Super Foods: Exotic Fruits
Move over apples, bananas, oranges, grapes, and melons! Bring some excitement to your palette by ditching your standard fruits and exploring these flavorful exotic super fruits.
Native to Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia, this strange-looking pink spikey fruit grows on trees and in large bunches. Its translucent flesh has a semi firm texture and has notes that taste similar to a grape.
Super Power: With 84 calories per 100 gram serving, rambutan is a super fruit containing 40% of your daily value of vitamin C. Low in fat and rich in iron, rambutan prevents fatigue and exhaustion by delivering oxygen to your body. With high amounts of phosphorus, this fruit helps to filter kidney waste and flush out toxins.
How to Choose and Eat a Rambutan: When selecting a rambutan, look for a vivid pinkish red colored shell with perky bright lime-green spikes. If the spikes look wilted or the fruit is not firm, keep searching as the fruit is beyond its ripeness. To eat a rambutan, you can either twist off the shell to expose the flesh (as the natives do) or take a pairing knife and gently cut the thin shell away. Pop it in your mouth and eat away, discarding the seed when done.
Originally cultivated in Mexico, Central America, and the northern parts of South America, papayas are now grown in many tropical climates. Grown on tall trees with luscious leaves, this fruit grows in large bunches. Papayas are a versatile fruit; green papayas are usually eaten cooked while yellowish ones are consumed raw.
Super Power: Containing 55 calories for a 140-gram serving, eating a single serving of papaya can satisfy and exceed your recommended daily value of vitamin C (talk about warding off a cold). Papayas are also good sources of essential nutrients such as vitamin A, folate, and potassium which aid in protecting and healing your immune system. A fibrous fruit, papayas satiate hunger and keep your digestive system functioning regularly.
How to Choose and Eat a Papaya: If you plan on cooking with papaya, look for firmness and devoid of bruises. With such a dynamic ability to be eaten, papayas are a fun fruit to cook with and go great in Asian dishes such as curries, stir fries, and salads. To reap the natural and raw benefits of papaya, determine its ripeness by looking for yellowish and orange skin and be slightly soft. Raw papaya can be eaten like a melon. Papaya seeds have a peppery flavor and can be eaten when dried out or added to a meal for a bit of a kick.
Grown on the dragon fruit cactus plant in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, dragon fruit (also known as Pitaya) is a sweet treat. Its interesting and colorful design is a definite draw, while its pinkish white flesh has tiny edible seeds.
Super Power: Dragon fruit comes in a variety of sizes, but about 100 grams will only cost you 60 calories. Containing no fats or cholesterol, this fruit’s seeds are ward off cardiovascular diseases with its high amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Rich in B and C vitamins, dragon fruit strengthens your immune systems and improves your metabolism. High in antioxidants, dragon fruit is known to fight free radicals, repair damaged cells, and prevent the growth of cancer.
How to Choose and Eat a Dragonfruit: Best found in Asian markets, look for dragon fruit that has an even bright pink hue without spots and leaves that are healthy. To determine its ripeness, dragon fruit should be as firm as a ripe avocado. Slice it down the center and scoop out the fruit as you would a kiwi. Add it to your favorite fruit salad or enjoy the sweetness solo.
Grown on a vine of the passionflower plant, passion fruit is now widely grown in Central and South America, Asia, the Caribbean, Australia, and New Zealand. Seen in varieties of yellow, orange, red, and purple, passion fruit is a small round fruit full of pulpy goodness.
Super Power: With only 16 calorie per fruit, passion fruit is chock full of immune system defenses of vitamins A and C. Rich in vitamins and minerals like riboflavin, nacin, B6, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, you’ll easily ward off chronic diseases and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Packed with dietary fiber and carbs, this fruit will surely get your energy levels rising.
How to Choose and Eat a Passionfruit: A ripe passion fruit has a slightly wrinkled and dimpled skin and feels heavy (meaning moist fruit). Cut it in half, scoop out the edible seedy pulp and enjoy the sweetness in yogurt, ice cream, or in salads with your favorite protein.
Born on the acai palm trees in rainforests of Central and South America, these berries have been all the rage recently. Similar looking to the blueberry, the acai berry’s deep bluish-purple hue and inedible seed make it taste like dark chocolate berry.
Super Power: Touted as the miracle fruit of all superfruits, this berry is believed to yield numerous health benefits. Rich in anthocyanins and flavonoids, these powerful antioxidants protect cells and defend the body from environmental pollutants and free radicals. Because of the high levels of antioxidants, acai berries are believed to ward of cancer and heart disease. In addition to these stress-relieving characteristics, acai berry pulp is filled with high amounts of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber making this fruit a true gem.
How to Choose and Eat Acai Berries: Ripe berries have unwrinkled skin and are plump to the touch. Make sure to remove the seed before throwing it into your favorite breakfast smoothie, yogurt, or granola. You can also purchase dried berries and munch on them for a quick snack or throw them into a salad.