What’s So Great About Tropical Fruit?

What’s So Great About Tropical Fruit?

We tend to think of them as “specialty” fruits for some reason. Maybe it’s because they’re exotic and travel from so far away. Or maybe it’s because we associate them with Caribbean vacations (and slushy, alcoholic drinks!) For whatever reason, pineapple, guava, mango and the like haven’t gained “staple” status on most people’s weekly grocery run. We grab bananas for sure (the crossover star of the tropical world!) and then the reliables: apples, pears, berries. The truth is fruit presents a challenge to competing goals when we think about meal planning. Do I want to buy as much local produce as possible and keep my “footprint” small or do I want to buy the fruit with the most nutritional bang for my buck? Are we eating fruit from Mexico this week or are we waiting out some new headline busting outbreak? Do I want to shell out for the organic blueberries in the middle of winter or do I want my children to go to a good college some day? All valid concerns. But here’s why tropical fruits should make the cut.

According to WebMD:

“Star Fruit is a waxy, golden-yellow fruit tasting of citrus, apple, and plum,” all kid-approved flavours! “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”.

Mangos are “Packed with antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre.”

Papayas provide “lots of vitamin C and a good source of folate and potassium… with just 118 calories. Papaya contains the enzyme papain, used in meat tenderizers and useful in protein digestion.”

Guava is an “excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, potassium and phosphorus.” Why phosphorus? According to Medline Plus, “Phosphorus is an essential nutrient that helps form strong teeth and bones, metabolize fats and carbohydrates and create proteins within the body”. Plus, I know this might not be the best reason to choose foods but guava is so pretty – you eat with your eyes after all!

“Passion fruit, or purple granadilla (“little pomegranate” in Spanish), is rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, and fibre — with only 16 calories per fruit.”  And the good people at WebMD suggest straining the seeds and using the pulp in cocktails. And they’re doctors so that’s practically a prescription.

And kiwi! “With only 70 calories, kiwis are a great source of potassium and fibre, with twice the vitamin C of an orange.” Plus, if you’re not “texture averse” like yours truly, you can eat the skin. (Really, just the phrase “eat the skin” gives me the weebles but you go right ahead!)

The other reason to consider tropical fruits? It may just make the fish we eat (you know, ‘cause it’s so healthy?), less toxic with mercury. Mmmmmwhat?? Yep, even though we know we should eat fish for heart health, the reality is most fish have some level of mercury and while some (the big guys like Sea Bass and Tuna) have more than others (Tilapia), the cumulative effect of mercury build-up on our long-term health is only recently coming to light. Tropical fruits have been scientifically shown to reduce the amount of mercury the body absorbs from fish consumption. Check outthis scientific paper for the details. And go bag some tropical fruit… preferably in the tropics but if not, then the grocery store will do.

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