Some of the tastiest and healthful fruits you may never have heard of -- from acai to guava to papaya -- are making their way to your grocery store. Learn how to enjoy these vitamin-rich tropical fruits, and discover why they're good for you, with these quick tips.
Highly fragrant, egg-shaped and purple, red, or yellow when mature, the passion fruit, or purple granadilla ("little pomegranate" in Spanish), is rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and fiber -- with only 16 calories per fruit. Tasting a lot like guava, enjoy the passion fruit sliced in half, scooping out the seedy pulp. Serve it in fruit salads, or with chicken, pork, or fish. Strain the pulp and use it in juices, cocktails, desserts, and sauces.
Star fruit (carambola)
A waxy, golden-yellow fruit tasting of citrus, apple, and plum, star fruit hails from Southeast Asia. Sweet-tart, each fruit contains 40 calories and is a great source of vitamin C. Wash, slice, and eat the entire star-shaped treat -- there's no need to peel or seed it. Add it to salads, savory dishes or use as a garnish. Because it contains kidney stone-forming oxalic acid, people with kidney problems should NOT eat star fruit.
Acai berries stem from a palm tree in the rainforest of Brazil. This tiny, dark, round fruit is about the size of a blueberry (with a large, inedible seed) and tastes like chocolate and wild berries. Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is enjoyed mostly as juice in health drinks and smoothies or dried and mixed with granola. Called a "superfood," acai is rich in anthocyanins (responsible for its royal purple color) and essential fatty acids, both believed to provide many health benefits.
Originally from Southeast Asia, egg-shaped mangos range in color from green to yellow to red. Packed with antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber, mangoes are easy to enjoy. Just peel away the skin, cut away the large seed, and enjoy the rich, orange flesh, bursting with a sweet, tropical taste. Available fresh, frozen, or dried, versatile mangoes can be found in dishes from sweet to savory.
The pear-shaped papaya is native to Central America and has soft, buttery flesh with peppery, edible seeds. This sweet, musky fruit can be as big as 20 inches but is typically about 7 inches long, with 118 calories, lots of vitamin C, and a good source of folate and potassium. Papaya contains the enzyme papain, used in meat tenderizers and useful in protein digestion. Enjoy papayas fresh or baked, with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
A hot new super food loaded with antioxidants and fiber, beautiful pomegranates are available fresh in the fall. About the size of an apple, the deep red fruit is filled with jewel-toned seeds held in place with a spongy membrane. Only the seeds -- sweet-tart and crunchy -- are edible. Squeeze for ruby red juice or eat the seeds plain, with fruits, on salads, or atop low-fat yogurt and desserts. One half cup has 80 calories.
Juicy, sweet, and acidic, the guava's taste is reminiscent of strawberries and pears. The edible rind may be white, yellow, pink, or red and may be seedless or filled with pale, edible seeds. Round, oval, or pear-shaped, guavas tend to be 2-4 inches long and are an excellent source of vitamin C. Also containing vitamin A, fiber, potassium and phosphorus, guava can be used in juices, jams, and desserts.
Grown on a vine, these egg-shaped fruits are best known for their fuzzy brown skin and sweet-tart flesh. With only 70 calories, kiwis are a great source of potassium and fiber, with twice the vitamin C of an orange. Peel with a vegetable peeler (though the skin is edible) and enjoy the delicious green or golden flesh and tiny, edible seeds. Use kiwis in salads, smoothies, juices, or atop low fat yogurt.
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