this is helpful for anyone who needs to take iron supplements
  • Can help improve complexion. Grapefruit has been used in the treatment and prevention of cellulite as well as other toxic problems in the skin
Finally, grapefruit is a smart choice for weight loss, as it’s low in calories but high in fiber and water content which makes it filling and nutrient rich.

Grapefruit comes in many varieties, determined by color – red, white or pink. Their flavors range from highly acidic and somewhat bitter to sweet and tart. Domestically-grown grapefruit from sunny states like Arizona and Florida are in season most of the year – and are at their peak from now through June.

Look for fruit with smooth, thin skins that are heavy for their size, as this usually indicates a higher concentration of juicier flesh. Those that have overly rough or wrinkled skin usually tend to be thick skinned and should be avoided. Grapefruit should be firm but springy when gentle pressure is applied.

Grapefruit does not continue to ripen after harvest, so store them at room temperature if you plan to consume them within a week of purchase, or up to eight weeks in a refrigerator. For the best flavor, leave at room temperature for a couple of hours before eating.

In addition to being a delicious snack on their own, grapefruit sections can add a tart bite to salads, and the zest can supercharge vinaigrettes, teas and even plain water. In fact, it’s smart to eat the zest whenever you can, since more than half of a grapefruit’s vitamin C is in the layers of the peel.

Here’s a simple but delicious recipe to enjoy this new year!

Avocados and Oranges with Tahini Yogurt Sauce
MAKES 4 SERVINGS

This salad is an interesting marriage of sweet and savory flavors and creamy and juicy textures. Sweet grapefruit makes an equally delicious substitution for the oranges. For a heftier appetizer, top with a few grilled prawns.

Ingredients:
1 medium avocado, peeled and sliced
2 medium seedless navel oranges, peeled and segmented
4 tablespoons Tahini Yogurt Sauce (recipe below)
1 tablespoon chopped parsley or fresh cilantro, for garnish
1 teaspoon lightly toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Instructions:
Arrange the avocado slices alternately with orange segments on 4 salad plates. Drizzle 1 tablespoon Tahini Yogurt Sauce over each salad. Garnish with the parsley or cilantro and sesame seeds and serve immediately.
Note: If the sauce is too thick to drizzle, you may need to add a teaspoon or two of water.

NUTRIENT ANALYSIS PER SERVING
125 calories,
3 g protein,
12 g carbohydrates,
10 g total fat,
3 g fiber,
7 g sugar,
57 mg sodium

Tahini Yogurt Sauce
MAKES 1 CUP

Ingredients
:
3⁄4 cup fat-free plain Greek-style yogurt
1⁄4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1⁄4 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin

Instructions:
Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender. Process or blend until smooth. Sauce should be the consistency of thick cream.

NUTRIENT ANALYSIS PER TABLESPOON
27 calories,
1 g protein,
2 g carbohydrates,
2 g total fat,
0 g saturated fat,
< 1 g fiber,
1 g sugar,
57 mg sodium