I have a personal question to ask you, how’s your pants fitting? Mine are tight. Yup, it’s that time of the year when we all get the opportunity to start new and take the tight out of our pants. One of my favorite ways to combat the battle of the bulge is to break out the grapefruit. Their bright color and brilliant flavor seem to cut through the layers of fat and melt them off (along with exercise and proper diet — nothing is a miracle cure).
This isn’t just wishful thinking, it is actually true. Grapefruits contain naringenin, a flavonoid that balances out blood sugar levels and helps to prevent metabolic syndrome, a condition associated with weight gain around the waist. Researchers reported naringenin has this effect because it signals the liver to burn excess fat rather than store it in the body. (Super important for the muffin top elimination program!) Eating half of a fresh grapefruit before a meal for 6 weeks was found to significantly improve blood pressure according to a study done by the University of Arizona (Alam et al.).
There are many other healthy benefits to this fruit as well. It is obvious they are loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants but what most people don’t know it that grapefruit also are bursting with lycopene, which tomatoes are famous for. Lycopene is a cancer fighter called a carotenoid. Among the common dietary carotenoids, lycopene has the highest capacity to help fight oxygen free radicals, which are compounds that can damage cells and cause cancer. (BTW, lycopene is only found in pink and red grapefruit, not the white)
“It is important to note that this powerful fruit has some drugs that it doesn’t play well with. If you are taking immunosuppressants like cyclosporine and calcium channel blocker drugs, such as felodipine, nifedipine and verapamil, statin drugs, or hormone replacement therapy you should avoid grapefruit. The compound we were talking about earlier, naringenin, messes with the way your body absorbs these drugs which can cause big problems so make sure and read about it and stay informed. Talk to your doctor if you have a concern.”
On a lighter note, grapefruit are a relatively young fruit in the great spectrum of produce time. They were created in the 1700’s by crossing a Jamaican sweet orange with an Indonesian pomelo (both very ancient fruits) in Barbados. If you have never had a pomelo you aren’t missing much. They are large grapefruit looking thing that is super tart, pulpy and thick skinned. This cross was a great improvement on this old cranky fruit, believe me.
Grapefruits hopped over to Florida in the early 1800’s and became quite a sensation. Soon there were grove upon grove and now the US leads the world in grapefruit production with Texas being at the top of that pack. It’s no wonder, as the grapefruit is as delicious as it is nutritious. Avocados and grapefruit are a refreshing combo that highlights two fruit that are in season. Try this easy and tasty grapefruit salad to beat the tight pants and winter blues.
Grapefruit and Avocado salad with grapefruit vinaigrette
You can make this meal an entrée with the addition of cooked shrimp. I prefer our local bay shrimp that are sustainable seafood. Serves four.
2 washed ripe avocados
2 washed pink grapefruit
1 large shallot, minced
A head of butter lettuce
OR enough spinach for 4 servings
1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/4 cup of grapefruit juice
1/4 cup of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Zest of a grapefruit
1-2 teaspoons of honey, warmed
Salt and pepper to taste (A pinch is good)
Start this salad by preparing the grapefruit. We want nice fat pith free grapefruit slices, so cut the peels off the grapefruit then cut the segments out of the grapefruit over a bowl so you can catch all the juice. When you are done cutting the segments out of the grapefruit, squeeze the juice from left over grapefruit in the juice bowl.
When you get done with this process you should have enough grapefruit juice for the vinaigrette which you make now. Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small canning jar, put the lid in tight and shake-a shake-a till well mixed.
Set out four plates and layer with the washed and separated butter lettuce or spinach. Now cut the avocados in half, remove the seed and cut into slices, lengthways and arrange on the greens alternating with grapefruit segments in a pin wheel design. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the avo slices to prevent them from turning brown and the rest of the salad. Sprinkle with the minced shallot and pomegranate seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper then serve up some health in the new year.