Peaches, nectarines and bright red strawberries are delicious fruits we associate with summer, but have you ever tried some of the season’s more exotic varieties? Visit your local farmer’s market or produce store at this time of year and you’ll find some strangely beautiful fruits from far off lands that are uniquely flavorful and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
The mangosteen is a small, purple fruit about the size of a tangerine that is prized the world over for its sweet and tangy taste as well as its medicinal value. Mangosteen has important nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, potassium, carechins, and proanthocyanidins. In Asia the rind is used as antimicrobial and for preventing dehydration and loss of nutrients due to gastrointestinal illness. In the Caribbean a tea made from mangosteen, known as “eau de Creole,” is a restorative tonic for fatigue.
Dragon fruit comes from the dragon fruit cactus plant, which is native to Central America. Slice into its prickly exterior and enjoy the truly delicious fruit inside, which has a mild sweetness that’s a mix of kiwi and pear. Dragon fruit is naturally low in calories, high in vitamin C, fiber, phosphorous, calcium, as well as vitamins B1, B2 and B3, and antioxidants.
The durian fruit from Southeast Asia is popular for its flavorful pulp that tastes like an un-sweet pineapple with seeds that have an almond flavor. The fruit contains simple sugars like fructose and sucrose plus some simple fats, and eating it provides a quick energy boost. Durian is a good source of vitamin C as well as a host of B vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, B5, B6, and B1), not normally found in fruit. It also has high levels of the amino acid, tryptophan, which promotes calming and aids sleeping.
In parts of Asia this fruit is as common to locals as an apple is to us. Like a lychee the Rambutan has a spiny rind, but its fleshy inside is vibrant red – or sometimes yellow or orange – and it has a chewy, mildly sweet grape-like flavor. Just a 4 oz. serving of Rambutan provides 40 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C.
Aptly named because it has five points like a star, the star fruit’s taste is a unique cross between plum, pineapple and lemon. Star fruit are delicious, decorative, and a great source of vitamin C and ascorbic acid, which helps maintain healthy bones, teeth, skin and a strong immune system.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.