You know that saying about variety being the spice of life? It’s true for fruits as well! And these six unique and nutritious fruits to try definitely fit that list.
Why step away from your comfort zone of apples, oranges, pears, bananas, and strawberries? There’s nothing wrong with those, but enjoying different flavors will keep you coming back for more. With more variety and more enjoyment comes more health benefits, explains Dr. Lindsey Mcilvena at SuperFoodsRx.
“Green vegetables promote bone health, because they contain significant amounts of calcium,” she says. “Red vegetables and fruits contain lycopene, which helps protect us from the UV rays of the sun—a natural sunscreen!” She notes that yellow and orange foods contain carotenes which help protect our eyesight (among other things), white fruits support a healthy immune system, and purple fruits help protect our DNA from damage, “keeping us younger, longer.”
Here are six unique and nutritious fruits to try that are relatively easy to find in major grocery stores.
This giant tropical fruit tastes like a mix between a pineapple and a banana. It has the texture of a pineapple, but less tart. Full of vitamin C, B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, eating jackfruit can help make up any nutritional deficiencies. This fruit is often touted as a “magic bullet”, but it’s never a good idea to just eat one kind of fruit, there’s more on our list!
Rambutan and Lychees
This hairy looking red fruit tastes very similar to lychees. Both lychees and rambutans are high vitamin C and other antioxidants. Since these are seasonal tropical fruits that are native to Southeast Asia, it may be a bit difficult or expensive to find. When you do find some, always ask for a sample to make sure the fruit inside hasn’t dried out in the shipping process.
If you don’t like carrots, try a loquat. They taste like a cross between a pear and an apricot, are the size of an apricot, and contain (usually) three large pits in the center. In Chinese, this fruit is called a Pipa because of how similar it looks to the Pipa, a 4-stringed guitar-like instrument. Their orange color packs a ton of beta-carotene and are a sweeter and less crunchy alternative to carrots.
They’re not as easy to find in US supermarkets, but there are man of them growing in front yards in Los Angeles — particularly on the east side of the city. It’s thought that Chinese immigrants brought the loquat to California, and for a while it was popular among backyard growers.
This fruit can be found in most tropical countries. If you travel to the French Caribbean islands (like Guadelupe), you’ll often hear the locals refer to it as carambole (the French name for star fruit). It gets the name “star fruit” because when you cut this fruit into slices, it resembles a star — as seen in the image above.
The carambole is low-calorie, high in fiber, and contains lots of minerals like potassium and copper. For the perfect ripeness, the fruit should be firm but bouncy when you squeeze it.
This fruit is also known as Dragon eye fruit in Chinese. It tastes like a sweeter, drier lychee with a dusty brown shell. This fruit is so nutritionally dense that it is a popular ingredient in Chinese medicine. Like lychees, these are seasonal fruits that can be found in abundance in local Chinatowns near the end of summer and early fall.
“There’s quite a bit of nutrition packed into one little persimmon,” says Mcilvena. “We don’t usually think of fruit as being a source of protein, but one persimmon has 1 gram. That’s not much, but still, nothing to disregard. Persimmons pack a more impressive punch of fiber, a hearty 6 grams in just one persimmon. Plus, they are an excellent source of beneficial vitamin A and carotenoids. They also contain vitamins C, B6 and E, and smaller yet significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.”
Persimmons need to be soft to the touch, but not mushy and if you eat a crispy one, that means it’s not quite ripe yet. Like avocados, they mature quickly so if you buy a not-ripe one, don’t wait too long!
Mixing It Up
It’s never a good idea to eat the same things every day. You may be missing out on key nutrients and minerals. Fruits, since they’re the reproductive organs of plants, are high in vitamins and other necessary chemicals. Vary your fruit intake to make sure that your diet is colorful and never-boring!