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Super foods, the ultimate health foods – Grapefruits (and other citrus)

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Thursday, 26 February 2009.
Tagged: antioxidants, breakfast, diet foods, diet meals, diets, fibre, fresh food, juice, super foods, vitamins, weight loss

Super foods, the ultimate health foods – Grapefruits (and other citrus)
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Grapefruits get the thumbs up from every nutritionist, myself included. I love to kick off my day with a pink grapefruit that I peel thickly, cut into segments and add a thin sprinkle of brown sugar. Nothing nicer before my muesli!  Here's all the reaons why I've classified grapefruits as one of my 20 super foods ....

Packed with vitamin C 

Like other citrus, grapefruits are packed full of vitamin C, providing an entire day's needs in just half an grapefruit. This vitamin can enhance iron absorption, speed up wound healing and assist your immunity so your body is better able to ward of colds and flus.

Soluble fibre

Containing little in the way of fat, sugar or protein, grapefruits are high in water (over 85 per cent of their flesh is water) with natural fruit sugars (fructose).

They give us sizable quantities of a type of fibre that's rich in soluble fibre including the gelling fibre pectin and several gums - well known to home marmalade and jam makers.


Great source of potassium

They offer much potassium and smaller amounts of other minerals as well as vitamin B1, making them a nutritional all-rounder. Few other fruit can match this overall nutrition profile.

Cancer prevention

They contain natural compounds that research shows can help prevent colon cancer and reduce the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Even the peel contains nutritional ‘goodies' that lower cholesterol or ward off cancer, so use it wherever you can in desserts or as a marinade.

Go easy on the juice

Ideally go for whole grapefruits when you can. Freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice is heavenly but lacks the original fibre and is concentrated in kilojoules. A 250ml glass of juice is equivalent to 4 whole grapefruits in kilojoule/Calorie value - a trap for anyone on a diet.

Did the Grapefruit Diet really work?

GrapefruitWay back in the 1970s, I recall how the Grapefruit Diet hit headlines as a way to lose weight quickly. You started each meal with half a grapefruit or 250ml/8oz unsweetened grapefruit juice which the diet claimed had a fat-burning enzyme that speeds up the way our body burns fat and reduces your appetite, resulting in quick and easy weight loss.

This was a fad kickstart diet claimed to help you lose up to 10 pounds in 12 days without any starvation. While the grapefruit is an amazing fruit with low kilojoules and no fat, the claims sound just like a magic wand which doesn't exist! With such a rapid weight loss, you'll lose mostly fluid, not fat. By all means, enjoy grapefruit as part of a healthy, balanced diet but don't expect any miracle weight loss. It needs to be counted as one serve of fruit just like any other fruit. Sorry but true.

Nutrition stats

Per serve:

One grapefruit (weighing 210g) supplies: 1g protein, trace of fat, 13g sugars, no starch, 4g dietary fibre and 265 kilojoules (63 Calories).

Per 100g:

1 per cent protein, trace of fat, 8 per cent sugars, no starch, 3 per cent dietary fibre and 163 kilojoules (39 Calories).

Easy ways to enjoy grapefruits and other citrus

  • Add grated orange rind, orange juice, garlic and Dijon mustard to pork or chicken fillets before cooking.
  • Start your day with freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice or a grapefruit simply cut into quarters.
  • Add a slice of lemon or orange to iced water for a subtle refreshing flavour (you'll drink more water too!)
  • Lemon and honey in hot water can make a soothing and relaxing tea before bed.
  • Chop citrus segments into salads.
  • Use orange, lemon, lime or grapefruit juice to make a dressing with olive oil, Dijon mustard and black pepper. Great over chicken or rice salads with added orange segments.

Easy recipe to try

Cook up one of my fabulous citrus recipes:  Persian oranges with wine and cloves.

Top image of grapefruits courtesy of www.shutterstock.com.