Citrus confusion: Are grapefruit and pomelo the same?

Citrus confusion: Are grapefruit and pomelo the same?

Mixing citrus
Are grapefruit and grapefruit the same?

by Kay Stobel

It’s not entirely clear: grapefruit or grapefruit – is it the same fruit? Or are they two different types? asks a nutritionist.

It tastes bitter, somewhat sweet and is considered a superfood: grapefruit. Like oranges, tangerines and lemons, it is a citrus fruit. But wait a minute: isn’t there a grapefruit, too? Or is the pomelo like a grapefruit?

Harald Seitz, a nutritionist from the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE), told “no”. “Grapefruit is a separate species. Grapefruit is a mixture of grapefruit and orange.” Grapefruit is a natural hybrid. “It was pure coincidence,” Seitz said. Grapefruit was only discovered on the island of Barbados at the beginning of the eighteenth century. On the other hand, grapefruit comes from Thailand and Malaysia.

And there are big differences between the two types of citrus: “The pomelo is much larger than the grapefruit,” says the nutritionist. They can weigh up to two kilograms and reach 30 cm in diameter. On the other hand, a grapefruit weighs between 150 and 350 grams.

Grapefruit looks like a pear


Pear-shaped grapefruit – its scientific name is Citrus maxima, “largest lemon”.

(Foto: imago images / netsuthep)

The two types of fruit can also be easily distinguished from each other by their shape. Grapefruits are more pear-shaped, while grapefruits are more rounded. The grapefruit peel can be smooth, but it can also be finely chopped. Its color varies from greenish yellow, light yellow to orange yellow. The skin of the grapefruit is also smooth, but is light yellow to reddish yellow. Unlike the pomelo, grapefruit grows in clusters, hence its name, which means “grape fruit” in English.

Grapefruit is a popular breakfast fruit. All you have to do is cut it in half, separate the parts and pop them out. On the other hand, grapefruits must be peeled, which is somewhat difficult depending on the variety. The individual parts are then broken, the bitter rind removed, and pieces added to the fruit salad.

And what is a pomelo? “This is where it gets a little tricky,” Seitz said. “The pomelo is a variety of grapefruit, but it’s also an inherited form of grapefruit, which itself is a variety of grapefruit.” What makes the whole thing even more confusing: “In Spanish, all three, namely pomelo, pomelo and grapefruit, are called pomelo,” says Seitz.

Bitter materials are not without problems


Smaller than a grapefruit and rather plump: the pomelo.

(Photo: PantherMedia/Yann Song Tang)

The three citrus fruits are similar in terms of their ingredients. “All three are very rich in vitamin C and have a bitter note, which is mainly due to the bitter substance naringenin,” Seitz explains. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system in combination with other vitamins and minerals it contains, such as potassium and magnesium. “The bitter substance naringin stimulates digestion while at the same time making you feel full,” says Seitz. Therefore, grapefruit is also popular in diets because it is low in calories.

But bitter substances also have a drawback: “They can become a problem for people who take medications regularly.” The reason: bitter substances block an enzyme in the liver that’s actually responsible for breaking down the active ingredients in some medications. “This could increase the side effects of the medications.” So Seitz advises people who need to take medication to consult a doctor before consuming grapefruit, grapefruit, and pomelo.

by the way: Orange also descends from grapefruit. They are a complex cross between grapefruit and tangerine. According to one of them, genetic analyzes revealed The study is from 2018The genome in oranges comes from 42% of grapefruit and 58% of tangerines. There is also bitter orange, which is thought to be a direct cross between tangerine and grapefruit. From them, in turn, the lemon commonly used today descends through another intersection with the original lemon cedrat. Complex family, these are citrus fruits.


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