More sweet than sour, with juicy meat and pulp, pomelos are grandfathers to grapefruits. This gentle giant of the citrus family is native to Malaysia and Southeast Asia, but has been introduced to many tropical countries as well as California, Florida and Hawaii of the United States. Also called pulmetto, shaddock, French chadec, Malayan limau besar, Bali lemon, and Chinese grapefruit - I discovered the fruit when a client shared her tree's bounty. The delicious pomelo can enhance a healthy diet. Here are ten reasons why.
Sweet with just a hint of grapefruit-like tang, pomelos are refreshing first thing in the morning or cold from the refrigerator, as a fortifying snack. Its juice can be a tasty addition to sauces, salads, salsas and marinades. The curious mixture of melon-like sweetness with citrus tang makes pomelo juice a welcome addition to many recipes - add a skinless, seedless wedge to flavor your favorite ice tea.
2. Low Calorie and Low Fat
Pomelos have 0% fat and 72 calories per cup/190 grams - a dieter's delight! Most everyone has heard of the Grapefruit Diet, which become popular in Hollywood in the 1930s, and saw another resurgence in the 1970s. Both grapefruit and pomelo contain a fat burning enzyme, which theoretically increases the dieter's success. This fad diet, promoted extremely low calorie intake, and eating grapefruit before every meal.
While due to its low calorie intake, the Grapefruit Diet is unhealthy, the principle behind eating grapefruits is a sound one. Pomelos, like grapefruits have a fiber content of 8% daily value or DV. The Food and Drug Administration describes DV as percentage of the recommended daily intake for nutrients for adults and children ages 4 and up. Eating such low calorie fiber creates a full feeling in your stomach and you eat less. Eating fiber also keeps your bowels healthy and prevents colon cancer.
4. Vitamin C
Citrus fruit burgeon with vitamin C, and the pomelo is no exception. Pomelo provides 193% DV of Vitamin C. Recent studies have shown Vitamin C strengthens your immune system when it weakens due to stress. And although Vitamin C can not cure the common cold, it can prevent you from developing additional cold complications such as lung infections or pneumonia. Persons with a higher concentration of vitamin C in their blood have a 42% lower risk of developing a stroke. Vitamin C has been shown to aid in macular degeneration, inflamation, cancer and cardiovascular deterioration.
5. Heart Health
Pomelos have 410 mg of potassium per serving, which like Vitamin C plays a role in supporting the heart. There is no DV for potassium but 4700 mg per day is considered adequate. This essential mineral regulates blood pressure levels. Abundant with pectin, pomelo juice is capable of clearing the arterial deposits accumulated in the body, thereby reducing the impurities and benefitting people with hypertension. People on blood thinning, kidney and other medications need to use caution when eating potassium rich foods like pomelos, as it can have a negative impact and serous health complications.
6. Cancer Fighter
The Chinese use the pomelo rind in many dishes. The skin of the fruit is very rich in bioflavonoids. This property is helpful in reducing pancreatic, intestinal and breast cancer. In fact, it stops cancerous cells from spreading further. Pomelo rind contains rich bioflavonoids that help in fighting against cancer cells. It prevents the spread of breast cancer cells especially by enabling the body to eliminate excess estrogen.
Most notable, pomelos are loaded with antioxidants that are believed to help slow down the aging process and protect against some diseases - including heart disease and cancer - as they help rid the body of free radicals.
8. Anti-agingGrapefruits and likely pomelos are the only known fruits containing spermadine, which is also found in human sperm. A laboratory-based study found spermidine to protect cells from processes related to aging and cell damage. In the study spermadine increased the lifespan of flies, blood cells, yeast and worms. Spermadine introduced to the blood cells of white mice protected them from particular types of cell damage, but their lifespans were not reported.
When chewed slowly, the pomelo is said to cure hangovers. In Malasia and Filipines, a lotion made from the pomelo plants leaves is used to alleviate sores and swellings. The Filipinos also use it as a sedative for nerves. The Chinese use the entire plant to make medications that cure coughs, car sickness and indigestion. A paste of pomelo rind and ginger can be applied to joints to ease arthritic pain.
10. Availability and Storage
Pomelos are available at most Asian or Latin American markets throughout the year. Choose firm, heavy fruits. Blemishes on the skin are okay. Soft, dull-skinned pomelos that leave an imprint when squeezed or those that appear dried-out on the stem should be avoided.Pomelos keep for a week in the refrigerator, or for a few days left at room temperature. Freeze their juice in ice cube trays to keep for longer periods and to add a citrus zest to recipes.
SPICY POMELO SALAD
Serves 4 as a lunch with sticky rice or as a dish in a main meal
1 pomelo – prepared into shreds (see instructions below)
2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
1 stalk lemongrass - thinly sliced
3-10 bird’s eye chillies
a generous bunch of coriander - split into stalk (finely chop) and leaves (roughly chopped)
a handful of cashew nuts (plain) or peanuts - roughly chopped
4 tomatoes - quartered
2 snake beans (or several fine beans) - cut into 2cm lengths
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice (roughly the juice of 1 lime)
A selection of fresh vegetables e.g. white cabbage or Chinese leaf, green beans (or snake beans), cucumber, celery
1. Take the washed pomelo and cut a slice off the top. The peel and pith is quite thick and can be cut off in fairly thick slices. Quarter the pomelo as shown below and begin cutting off the peel and pith.
- In a large bowl, pound the garlic, lemongrass, coriander stalks and bird’s eye chillies together with the end of a rolling pin, aiming to bruise them slightly but not crush them.
- Add the chopped cashew nuts, tomatoes and beans and mix thoroughly, again bruising slightly but being careful not to crush the tomatoes.
- Add the shredded pomelo and mix well with a spoon, be careful not to crush the pomelo segments. Then add the chopped coriander leaves and stir through.
- Mix the fish sauce and lime juice and pour over the salad, mix again and serve immediately.
Thai fruit salads are typically served very spicy, with lots of fresh herbs and crunchy vegetables on the side.
What it looks like…