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Health benefits of grapefruit 
By Dr Ali Muhammad Khushk & Nusrat Laghari

Grapefruit occupies a high place among the citrus family because of its flavour, appetizing properties and refreshing qualities.

The fruit is nutritive and refrigerant and possesses very much the same properties as orange, lemon and lime. The seedless variety is the best as it often contains greater amount of sugar, calcium and phosphorus. The nutritional value of the fruit varies with colour (white, pink, or red).

Red and pink grapefruits have a higher amount of vitamin A. It also has 325mg of potassium, 25mcg (micrograms) of folate, 40mg of calcium, and one mg of iron. Pink and red are high in beta carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts to vitamin A.

Grapefruit peel is candied and is an important source of pectin for the preservation of other fruits. The peel oil, expressed or distilled, is commonly employed in soft-drink flavouring.

Grapefruit seed oil is dark and exceedingly bitter but, bleached and refined, it is pale-yellow, bland, and like olive oil in flavour.

Grapefruit is an excellent appetizer as it promotes salivary and gastric digestion. It is an important health-builder and a tonic.

In spite of its sharp, sub-acid taste, the fresh grapefruit has an alkaline reaction after digestion. The citric acid of the fruit is oxidized in the human system and hence the effect is to increase the alkalinity of the fluids of the body. Its juice is beneficial in the prevention and treatment of acidity and many diseases caused by too much acid in the system.

The fruit is valuable in relieving constipation. The pulp, when wholly taken, supplies healthy bulk to aid bowel action. It is beneficial in maintaining the health of intestines and is regarded as a preventive food item against dysentery, diarrhoea, enteritis, typhus and other infective diseases of the digestive tract.

According to an expert, “grapefruit is a super thing in the food of diabetic patient. If grapefruits were eaten more liberally, there would be much less diabetes. A diabetic patient can use three grapefruits three times a day. A non-diabetic but with a tendency should use three fruits a day.

The juice of grapefruit is an excellent remedy for influenza as it helps in reducing the acidity in system and its bitter properties arising from a substance called ‘Marin gin, tones the system up. It quenches thirst and removes the burning sensation of fever.

It contains natural ‘quinine’ and hence is valuable in the treatment of malaria. This ‘quinine’ is also beneficial in feverish colds. It can be extracted from fruits by boiling a quarter of a grapefruit and straining the pulp. It is beneficial in the treatment of fatigue. Taking a glass of grapefruit and lemon juice in equal parts is an excellent way of dispelling fatigue and general tiredness after a day’s work.

Grapefruit stimulates the appetite and is used for digestive, stomachic, antiseptic, tonic, and diuretic qualities. Over the years a number of people have promoted the grapefruit as possessing a unique ability to burn away fat. People following grapefruit diets lose weight.

Grapefruit is high in pectin, a soluble fibre that helps lower blood cholesterol. Pink and red grapefruits are high in lycopene, an antioxidant that appears to lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Researchers have not yet identified lycogen’s mechanism of action, but a six-year Harvard study involving 48,000 doctors and other health professionals has linked 10 servings of lycopene-rich foods a week with a 50 per cent reduction in prostate cancer.

Other protective plant chemicals found in grapefruits include phenolic acid, which inhibits the formation of cancer-causing nitrosamines; limonoids, terpenes, and monoterpenes, which induce the production of enzymes that help, prevent cancer; and bioflavonoid, which inhibit the action of hormones that promote tumour growth.

Some people with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other inflammatory disorders find that eating grapefruit daily seems to alleviate their symptoms. This is thought to stem from plant chemicals that block Prostaglandins, substances that cause inflammation.

People who are allergic to citrus fruits are likely to react to grapefruits, too. The sensitivity may be to the fruit itself or to oil in the peel. Grapefruit has serious interactions with many commonly prescribed medications. Its juice inhibits a special enzyme in the intestines that is responsible for the natural breakdown and absorption of many medications. When the action of this enzyme is blocked, the blood levels of these medications increase, which can lead to toxic side effects from the medications.

The grapefruit juice research suggests that flavonoids and/or furanocoumarin compounds are the substances that block the enzyme in intestines that normally metabolizes many drugs. The grapefruit juice-drug interaction can lead to unpredictable and hazardous levels of certain important drugs. These medications should not be consumed with grapefruit juice unless advised by a doctor: The juice of grapefruit is extremely rich in vitamin C and potassium. It can, therefore, be beneficially used as a medicine in scanty urination caused by liver, kidney and heart disorders.

Grapefruit pectin is a natural source of soluble dietary fibre and offers many other health benefits that are supported by scientific evidence. Scientists are studying grapefruit for its medicinal value in connection with the following conditions:

Heart disease and high cholesterol: Grapefruit has been observed to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There is only limited research to support the use of grapefruit pectin in connection with heart disease in humans. It is not clear what dose is safe or effective.

Eczema: One study suggests that grapefruit may provide benefit for those with eczema. However, the study is small, and therefore it is unclear whether there is any benefit from grapefruit for this condition.

Many claim that grapefruit pectin produces a variety of health benefits in addition to those described above. It is now being recognized as a natural and tasteful means for reducing cholesterol and triglycerides.

The other benefits are: The waste from grapefruit packing plants has long been converted into molasses for cattle. After oil extraction, the hulls can be used for soil conditioning, or, combined with the dried pulp, as cattle feed.

A detoxification process must precede the feeding of this product to pigs or poultry. Old grapefruit trees can be salvaged for their wood. The sapwood is pale-yellow or nearly white, the heartwood yellow to brownish, hard, fine-grained, and useful for domestic purposes. Mainly, pruned branches and felled trees are cut up for firewood.

Courtesy: The DAWN;

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