I can't let February slip by without calling attention to it being National Grapefruit Month, especially since Ruby Reds, also known as "Texas Reds," are in season right now in my home state!
Grapefruit is actually a hybrid fruit. The grapefruit as we know it was developed sometime in the 1700s by cross breeding oranges with pomelos (which are also called "Chinese Grapefruit"). The varieties include white, pink, and red. Grapefruits are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, lycopene, limonin, and fiber (particularly soluble fiber in the form of pectin). Both lycopene and limonin are antioxidants that may help prevent certain types of cancer.
Lots of people have tried "The Grapefruit Diet" in an effort to lose weight. Historically people lost weight following this diet for the simple reason that they were eating very few calories. However, there have been a couple of studies that show that grapefruit may help with weight loss, but the exact reason is unclear, and it is not rapid weight loss. One study was conducted in 2006 at the Nutrition and Metabolic Center at Scripps Clinic in California. They found that eating half a grapefruit or drinking a serving of grapefruit juice before each meal caused people to lose at least 3 pounds over a 12-week period. Researchers at Louisiana State University conducted another study in 2009; they found that people eating half a grapefruit 3 times a day were able to lose 4 pounds (on average) in 12 weeks even though they had not altered the rest of their diet.
So eating grapefruit can be healthy for you in more ways than one. However, if you are taking certain medications, it is best to avoid grapefruit because it can significantly elevate the absorption rate of these medications in your body, which can cause negative side effects. Examples of medications that may interact with grapefruit include those that lower blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as thyroid medications and some antihistamines.