In the school of good-for-you foods, grapefruit has always been a high achiever. It's an excellent source of vitamin C, and it facilitates the body's absorption of iron. Of course, grapefruit boasts an abundance of antioxidants, too, a category in which one particular type steps to the head of the class: red grapefruit.
Red (and pink) grapefruit owes its rosy color to lycopene, an antioxidant found, most famously, in tomatoes. "The redder the grapefruit, the more lycopene it has," says Phyllis Bowen, a researcher and associate professor of human nutrition at the University of Illinois at Chicago. People with diets rich in lycopene have been shown to have a lower risk of heart disease and some cancers, particularly of the pancreas, lungs, and prostate. At the grocer's, you'll find the vibrantly pink 'Ruby Red' and the still darker 'Flame,' 'Rio Red,' and 'Star Ruby.'
Any kind will work in the recipes that follow: Red grapefruit gives risotto a subtle lift and infuses an Asian-inspired chicken dish with sweetness. It's also the red jewel of an endive salad and the built-in dessert bowl for swirly heaps of meringue. In other words, everything's coming up rosy.
Do You Know?
A red grapefruit has about the same amount of lycopene as does a fresh tomato, as well as 25 times the vitamin A of a white grapefruit.