Did you know that with their fiber content and low glycemic loads, citrus fruits could be considered a secret weight-loss weapon? Studies have shown that a person can actually lose weight while eating larger quantities of food by choosing foods high in fiber and water content such as citrus fruits. Why does this work? These foods contain fewer calories per gram, provide a greater feeling of fullness and keep blood sugar levels more constant, thereby resulting in better appetite control. According to Dr. Barbara Rolls, the Guthrie Chair in Nutritional Sciences at Pennsylvania State University and author of the best selling book Volumetrics, "Citrus is excellent for weight loss because it can be eaten in satisfying portions for very few calories. The fruit also provides beneficial vitamins and nutrients, which is important for a weight loss plan because people are at greatest risk of nutrient deficiencies when they are cutting calories."
Oranges: The Less Than 100 Calories Snack
Eating healthy isn't as hard as it seems. Snacks are often a source of high calorie eating, but combating the problem is as simple as finding a low calorie snack that is both satisfying and delicious. By now most of us have seen the "100-Calorie Packs," available at stores, of snacks such as cookies and chips. Some say that having such pre-portioned foods at hand could help dieters control their calories and avoid over snacking. Unfortunately, these snacks aren't a particularly nutritious choice and if price is a concern, these pre-packaged treats might disappoint you. The solution: Try an orange or tangerine for a healthier snack alternative! At just 80 calories each, oranges make the perfect, pre-packaged, self-contained, pre-portioned healthy snack. And because oranges contain pectin, a unique type of dietary fiber that helps maintain appetite control, people who eat them tend to eat less at subsequent meals, compared to those who eat "lighter, more calorie-dense foods" such as chips, desserts or candy. Check out a few more reasons why you should make oranges and other citrus fruits your snacks of choice.• A handful of fat-free pretzels is equivalent in calories to nearly two whole oranges, but the oranges will leave one feeling full longer, making fresh citrus an effective weight loss strategy.
• Enjoying a whole orange with breakfast instead of 8 oz. of juice saves 30 calories in one meal and adds fiber, which research shows can curb appetite and suppress hunger levels for up to four hours.
• All things being equal, choosing an orange as a snack instead of a serving of chips or cookies can save 200 calories a day, which can translate into increased weight loss - up to 21 pounds a year!
• Taking the time to peel citrus fruit and enjoy the sweet aroma can stop "mindless" snacking and add to a more satisfying experience.
The Grapefruit Diet
From weight loss to heart health to disease protection, three recent studies shed more light on the multiple potential health benefits of grapefruit.*
Human Study Confirms Grapefruit Promotes Weight Loss
A study published in the March 2006 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Food supports the long-held belief that grapefruit is useful in the battle of the bulge. Dr. Ken Fujioka from Scripps Clinic in San Diego conducted a 12-week study of 100 obese men and women and found that consuming one-half grapefruit before meals resulted in an average weight loss of 3.6 pounds with some participants losing up to 10 pounds. Individuals who ate the grapefruit had significantly lower levels of insulin in their blood, which the researchers speculated resulted in the weight loss. Insulin promotes hunger, so having lower levels of insulin in the blood helps dieters control hunger. The researchers further speculated that a natural plant compound in grapefruit, not the fiber content, was responsible for the weight loss since those who consumed grapefruit juice also lost weight despite the lack of fiber.
Directions for the Grapefruit Diet:
The grapefruit diet is easy! Simply eat a half of a grapefruit three times a day before each meal. While there's no need to alter anything else in your diet, eating less fat and sweets and doing 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week is a great way of speeding up the weight loss process as well as helping maintain weight loss. Want it sweeter? Sprinkle on your favorite calorie-free sweetener to sweeten the fruit.
Grapefruit Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Researchers in Israel found that red and white grapefruit contain powerful antioxidants that help promote heart health. Published in the February 2006 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists found that serving heart bypass patients the equivalent of one grapefruit a day significantly reduced LDL "bad" cholesterol levels. The study included 57 patients, both men and women, who recently had coronary bypass surgery and failed to respond to cholesterol-lowering medication. Red grapefruit was especially effective, reducing cholesterol by 15 percent and triglycerides by 17 percent.
Compound in Grapefruit May Protect Against Prostate Cancer
A laboratory study conducted by researchers at UCLA and Zhongshan University in China discovered that naringenin - a beneficial plant compound in grapefruit and oranges - helped repair damaged genetic material (DNA) in human prostate cancer cells. DNA repair is an important factor in cancer prevention since it stops cancer cells from multiplying. The research was published in the February 2006 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. Scientists noted that DNA repair by naringenin might contribute to the cancer-risk reducing effects associated with a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
*Some prescription drugs may interact with many foods including grapefruit. Anyone with questions about how their medication might interact with their diet should talk to their doctor or pharmacist for more information. For the majority of Americans, there is no reason to stop enjoying the delicious, healthy benefits of grapefruit.
1 Fujioka K, Greenway F, Sheard J, Ying Y. The Effects of Grapefruit on Weight and Insulin Resistance: Relationship to the Metabolic Syndrome. J. of Medicinal Food. Spring 2006;9(1):49-54.
2 Gorinstein S, Caspi A, Libman I, et al. Red Grapefruit Positively Influences Serum Tryglyceride Level in Patients Suffering from Coronary Atherosclerosis: Studies in Vitro and in Humans. J. Agric Food Chem. ASAP Web Article released February 3, 2006.
3 Gao K, Henning SM, Niu Y, et al. The citrus flavonoid naringenin stimulates DNA repair in prostate cancer cells. J of Nutr Biochem 2006;17(2):89-95