Food of the month - grapefruit

 I've recently returned to enjoying the delights of citrus fruit  in general and grapefruit in particular. High in vitamin C and a variety of anti-oxidants, grapefruit is particularly good  for this time of year. So, it's worth stocking up and including it in your regular shopping order. The pulp contains Pectin, the same substance in apples which gives the fruit  it's anti-viral effect. The juice also has anti-viral properties. However, eating Grapefruit is not just about a way of getting your Vitamin C as there are a variety of other health benefits. Over time grapefruit has been shown to lower cholesterol and reverses athero-sclerosis. (The clogging up of arteries that leads to heart disease and strokes.) It's also a natural way to lower blood pressure as it acts as a diuretic. Grapefruit  has also been shown to have anti-cancer activity and seems to be particularly active against stomach, pancreatic and oral cancers.

I find the blood red grapefruit particularly luscious and I aim  to have half a day  with an orange. Eaten on it's own without sugar (of course) it can be an acquired taste but well worth one to develop if you're not already a convert.  For me it's perhaps a good snack for the afternoon, as it seems to create a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. By contrast though it's also a good  aperitif, as it stimulates the palate. Seems inconsistent but maybe it has something to do with the regulation of blood sugar levels when taken as a snack, which creates the sense of fullness. Yet, when taken as an aperitif, grapefruit acts as a tonic. So, what you end up with is something that has both appetite suppressant and appetite stimulant effects! Just sometimes in nature things can be like this.

Another creative way of obtaining  the health giving benefits of grapefruit is to use the essential oil. Grapefruit - also known as Shaddock in certain areas of the world - is a citrus fruit whose scientific name is Citrus Paradisi. It is also known as Citrus Racemosa or Citrus Maxima. As with other citrus fruits the essential oil is present in the peel and is extracted by compression. Many of it's medical properties match those of other citrus oils and  is most effective when blended with either lavender, bergamot, frankincense,  geranium or palma rosa. However, it's probably best avoided if you're pregnant. The essential oil can be made into a blend for the bath or for massage.It can also be used neat in an inhalation. (Click here for details about the aromatherapy oils listed.)

By activating certain parts of the brain grapefruit oil has been found to  lift mood and relieve stress; which is particularly beneficial at this time of year when many of us struggle with seasonal changes and shorter days. 

Grapefruit oil also has anti-septic and anti-microbial effects and so is  good for skin care and protects against infections. (Although it's probably best avoided if going out in strong sunlight after application.) Grapefruit also balances blood sugar levels and cleanses  the lymphatic system; which rids the body of unwanted toxins. By activating the lymphatic system the body is better able to combat conditions such as cellulite, kidney stones and inflammatory disease such as gout, arthritis  and rheumatism.

Finally, what we all need at this time of year is an overall health tonic and grapefruit has tonic effects in abundance. The essential oil improves liver function and regulates digestive function. It also tones the metabolic, circulatory, and nervous system and enhances excretory function. Wow! Feel better already just by thinking about it!

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