Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mom's Grapefruit Diet - under the microscope

You know, I recall several years ago when my mother decided to go on a diet to shed some inches and pounds. Out of all the diets she tried, only one was successful for her... the "grapefruit diet" she called it. It was also the only diet that didn't limit her food intake, and subsequently didn't limit our meals at home.

Well now, twenty-three years later, it turns out there may be a perfectly good scientifically explained reason her "grapefruit diet" worked so well.

There is a small flavanoid called naringenin, commonly found in grapefruit ...and it is coming under intense scrutiny by scientists from the University of Western Ontario following a recent study which showed surprising results.

Apparently, mice fed a high fat diet and supplemented with the naringenin flavonoid did not gain weight, while other signs of the metabolic syndrome were also prevented, according to findings published in the journal Diabetes.

"The marked obesity that develops in [mice fed a high fat diet] was completely prevented by naringenin," said lead researcher Murray Huff from the University of Western Ontario.

"What was unique about the study was that the effects were independent of caloric intake, meaning the mice ate exactly the same amount of food and the same amount of fat. There was no suppression of appetite or decreased food intake, which are often the basis of strategies to reduce weight gain and its metabolic consequences," he added.

You go, Mom!

Little did we know back then that your instincts were right on the mark.

So... how did her grapefruit diet work?

It was actually quite simple to follow and involved eating just one red (or pink) grapefruit per day. She would cut it in half and eat the first half in the morning (no sugar or sweeteners added) before breakfast and leaving for work. Then, in the evening, before eating dinner she would eat the other half of her daily grapefruit.

Just in case, she also always kept a jug of pulpy, unsweetened, unpasteurized grapefruit juice in the fridge. If or when she ever ran out of fresh grapefruit, she would simply substitute a 6 oz. glass of juice for her morning and evening routine.

Little did she know at the time that she was also benefiting her heart and quite likely, based on this study at least, preventing metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterised by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).

This story brings to my mind the saying, "mother knows best."

Here's to your health! Cheers!