Grapefruit is center stage today.
Citrus fruits contain an acidic element that gives the fruits a characteristic sharp flavor. This is certainly true for grapefruits. As with other citrus fruits, grapefruits have a lot of essential nutrients for health that our body requires. Besides being a great source of Vitamin C, grapefruits are rich in phytonutrients such as Vitamin A, beta-carotene, and lycopene. Because of these combined nutrients in grapefruit, they are considered the fruit of “paradise” due to the health-promoting, disease-healing properties.
With that said, let’s get back to the grapefruit. This fruit has an interesting history and you may have even heard it called a pummelo or pomelo. We’ll delve into more about the pummelo in a bit, but suffice it to say at this point, the grapefruit is the natural hybridization of the pomelo and the orange. The evergreen grapefruit tree was first discovered in the forests of Barbados in the Caribbean Islands. An English ship commander was the one credited with bringing pummelo seeds from the East Indies to the West Indies back in 1693. These seeds gradually found their way to other islands including Bahamas and even into Florida in 1823 by Count Odette Phillipe, and when the seedlings fruited, the they distributed the seeds around the neighborhood. The grapefruits’ arrival in the United States in 1823 was not met with immediate popularity, but the trees thrived and rather than referring to the fruit as pummelo, it was soon called grapefruit because of how it grows: in grape-like clusters.
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In 1870 John A. MacDonald in Florida (Orange County) established the first grapefruit nursery, and by 1885 Florida’s first shipment of grapefruits made its way to New York and Philadelphia which definitely created more interest in the commercial grapefruit industry. It wasn’t long until they began cultivating grapefruit trees in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas as well as in Arizona and California.
One word of caution, however, is that if you take certain medications, your doctor may tell you NOT to eat grapefruit. Grapefruit or grapefruit juice can interact adversely with dozens of medications and with potentially dangerous results. The leading compound in grapefruits that is dangerous experts believe is furanocoumarin, which is also present in Seville oranges and tangelos. What seems to happen is that the grapefruit’s chemical binds to an enzyme in your intestinal tract which reduces the absorption of certain medications. It doesn’t react directly with your pills, but attaches to this particular enzyme, thus reducing the absorption of your medication and instead of passing from your gut, it enters your bloodstream. This causes your blood levels to rise faster and higher than normal and in certain cases abnormally high levels can be cause quite dangerous effects and/or toxicity.
You can check out the list of drugs that interact specifically with grapefruit by going to web and searching Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: Grapefruit and Medication. Please be sure and follow your doctor’s instructions with any medications you’re given, especially when some may interact with grapefruit or other food types.
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