When it comes to fruits and vegetables, we often think about he usually suspects – grocery store staples such as apples, bananas, carrots and celery. And to be sure, you can’t go wrong by stocking up on these items, as they supply your body with a bevy of vitamins and nutrients. As good as these popular fruits and veggies are, they overshadow some lesser-known products that are equally nourishing for your body. In this first post, we’ll take a look at some of world’s most exotic fruits; the second part of this post will look at some under-the-radar vegetables.
Avocados – There are many types of avocados, but the one that you’re far most likely to come across is known as the Haas avocado. Originating from Central and Southern America, this fruit has a dark green, bumpy exterior, and is shaped somewhat like a cross between and egg and a pear. While its outside appearance may appear unusual, an additional surprise lurks inside avocadoes in the form of pits. Pits can be grounded up to a powder and used as a smoothie ingredient, although they are often discarded.
Though they may not be striking in appearance, avocados are so nutritious that a list is needed to document just some of their many benefits:
- Avocados can reduce the risk of prostate cancer
- Avocados contain chemical compounds that can seek out and destroy cancer cells, specifically cells that cause oral cancer. Don’t worry about collateral damage, as these compounds leave healthy cells alone.
- Eye health takes on a greater level of importance as you age. In particular, older individuals face a relatively significant risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Avocados contain lutein, a substance that can guard against both diseases.
- You’ve doubtlessly heard about how LDL cholesterol can wreck havoc with the human body. If you find yourself struggling with a high LDL cholesterol level, you might consider stocking up on avocados. One study, featuring 45 participants, found that eating avocados lowered LDL cholesterol by 17% in one week’s time.
- As with high cholesterol, many people are afflicted by chronic heart problems. One chemical compound that may prove especially useful in keeping your heart healthy is folate. According to a number of studies, diets high in folate go hand-in-hand with lower rates of heart disease. Avocados are loaded with this heart-healthy ingredient, as just one cup of avocado contains 23% of the recommended daily value of folate.
Mangoes – Mangoes can make a very strong case for being the world’s premier tropical fruit. Believed to have originated in India, mangoes are grown on several continents, and are cultivated in such diverse places as India, China, and Mexico. Mangoes are packed with antioxidants, which can shield the body from a number of deadly cancers, such as colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and leukemia. The large amount of vitamin C found in mangoes helps to lower bad cholesterol, whereas its quantities of vitamin A promote healthy eyesight. In addition, vitamins A and C both provide a helpful boost to your immune system.
Kumquats – Now we’re getting to some of the truly strange fruits. Kumquats are native to China, and are shaped like small, slightly-warped oranges. This is a fairly apt comparison, as both oranges and kumquats are loaded with vitamin C. Other key nutrients found in this Chinese import are vitamin A, potassium and fiber.
Potassium can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol. The benefits of fiber aren’t particularly glamorous, but they are important nonetheless; a healthy intake of fiber can lead to consistently soft stools, thereby preventing such notorious digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea. A diet high in fiber can also spur weight loss and keep your blood sugar level in check.
We’ll end our description of kumquats with a fun fact. You might be wondering about why this foreign fruit has such an unusual name. The answer reveals the high regard the Chinese people have for kumquats, as the word “kumquat” translates in English to “golden orange.”
Dragon Fruits – From the somewhat strange to the truly bizarre. Also known as pitayas (a much less cooler name, obviously), Dragon Fruits look like something straight out of a science fiction/fantasy movie. Though it is fairly challenging to describe their appearance, Dragon Fruits can reasonably be said to look like pink water balloons, with dragon-like green scales sticking out from its surface. Told you it wouldn’t be easy!
The strangeness of this Central American treat doesn’t stop with its skin. Slicing open the fruit reveals a flesh with white coloring, though some Dragon Fruits have a pinkish-white or magenta interior. You will also notice a large concentration of tiny black seeds inside the flesh of the fruit. While there is no doubt that this flesh can be eaten, it bears mentioning that the skin of Dragon Fruits is not edible.
Dragon Fruits may look like they are from an alien planet, but they feature a familiar repertoire of health benefits. Eating just 100 grams of Dragon Fruit will provide your body with a significant dose of antioxidants, fiber and vitamin C. This tropical standout also contains relatively large amounts of vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Moreover, research has found that dragon fruits can lower bad cholesterol, reduce high blood pressure and promote bone health by supplying the body with calcium.
Jackfruit – Given the unusual appearance of the fruits on this list, it seems only fitting that we keeping uncovering these amusing names. Next up are Jackfruits, which were originally grown and harvested in southwestern India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Unlike Dragon Fruits and kumquats, jackfruits are strikingly large in appearance. In fact, jackfruits are among the world’s largest tree-borne fruits. At its greatest extent, a jackfruit can grow to a very impressive size. The largest jackfruits extend to 3 feet in length, 20 inches in width and can weight up to a staggering 110 pounds.
The shape of jackfruits can vary. Some have a somewhat circular appearance, while others display a more elongated and oval-like body. Regardless of its shape, jackfruits of all sizes exhibit a prickly, greenish-yellow skin. Things get even more interesting once the jackfruit is split open, as the interior section holds several yellow “bulbs.” These “bulbs” are the part of the jackfruit that is actually eaten, as the skin is not edible.
So what are the health benefits of this large and exotic fruit? Well, for starters, the jackfruit’s bulbs are brimming with vitamin C – a 165g serving size of jackfruit contains 18% of the recommended daily value (DV) of this nutrient. That very same serving will also infuse your body with 11% DV of fiber and 10% DV of vitamin A. Jackfruits have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce levels of bad cholesterol, strengthen your bones and provide the body with a boost of energy.
Mangosteen – No, mangosteens aren’t related to mangoes. For one thing, this obscure fruit hails from Indonesia’s Sandu and Molucca islands. Second, mangosteens have a dark purple/reddish color, and are roughly the size of a tangerine. Removing the dark purple/reddish rind reveals a white colored flesh, which is divided into 4 to 8 segments.
Mangosteens are good sources of xanthones, a potent chemical compound that can reduce inflammation and blood pressure. This tropical fruit also reinforces your body’s defenses against hostile invaders, as it can assist the immune system in repelling harmful bacteria.
The proceeding article was written by an employee of Natural Knowledge 24/7.