Harvest of the Month featured produce for March: Grapefruit and Pummelos
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; Juicy, tart, tangy, and sweet; let the flavors of a grapefruit tickle your tongue and give you a burst of sunshine on a cold winter day. Even though the fruit section in the grocery store may not be brimming with seasonal variety right now, citrus fruits are at their peak in the winter and it is a great time to try some fresh grapefruit and its less common ancestor, the pummelo.
Although most citrus fruits originated in Asia, the grapefruit originate in the mid 1700s in the West Indies (Caribbean). It is suspected the grapefruit was an accidental hybrid between the pummelo and the sweet orange. Did you know that grapefruit got its name because the fruit grows on trees, hanging in clusters, just like grapes?
The pummelo is larger and tastes sweeter than a grapefruit, without any of the grapefruitand#8217;s bitterness. The pummelo is native to South-East Asia and is also referred to as a Chinese grapefruit. Pummelos have a very thick peel which is used to make marmalade, candied and dipped in chocolate, and used for flavoring in southern Chinese cooking.
Grapefruits and pummelos are excellent sources of Vitamin C and good sources of potassium and soluble fiber in the form of pectin. These nutrients support your immune system, help prevent cell damage due to oxidation, and the fiber helps lower LDL (and#8220;badand#8221;) cholesterol levels. Pink and red grapefruit are also an excellent source of lycopene, a carotinoid which is an important antioxidant that prevents cell damage and may be protective against certain cancers.
Choose grapefruit and pummelos with smooth skin and feel heavy for their size. Avoid fruit with soft spots or areas that appear water soaked. Since grapefruit are juicier when they are slightly warm, store them at room temperature if you will eat them within a week. They will keep in the refrigerator for two to three weeks. Pummelos, on the other hand, should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within a week. Fully ripened fruit contain the most antioxidants.
Local elementary school students have tasted grapefruits and pummelos as part of the Harvest of the Month Program. Follow their lead and find ways to add grapefruit to your meals and snacks. Grapefruit sections add a tangy spark to green salads. Combine grapefruits sections, banana, and raisins with low fat yogurt. Try diced grapefruit with cilantro and chili peppers for a unique salsa. Finally, add some tropical flair to spring in Tahoe by enjoying a salad of chopped grapefruit sections, cooked shrimp, and avocado on a bed of romaine lettuce.
Please note: Grapefruit juice can interact with certain medications by making them more potent. Before consuming a large amount of grapefruit or grapefruit juice, consult your doctor to see if any of your medications react with grapefruit.
and#8212; Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Health Promotion Dietitian at Tahoe Forest Hospital. The Nutrition Coalition is supported by the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. Contact us at 587-3769, ext. 7126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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