Pomelo: 10 Reasons to Enjoy This Fabulous Fruit
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. It is 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 10 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 iced 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 consisted of an extremely low-calorie intake and eating grapefruit before every meal.
Due to its extremely low-calorie intake, the Grapefruit Diet is unhealthy, but 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 the recommended daily intake for nutrients for adults and children ages four and up. Eating fiber creates a full feeling in your stomach, so you eat less. Eating fiber also keeps your bowels healthy and prevents colon cancer.
4. Vitamin C
Citrus fruit are bursting with vitamin C, and the pomelo is no exception. A 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, inflammation, 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 benefiting people with hypertension. People on blood-thinning, kidney, and other medications need to use caution when eating rich potassium foods like pomelos, as it can have a negative impact and serious 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. Antioxidants 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.
Grapefruits and pomelos are the only known fruits containing spermidine, which is also found in human sperm. A laboratory-based study found that spermidine protects cells from processes related to aging and cell damage. In the study, spermadine increased the lifespan of flies, blood cells, yeast, and worms. Spermidine introduced to the blood cells of white mice protected them from particular types of cell damage, but their lifespans were not reported. (See the link below for more information on this study.)
What does spermadine's discovery mean to you?
When chewed slowly, the pomelo is said to cure hangovers. In Malasia and Philippines, a lotion made from the pomelo 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.1
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. A handy trick to keep the juice for longer periods is to freeze it in ice cube trays and add them to recipes for a citrus zest.
Yum Som-O (Spicy Pomelo Salad with Shrimp and Coconut Flakes)
350 g (2 c) pomelo meat
12 g (1/2 c) peeled, cooked prawns, sliced (optional)
35 g (1/4 c) roasted ground peanuts
35 g (1/4 c) roasted grated coconut
5 g (1 Tbsp) fried sliced shallots
1 tsp (1 medium-sized chili) red chili thinly sliced
1 tsp (4 thin slices) thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves
Spicy Sauce Ingredients
1 roasted dried red chili
80 g (1 c) roasted dried ground shrimp
100 g (1/3 c) roasted shallot, sliced
60 g (3 Tbsp) palm or brown sugar
45 ml (3 Tbsp) fish sauce
45 ml (3 Tbsp) tamarind juice
Mix all ingredients of the salad except the red chili and kaffir lime leaves.
Pound or blend all dry ingredients of the sauce until thoroughly ground.
Add fish sauce and tamarind juice and boil until thick.
Pour sauce on the salad and mix well.
Put in a dish and garnish with sliced red chili peppers and kaffir lime leaves.
1. Tate, Desmond (1999) Tropical Fruit Singapore: Archipelago Press
Recipe is courtesy of Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Bangkok