Pomelos: Benefits & How To Eat Them (Pummelo)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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When it comes to pomelos, picking the right fruit can be quite tricky as it can be dramatically different from one to the next whether in terms of color, juiciness, taste, and so on. They can go from being seedless to fruit with too many seeds, yellow to pink, and juicy to absolutely bone dry. However, when compared to their citric counterpart grapefruit, pomelos are less tart and tangy.

Notwithstanding their diverse range of flavors, pomelos have several health benefits. For those willing to do a bit of searching for this fruit, their impressive health benefits include their ability to boost the immune system, improve digestion, lower blood pressure, and reduce cramping. Pomelos may also help reduce signs of premature aging, aid in weight loss, and boost oral and dental health.

What is a Pomelo or Pummelo?

Pomelo is considered a citrus fruit and it is closely related to grapefruits and other members of the Citrus genus. Its scientific name is Citrus maxima. It is quite large in size and the closest in size to these kinds of citrus fruits is a grapefruit. Pomelo is primarily found in Southeast Asia, which is its native region. It is relatively less popular in other parts of the world because it typically takes eight years to grow before the seeds can begin to flower and bear any fruit. Also, much of the weight and volume of pomelo is tough and inedible, while only the inner flesh is palatable.

Ideally, the taste of pomelo is quite pleasant, with the consistency of grapefruit, (if you are lucky enough to pick the perfect fruit). This fruit is usually pale green or yellow in color, while the edible flesh inside is pulpy and white, pink, or red, depending on the variety. The history of its use dates back to at least a few hundred years, although it has likely been cultivated for far longer than that in Southeast Asian countries.

Close-up view of pomelo fruit

Pomelo fruits have a sweet and non-bitter taste. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Pummelo, raw
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]89.1
Energy [kcal]38
Energy [kJ]159
Protein [g]0.76
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.04
Ash [g]0.48
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]9.62
Fiber, total dietary [g]1
Calcium, Ca [mg]4
Iron, Fe [mg]0.11
Magnesium, Mg [mg]6
Phosphorus, P [mg]17
Potassium, K [mg]216
Sodium, Na [mg]1
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.08
Copper, Cu [mg]0.05
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.02
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]61
Thiamin [mg]0.03
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.22
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Cryptoxanthin, beta [µg]10
Vitamin A, IU [IU]8
Sources include : USDA

Pomelo Nutrition

As per the USDA data, pomelos are particularly rich in vitamin C and potassium, which offers most of its health benefits as explained in detail below. Apart from that, it is rich in water, energy, fiber, sugar, and protein. They are also a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium. It holds some important vitamins such as niacin, and low quantities of thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B-6 too. All of these nutrients make pomelos a healthy fruit.

Carbs in pomelo: A 100 gm serving of this fruit contains around 9.62 grams of carbs.

Pomelo calories: A 100 gm serving of this fruit contains around 38 calories.

This rich nutrient profile of pomelos makes them a healthy addition to any diet.

Pomelo Health Benefits

The health benefits of these citrus fruits are explained below.

Rich in antioxidants

Pomelos are rich in antioxidants that prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals, that further result in various chronic health problems. Pomelos are a rich source of antioxidants like naringenin and naringin, which are commonly found in citrus fruits. They also contain another flavonoid known as lycopene. All of these are known for their anti-inflammatory and heart-healthy properties.

Boosts Immunity

A peeled pomelo (nearly 21 ounces or 610 grams) consists of nearly 412 percent of the daily value. This major source of ascorbic acid has been used for generations as a quick immune system booster. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to increase white blood cell activity and attack free radicals, which can damage the organs of the body. It helps to fight off infections that lead to colds, coughs, fevers, and serious symptoms or microbial, viral, and bacterial infections.

Aids in Digestion

Most fruits contain high amounts of fiber and pomelos are no exception. One pomelo (the edible flesh only), contains about 25 percent of your daily requirement of fiber. Adequate fiber promotes healthy digestion and eliminates problems like constipation and diarrhea. High fiber content bulks up the stool, promotes smooth movement in the digestive tract, and stimulates the secretion of digestive and gastric juices to break down complex proteins that are difficult to digest. This keeps the digestive system functioning at a high level.

Regulates Blood Pressure

Pomelo fruit is a very good source of potassium, roughly 37 percent of your daily requirement. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it releases the tension in the blood vessels, and increases blood circulation and oxygenation in the organs. It also reduces the strain on the heart and lowers your chances of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.

Maintains Heart Health

Pomelos may also help reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body, which if not controlled, can result in severe coronary issues. A 21-day animal study published in the Journal of Toxicology found that when rats were supplemented with concentrated pomelo extract, their triglyceride levels went down by 21%, and their bad cholesterol by 41 %. That said, more research in humans is needed to find a connection between pomelo fruit and heart health.

May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer

Pomelo peels contain polysaccharides that may help in fighting cancerous tumors and reduce the risk of the disease spreading in the body. A 2018 study published in the Polymers Journal suggested that pomelo peel extract suppressed tumor growth in mice when they were administered with it. Furthermore, it boosted immunity and killed cancer cells.

Additionally, naringenin, an important antioxidant in pomelo — has been shown to kill prostate and pancreatic cancer cells, as well as decelerate the spread of lung cancer in test-tube studies. However, more human studies need to be undertaken to corroborate this point.

Weight Loss

Both pomelo and grapefruit contain a “fat-burning enzyme” that can help you reduce weight. It is called carnitine palmitoyl-transferase and is not found in many foods. This enzyme can boost your battle against losing weight which is why many dieters choose to include pomelo in their diets. Apart from that, pomelos contain fiber and protein, both of which induce a feeling of fullness for a longer period of time.

Anti-aging Properties

Pomelos are rich in vitamin C and many antioxidants that help prevent skin damage due to oxidative stress, and helps maintain a youthful skin free of wrinkles, pigmentation, and age-related spots. According to a 2013 report published in the EXCLI Journal, pomelos may also lower the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which can cause several skin-related issues like skin discoloration and spots. The high levels of vitamin B1, zinc, and other essential nutrients in pomelo fruit are thought to promote hair health and help prevent dandruff. It also improves the quality of hair. However, more scientific research is required to corroborate this.

Oral Health

Vitamin C, found in pomelos, is essential for producing collagen, which strengthens tissues, organs, and cells. This can boost the strength of your gums and oral surfaces to prevent them from becoming infected or weak, which can result in tooth loss and dangerous oral illnesses. It is also an excellent home remedy for bleeding gums.

Other Benefits

Improves Wound Healing

High Vitamin C content has been shown to help replace dead tissue with healthy tissue and promotes wound healing. Pomelo fruit contains vitamin C which promotes the development of collagen that makes the skin more flexible and fastens up healing.

Improves Bone Health

Pomello is a rich source of different types of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, copper, zinc, manganese, and potassium all of which are important for maintaining and improving bone health. Another boon of adequate potassium is that it can aid in preventing osteoporosis. Potassium intake has been connected to bone mineral density as it helps to facilitate the uptake of other essential minerals for keeping bones strong.

Prevents Muscle Stiffness

Potassium is important for fluid balance in the body. It is a key aspect of muscle cramping and stiffness. Without proper levels of potassium, you will likely face cramps and become susceptible to pulled muscles and torn ligaments, says a report published in the American Family Physician. Lucky for us, pomelo supplies a good amount of potassium content, which can help achieve this health goal.

Pomelo vs Grapefruit

Pomelo is not a grapefruit, although it is easy to mistake the two, given their similar size, color, and taste. They are both members of the citrus family and share many of the same nutritional profiles.

  • Size: Pomelo is the largest of the citrus fruits, with grapefruit as a close second. Pomelos are as large as a cantaloupe or a watermelon, whereas a grapefruit is about the size of a fist.
  • Color: Pomelo is yellow-green in color whereas a grapefruit is yellowish-pink in color.
  • Location: Pomelo is native to Malaysia, South-east Asia to be precise, while grapefruit was first grown in semi-tropical areas of the United States (mainly Florida and Southern California.

How to Cut a Pomelo?

Pomelos aren’t the easiest fruits to eat or peel, thanks to their thick rind. Here are the steps to peel and cut a pomelo:

  • Step 1: Using a sharp knife, start by cutting off the “cap” of the fruit. (You may have to cut through an inch, depending on the size of the pomelo.)
  • Step 2: Then, make 8-10 vertical slices around the outside of the fruit, starting from the cut end.
  • Step 3: Now, pull the thick rind down and away from the fleshy interior, which looks much like an orange. Pull the rind off the fruit completely.
  • Step 4: Thereafter, pull the fleshy sections apart and remove the seeds.
  • Step 5: Discard the excess fibrous material and enjoy it!

How To Eat A Pomelo?

Pomelo can be added to your diet in the following ways:

  • Salads: The Classic Spicy Thai Pomelo Salad Recipe is the perfect example.
  • As a whole: You can cut pomelos into small pieces and have them or mix them with other fruits and have it as a fruit salad.
  • Snack: Dried pomelos make for a great snack option but they have more added sugar. You can also add them to desserts.
  • Juice: You can blend them to make fresh pomelo juice. You can freeze the juice to make popsicles too.

Word of Caution: The high levels of vitamin C and potassium in this fruit can make it hazardous for patients with liver and kidney conditions. Also, patients with hypotension must speak with a healthcare professional as pomelo lowers the blood pressure significantly.

Other than that, enjoy this rare and powerful fruit for better overall health!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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