February is National Grapefruit Month! Grapefruits are in the citrus family, and are a very common fruit, especially in Florida. They come in a variety of colors, including red, pink and white. In this blog, we will take a look at the history of grapefruit, Florida grapefruit, and most importantly the health benefits that this fruit provides.
History of Grapefruit
Grapefruit is thought to have originated from Barbados, where it was called one of the “Seven Wonders of Barbados”. It became relatively popular in the West Indies before spreading its influence on America. It first arrived in 1823, and at first wasn’t very popular. It wasn’t until 1885 that this fruit started to gain popularity. The United States is now one of the largest consumers of grapefruit.
Florida is considered the top state for grapefruit production and is known for its unique and fresh flavor. Indian River County is especially known for their grapefruit, and in 2020-2021, they were second in the state for grapefruit production, just behind St. Lucie County. In 2020, the total value of grapefruit production in Florida was $65.2 million and counted for 33% of US value.
Indian River County citrus has been dubbed as “the finest in the world” by many local producers. This is said to be because of the good soil conditions that can be found throughout much of eastern Florida. Indian River’s premium crop is considered to be grapefruit and according to the Indian River Citrus League, 70% of the total grapefruit grown in Florida comes from the Indian River citrus district.
Florida’s citrus industry has been extremely impacted by the Huanglongbing (HLB) or citrus greening disease. The US used to be the leading producer of grapefruit, but due to the spread of HLB, these numbers fell drastically in the years 2004-2006. However, after a decline in US production in the last 2 decades, a 10% increase in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons has been observed. UF/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center is currently conducting a research experiment on over 5,500 citrus trees to discover what trees can tolerate HLB. The results will have a great impact on Florida’s citrus producers.
Grapefruit is known for its many health benefits, and while much of grapefruit is water, it contains many vitamins and nutrients. Grapefruit is an extremely nutrient dense food. Some health benefits include:
- Fiber: Like many fruits, grapefruit contains fiber. Fiber can help with digestion as well as regulating and lowering LDL cholesterol.
- Vitamin C: Being part of the citrus family, grapefruits are high in vitamin C. A whole medium sized grapefruit gives you 100% of your daily vitamin C intake. Vitamin C is good for your immune system!
- Vitamin A: Grapefruit is unique in its high level of Vitamin A. A whole grapefruit can provide you with over 50% of your daily vitamin A intake, while a whole orange contains 4%.
Due to these nutrient contents, and many more, grapefruit can aid in iron absorption, metabolic health, immune health, and lessens inflammation. Consider buying locally and adding this nutritious food to your diet!
Written by Samantha Walter-Cano, Edited by Andrea Lazzari
Chen, L and House, L. (2021, May 11). An Overview of the Grapefruit Market in the U.S. UF/IFAS Extension. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FE1095