A grapefruit a day keeps the doctor away

Grapefruits are a great fall and winter fruit with their bright, vibrant color and their sweet tart flavor. Grapefruits are full of vitamins and minerals and contain several phytonutrients that help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, cardiovascular disease and give you a boost of vitamin C to fight off the common cold. So, if you are feeling bored with your apple, add some zest to your diet with red, pink and white (also called blond) grapefruit. Here are a few reasons why you should add them to your next grocery list.

Grapefruits are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, B1 and B5, as well as fiber and potassium. Their Vitamin C content helps eliminate a cold faster and contains immune boosting properties to help prevent getting a cold in the first place. Vitamin C also prevents free radical damage and is associated with reducing the symptoms and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma.

Red and pink grapefruit get their color from the carotenoid phytonutrient lycopene (white grapefruit does not contain lycopene). Lycopene helps fight free radicals that can damage cells. Foods that are rich in lycopene help keep cells healthy and eliminate or neutralize toxins in the body that could otherwise harm cells.

Grapefruits contain the phytonutrient limonoid which inhibits tumors from developing. This occurs because limonoids increase the formation of a detoxifying enzyme that creates a reaction in the liver to help make toxic compounds more water soluble. This is important because toxic compounds can then be excreted from the body more easily.

Grapefruits contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps reduce total cholesterol. Red grapefruit has a greater impact on lowering total cholesterol than white grapefruit when added to a person’s diet over the course of a month. Red grapefruit is better because it has higher amounts of polyphenols, which help lower total cholesterol.

Grapefruits contain naringenin, a flavonoid that is concentrated in grapefruits and helps repair damaged DNA in prostate cancer cells. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer related death in men and one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in men. Prostate cancer risk increases with age, each passing year cells divide and replicate, but by giving cells more time to divide there is also an increased risk of the cells possibly mutating. However, eating grapefruits can be useful because naringenin helps repair the damage by inducing two enzymes that repair DNA during the replication stage in which it might otherwise mutate.

Grapefruits are delicious and can now be found year-around. Choose fully ripened grapefruits that are slightly soft, but not spoiled - that way it contains the most antioxidants. Be sure to check first with your general practitioner if you take statins or certain medication that can have a drug interaction with grapefruit.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.