By Nicole Parmenter, Dietetic Intern for FitNutrition, LLC and Providence College Athletics with Katie Jeffrey, MS, RD, CSSD
The winter months are the prime citrus season, yielding some of the most nutrient-rich fruits known to mankind. This month, the spotlight is on grapefruit. February is National Grapefruit month and it’s time to celebrate the goodness!
History of the grapefruit: The grapefruit is an 18th century hybrid—a cross between the Jamaican sweet orange and the pomelo—first cultivated in Barbados and considered to be a “forbidden fruit.” It was named due to the way it grows in clusters, similar to grapes. It was not until the early 19th century that it was brought to America to what is now known as Safety Harbor, Florida. Both tart and sweet, the grapefruit comes in a variety of colors ranging from white to pink to red.
The grapefruit is a low calorie, high fiber, nutrient-rich food that packs quite a punch. It is an excellent source of both vitamins A and C. It is also a great source of lycopene, beta-carotene and the phytonutrients limonoids and naringenin. Its antioxidant properties support a healthy immune system, protect against cancer, fight free radicals and play a role in collagen formation. In addition to all of these benefits, inhaling the essence of grapefruit and other citrus fruits is great for curbing stress and anxiety levels.