Tropical fruit adds color, flavor and diversity to your winter plate. They are full of nutrients and high in fiber. Most are juicy and have a sweet taste – what’s not to like? They are healthy and will keep you from feeling melancholy during the winter months.
How healthy are they? Let’s take a look at several fruits that may be new to you, along with some common fruits.
The top five healthy tropical fruits are mangosteen, mango, longan berries, coconut and avocado. Other tasty tropical fruit you can try are jackfruit and papaya. Remember to eat them as fresh and unprocessed as possible. Some will take some peeling or preparation due to their outer covering.
Longan berries come from China and are related to the better-known, and juicier, lychee fruit. Herbalists often talk about longan berries’ poison-neutralizing abilities. In Vietnam, this berry has been commonly used to combat snake bites. The berries also create relaxation, have anti-oxidants and protect the liver. Let’s not forget they are high in iron and potassium, and include vitamins A and C.
Now it’s mangoes turn. Mangos are rich in the same vitamins as Longan berries. They have half the daily required intake of vitamins A, C and B, as well as beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. Mangoes have a high calorie count, however — 75 calories per 100 grams.
Mangosteen fruit is often found in Asian markets, but rare in North American grocery stores. It has cancer cell-killing properties. This fruit has been used for helping with diarrhea, dysentery, fever, eczema and other intestinal and skin issues. The bark of this fruit is often made into a tea, which helps urinary problems.
The interestingly named jackfruit is a large, yellow-green fruit with an oval shape. Its taste is close to pineapple but without the crunchiness. Jackfruit can be a substitute for meat when raw. It has vitamins C and B. Another fruit high in fiber and zinc, this fruit may be a little hard to find but it is available during the winter months.
Coconuts have many different parts to enjoy. Coconut meat, oil, water and milk all have healthy properties. The sterile water inside a coconut has an electrolytic balance equalling that of human plasma. Because of this, it was used in World War II in the Pacific when there was a plasma shortage.
For several years, coconut  oil was accused of being unhealthy, but further studies showed non-hydrogenated oil actually had special health benefits and assisted in weight loss. Now we know non-hydrogenated coconut oil has anti-oxidants. The oil from this fruit, when unprocessed, is ideal to use when cooking because it holds up to heat better that vegetable oil. It has been shown to boost immunity, and being full of lauric acid aids in boosting metabolism as well.
The next fruit we are going to look at are avocados. They are vitamin-rich and full of essential nutrients which have proven to help prevent cancer and birth defects (mangoes and longan berries are included in this cancer-fighting group, too.) Avocados help shield the liver from damage. They have twice as much potassium as a banana and have anti-inflammatory benefits, too. Avocados have healthy, monounsaturated fats. Their thick skin seems to protect the inner fruit from pesticides, making them one of the safest fruits to buy if you can’t find organic.
We have all heard about the popular tropical fruit papaya. Papaya is known for being very sweet, and often juicy. It contains high levels of folic acid, vitamin C and beta-carotene. We need beta-carotene to make vitamin A, especially in the winter, so this fruit is extremely helpful. Papaya, as if it couldn’t get much better, also improves immunity. It should be noted however, that much of the papaya from Hawaii is now GMO.
Citrus fruits cannot be forgotten in the list of bright and yummy tropical fruits. The citrus fruit family includes navel oranges, mandarin oranges and clementines, which tend to be sweeter than the average orange. They come with vitamin C and fiber, perfect for this time of year.
Tropical fruits have a variety of textures, flavors and colors. They are affordable and are often light on the stomach. Their color alone is enough to brighten anyone’s mood. It’s true. Tropical fruits fight fatigue and depression naturally. Besides consisting of vitamins and nutrients, these fruits have tryptophan, which produces serotonin, a depression and stress fighter. The popular banana is known for lifting a less-than-happy mood.
So, now we know what’s available and which fruit has the bonus we need, but what to do with them? The simple answer is “anything.” You can make lovely smoothies, add them to yogurt, toss them on a salad or even make a tropical fruit salad! Use the fruit in recipes, or enjoy them freshly rinsed. Just close your eyes and take a bite, envision a beautiful, warm beach and the sound of the waves. The tropics are at your fingertips!
Which tropical fruits do you eat to stay healthy? Share your tips in the section below: