Week of February 21, 2005
Good Food/Good Health

It's the Season of the Grapefruit

from the
American Institute for Cancer Research

In the 1970s, there was the grapefruit diet. The claim was that grapefruit enzymes would burn away fat. There's no scientific evidence to support this, but there is plenty of science that supports the claim that grapefruit is a nutrition-rich fruit.

February is National Grapefruit Month and grapefruit are at their peak.

All grapefruit are an excellent source of vitamin C, but red and pink varieties provide more of the phytochemical called lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid, a cousin to beta-carotene. Although it cannot be turned into vitamin A like beta-carotene, it is a much stronger antioxidant. So pick red or pink grapefruit instead of white when you can. The skins of all grapefruit are yellow, although some have a pinkish blush. Lycopene is also found in tomatoes and watermelon.

Some studies suggest that people who eat more foods high in lycopene may have a lower risk of prostate and other cancers, and less heart disease. But grapefruit can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications, so check with your pharmacist if you regularly take any medicine about which you may have doubts concerning counter-effects.

This is the peak of the season for grapefruit. Choose those that have thin, fine-textured, brightly colored skin. They should be firm but springy when you hold them in your hand and press them. The heavier they are for their size, the juicier they'll be. Grapefruit should not be left at room temperature for more than a day. They keep up to 2 weeks wrapped in a plastic bag and placed in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.

The following recipe pairs grapefruit with shrimp. The citrus and seasonings in the salsa are so refreshing that no one will notice it is fat-free.

Shrimp with Black Bean Salsa

2 pink grapefruits, peeled
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 medium (or pickling) cucumber,peeled and diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
3/4 cup canned or cooked black beans
1 jalapeno or serrano chile pepper seeded and minced
Juice of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
16 extra large shrimp (10 to 12 count),about 1 1/2 lbs.
2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint

Holding the fruit over a medium bowl to catch juices, release sections from the membrane and collect them in the bowl. Cut sections crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Add tomato, cucumber, onion, beans and chile pepper and mix to blend. Pour in orange and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook until pink, curled and opaque all the way through, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain immediately. When cool enough to handle, peel and devein shrimp, then slit them horizontally along the back, cutting almost all the way through, but not completely, from tip to tail.

Arrange 4 shrimp in a pinwheel design, on each of 4 dinner plates. Spoon a tablespoon of salsa into the slit in each shrimp. Mound remaining salsa in the center of the plate. Sprinkle 1/4 of cilantro and mint over each plate and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 146 calories, 1 g. total fat (0 g. saturated fat), 25 g. carbohydrate, 10 g. protein, 5 g. dietary fiber, 199 mg. sodium.

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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, MondayFriday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $75 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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