See also: Grapefruit Trivia; Grapefruit Quote
The grapefruit we know today was developed in the West Indies in the early 1700s and first introduced to Florida in the 1820s. Today, most grapefruit is still grown in Florida. Since the early part of the 20th century, mutant strains of white grapefruit have appeared with pink to slightly reddish color, and have been propagated by citriculturists into several strains of grapefruit that are now best known as the Ruby Red.
Grapefruit got its name from the way it grows in clusters (like grapes) on the tree. There is no mistaking a grapefruit tree—they are large with glossy dark green leaves and the fruit hangs in clusters on the tree. Grapefruit trees are beautiful and a member of the citrus family offering about 69% of the RDA for vitamin C. Grapefruit also provides about 250mg of potassium and pectin a soluble fiber effective in lowering cholesterol levels. It seems to be a cross between an orange and a shaddock, combining the sweet and tangy flavor of each fruit.
*SEE WARNING BELOW ABOUT GRAPEFRUIT JUICE AND MEDICATIONS
There are three major types of grapefruit white, pink/red, and star ruby/rio red varieties. All grapefruit have a similar tangy-sweet flavor and are very juicy. The grapefruits that are used to make juice are those which contain seeds. The pink or red variety contains more vitamins than the white.
Choose grapefruit that is glossy, round, smooth and heavy for its size. Avoid any grapefruit with brown and/or soft spots.
Store grapefruit at room temperature up to a week, or up to 8 weeks in a refrigerator. Leave at room temperature for a couple of hours before eating.
Make grapefruit part of your 5 A Day plan
It is easy to include grapefruit in your 5–10 A Day Plan. Eat half of a grapefruit in the morning along with your cereal. Take small cans of grapefruit juice with you for lunch instead of soda. Include peeled segments in your salads, or eat just plain with a dash of cinnamon.
WARNING! - IF YOU DRINK GRAPEFRUIT JUICE AND TAKE MEDICATIONS READ THIS:
A cold glass of grapefruit juice is part of the morning routine for a lot of people. What you may not realize, however, is that this same juice might interact with drugs you are taking. The interaction between grapefruit and some medications was discovered by accident when researchers were looking for an interaction between a particular blood pressure medicine and alcohol. Grapefruit juice was used as a vehicle to mask the taste of the alcohol. While the alcohol did not affect the amount of the drug circulating in the body, the grapefruit juice greatly increased the levels of the medication.
Some medications which may be affected by grapefruit juice include: midazolam (Versed®), cyclosporin (Sandimmune®, Neoral®), lovastatin (Mevacor®), simvastatin (Zocor®), ®), pravastatin (Pravachol®), and Thyroid medications.
Certain prescription antihistamines, such as Astemizole which is in Hismanal® and terfenadine which is in Seldane® and Seldane-D®, could also be affected by grapefruit juice. With these particular medications, increased drug levels could be associated with arrhythmias which could be fatal.
If you are taking a medication that should not be taken with one of these drugs, Erythromycin, itraconazole (Sporanox®), ketoconazole (Nizoral®), mibefradil or (Posicor®), the safest course of action is to assume that it would interact with grapefruit juice. An example of this is cisapride (Propulsid®), which is used to treat certain gastrointestinal problems.
If you drink grapefruit juice regularly, it would be a good idea to inquire about its possible interaction with any medications you may be taking or any new drugs that are added. Some sources recommend not drinking grapefruit juice within 2 hours before and 5 hours after a drug that may interact with it. A safer approach would be to substitute another citrus juice, such as orange juice, which has the same vitamins but has not demonstrated the drug interactions.
Remember that eating grapefruit or taking grapefruit supplements may also interact with the same medications. Some drinks that are flavored with fruit juice could be flavored with grapefruit juice. Check the label, if you are not sure.