The largest citrus fruit and one of the four originals, pomelo (Citrus maxima) is a delight for one’s taste buds, not to mention a refreshing source of vitamins and dietary minerals. Native to the Asian continent, pomelo is significantly less popular than other citrus fruits, despite its good nutritional profile and pleasant flavor, but boasts multiple health benefits that range from relieving muscle aches to strengthening the immune system. At the same time, the fruit is bad for gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux disease and other digestive conditions.
Eating pomelo regularly can be highly beneficial for one’s health for a number of reasons. For instance, it helps boost the immune system, improves digestion, lowers high blood pressure, significantly reduces muscle cramps and aches, supports healthy bones and boasts anti-aging properties. Some venture as far as saying that pomelo is a cancer-destroying fruit thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action which provides protection from the disease.
What is pomelo? Well, pomelo is one of the four original citrus fruit, along with mandarins, citrons and papedas. In other words, it is not a hybrid like grapefruits or oranges. Pomelo is also spelled ‘pommelo’ or ‘pummelo’. Other common name include shaddock or shaddok (after the captain who first introduced the fruit to Jamaica) and pamplemousse. What does pomelo look like? Pomelo is a somewhat pear-shaped giant citrus fruit with a pale green-yellowish rind and greenish, yellowish, pink or red-pink segmented flesh. Fruits often weigh around 1-2 kg and have a thick rind of about 1-1.5 cm. Pomelos are much larger than grapefruits in size.
What does pomelo taste like? Ripe pomelo is only slightly acidic, sometimes not at all and has a bitter-sweet taste. Overall, it has a much more pleasant and delicate flavor than grapefruit. I personally find it very refreshing and, because of its lack of acidity, it doesn’t upset the stomach like other citrus fruits. The rind is quite easy to peel off and offers quick access to the delicious pulp, segmented similar to oranges. The rind and the pith (the thick and soft white spongy part between the rind and the flesh) are usually not fit to be consumed raw. Most people prefer to make candied pomelo out of the rind and pith.
But what is pomelo good for? Here are the most impressive 6 health benefits of pomelo:
1) Improves digestion and promotes weight loss. Pomelos are a rich source of dietary fiber, indigestible plant material which not only aids digestion, but also partially prevents the absorption of fats at the intestinal level, resulting in weight loss. A serving of 100 g of pomelo was shown to contain 25% of the average person’s daily requirements.
2) Relieves constipation. As a result of its generous dietary fiber content, notably 2 grams of dietary fiber per 100 g of fruit pulp, pomelo adds bulk to stools, facilitating their passing through the digestive tract. This, in turn, helps regulate transit time and relieve constipation, protecting against common side effects of constipation such as hemorrhoids.
3) Stimulates immunity. Pomelos boast a generous vitamin C content: 90% of the average person’s RDA per 100 g, more than oranges. Vitamin C is was shown to enhance the immune system’s natural response by increasing white blood cell aggressiveness, reducing inflammation and fever, relieving headaches and building appetite.
4) Lowers high blood pressure. When it comes to pomelo, one can easily eat 3-4 servings of 100 g each. It’s that delicious! More importantly, such an amount will supply one with around 15% of the RDA of potassium and 10% magnesium, good amounts of two dietary minerals of crucial importance for cardiovascular health.
Potassium is an excellent vasodilator that reduces water retention caused by an excess sodium intake and, at the same time, lowers high blood pressure. Moreover, a good potassium intake promotes good circulation and proper organ oxygenation. Magnesium has an overall positive effect on nerves and relaxes muscles, regulating electrical impulses from the nervous system to the heart muscle and supporting heart activity.
5) Relieves muscles cramps and aches. Pomelo is a natural remedy for muscle cramps and muscle aches due to its magnesium and potassium content. Having enough magnesium and potassium in one’s system at all times may help prevent and cure muscle aches, cramps and spasms, including nighttime leg cramps.
6) Boasts anti-aging properties. Having a high vitamin C content, pomelos possess significant antioxidant properties, protecting against free radical damage. Vitamin C also stimulates the production of collagen, a protein which supports skin integrity and delays premature aging signs such as wrinkles, saggy skin or age spots. In addition to this, collagen also strengthens tissues and blood vessels while exerting beneficial antioxidant effects.
Conclusion. While I am not very fond of grapefruits, which are quite similar, I must admit I enjoy pomelo and eat it as often as I can, both as breakfast and as a sweet snack in between meals. I even gulp on 2-3 segments before a meal. From my experience, it is very easy on the stomach and I find it helps me digest meals better, but I avoided it when I had gastritis because citrus fruits in general are not very good for an already irritated stomach lining, not to mention they can exacerbate acid reflux and lead to heartburn and stomach upset in gastritis sufferers.