11 Exotic Fruits and Their Health Benefits
Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and other Asian countries abound with a great variety of exotic, healthy, brightly-colored, and nutritious fruit. They are not only delicious but also have a plethora of health benefits. Numerous studies have proven that they can prevent certain medical conditions and improve general health and well-being. Therefore, it is highly recommended to add exotic fruit to your diet. This article will talk about eleven exotic fruits, their nutritious value, and their health benefits.
Acai is a tropical stone fruit that grows on a palm tree in Central and South America. It is small (about 1 inch round), and has dark, purple-black skin. It is a cross between a grape and blueberry, but smaller and not as sweet.
Health Benefits of Acai
Here is a list of the main health benefits of an acai berry:
- Loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants play an important role because they help neutralize free radicals and defend the cells from damage. The antioxidant content of foods is measured by an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score. The ORAC score of acai (100 gr) is 15,405, while the score of blueberries, for example, is only 4,669.
- Improves cholesterol levels. There were several studies, the results of which have proven that acai berries were able to decrease the LDL and total cholesterol in rats, according to Nutrition. Therefore, this fruit may have a similar positive effect on humans. Even though additional research is needed, another study showed that acai contains plant sterols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol, says the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis.
- Boosts brain function. Several studies have proven that consuming acai helps protect the brain cells from damage, especially in people with cognitive decline, as per Nutrition. Moreover, the acai pulp extract also helps decrease oxidation and inflammation in brain cells by improving memory and learning skills.
- Acai berries protect your heart. According to numerous researchers, acai berries improve the flow of blood through the body. They boost nitric oxide production in the arteries and blood vessels’ cells to make the arteries relax. As a result, this lowers blood pressure and prevents heart conditions.
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Nutritional Value of Acai
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one serving of acai berries provides:
- 40 calories
- 3 grams of fiber
- 3 grams of carbs
- 1 gram of protein
- 3 grams of fat
- 60 milligrams of potassium
- 20 milligrams of calcium
- 0.36 milligrams of iron
Buddha’s hand is a citron, an ancestor of oranges and lemons that is believed to have originated either in China or Northeastern India. It is considered one of the world’s oldest citrus fruits, and it grows on a tree with long branches covered in thorns. It can be either green or yellow. It is highly fragrant and is traditionally used by the Japanese and Chinese to perfume rooms or items.
Health Benefits of Buddha’s Hand
It is also well known for its numerous health benefits:
- Helps with headaches. According to the study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 2016, Citron syrup in Buddha’s hand helps reduce headache attack intensity and duration. Its effectiveness is comparable to propranolol – a beta-blocker that is used to treat migraines.
- Treats respiratory conditions. The fruit contains a mild alcoholic compound that is beneficial for treating respiratory issues. It works as an expectorant, making it one of the most painless and quickest remedies for coughing with phlegm and catarrh. It also eases breathing.
- Has a positive impact on the gastrointestinal system. This exotic fruit is known for its anti-inflammatory properties that positively affect the intestine and stomach. Also, high amounts of fiber are good for proper nutrient absorption necessary for food to flow through the colon easily. Regular consumption of Buddha’s hand also helps maintain proper digestion and treat constipation.
- Controls blood pressure. An alcoholic compound found in this fruit eases blood flow, helping to regulate blood pressure.
Nutritional Value of Buddha’s Hand
One serving of fresh Buddha’s Hand contains:
- 29 calories
- 0.3 grams of fat
- 9.3 grams of carbs
- 2.5 grams of sugar
- 1.1 grams of protein
- 36 milligrams of calcium
- 16 milligrams of phosphorus
- 0.55 milligrams of iron
In addition, it also contains the vitamins B1, B2, B3, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
Canistel, also known as eggfruit, is a fruit native to southern Mexico and cultivated in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The fruit is either yellow or orange and is 7 cm wide and 28 cm long. Canistel is sweet and often mixed with milk products, making it perfect for smoothies and milkshakes.
Health Benefits of Canistel
Canistel is known as an exotic fruit with many health benefits, including the following:
- Treats swollen joints. Canistel contains niacinamide and niacin that play an important role in the treatment of swollen and inflamed joints. They help improve muscle strength, reduce the weakness of joints and muscles, and rebuild worn-out cartilage. Niacin is also well-known for its anti-inflammatory effect.
- Canistel is good for the eyes. Like all other orange- and yellow-colored fruits, Canistel is an excellent vitamin A source that is important for our vision. Vitamin A is also a protein component called rhodopsin that positively impacts the eyes and allows you to see low light conditions. Furthermore, canistel also contains carotenoids that have antioxidant properties and prevent eye damage by free radicals, according to the FASEB Journal.
- Boosts and supports the immune system. This exotic fruit is also a great source of ascorbic acid or vitamin C, known for its ability to boost the immune system, says research in Nutrients. Vitamin C contributes to the defense of the immune system and supports various cellular functions of both the adaptive and innate immune systems. Vitamin C is known for its barrier function against dangerous pathogens and protects against environmental oxidative stress. Numerous studies also reveal that vitamin C helps reduce the duration of colds and the risk of developing other health issues, including lung infections and pneumonia.
Nutritional Value of Canistel
One cup of canistel (about 100 grams) contains:
- 138.8 calories
- 10 grams of fiber
- 13 grams of fat
- 2.5 grams of protein
- 36.7 grams of carbs
- 92 milligrams of iron
- 26.5 grams of calcium
There are also vitamins B1, B2, B3, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
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Chayote is a member of the squash family. It is also known by the names chuchu, mirliton, choko, chocho, or tayota. It is native to Mexico and can be eaten raw or in salsa. Most recipes call for the fruit to be marinated in citrus, lemon or lime, prior to serving. Chayote is also served cooked lightly so as to protect the fruit’s texture.
Health Benefits of Chayote
Chayote fruit is packed with vitamin C, a strong antioxidant, and amino acids. It’s also rich in polyphenols and carotenoids, according to Food Chemistry. Health benefits related to these include:
- Fights oxidative stress. According to research published in the journal Antioxidants, Chayote shows adults with metabolic syndrome showed reduced signs of inflammation when consuming the fruit. Strong antioxidant properties were also noted.
- Strengthen immune function. The squash is an excellent source of vitamin C, with 7.7 milligrams for a 100-gram portion. “Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress,” according to Nutrients.
- Helps fight the common cold. No cure for the common cold has been discovered, yet, but foods like Chayote pack enough vitamin C to support the immune system fighting off developing colds. Research in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine shares, “vitamin C [is good] for both preventive and therapeutic purposes.”
Nutritional Value of Chayote
One serving of Chayote squash (about 100 grams) contains the following:
- 19 calories
- 0.13 grams of fat
- 4.51 grams of carbs
- 1.66 grams of sugar
- 1.7 grams of fiber
- 0.82 grams of protein
- 17 milligrams of calcium
- 0.34 milligrams of iron
- 12 milligrams of magnesium
- 18 milligrams of phosphorus
- 125 milligrams of potassium
Custard apple, also known as Cherimoya, is an oval-shaped fruit known for its sweet taste, pleasant aroma, rich flavor, and creamy juicy flesh. It is believed to have originated in the Andes mountains of South America. It is often served chilled like custard and eaten with a spoon. Its taste is similar to other sweet tropical fruits, such as banana or pineapple.
Health Benefits of Custard Apple
It is one of the healthiest exotic fruits with several health benefits. Here is a list:
- High in antioxidants. The fruit is filled with antioxidants that help fight free radicals. Free radicals can lead to oxidative stress and different chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular conditions, among others. Carotenoid antioxidants of custard apple are potent and beneficial, says the Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Numerous studies show that carotenoids reduce the risk of heart conditions and improve eye health.
- It has a positive impact on mental health and boosts mood. Custard apple is an excellent source of vitamin B6 that plays a vital role in creating neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, says research in the journal Nutrients. They are responsible for regulating happiness, mood, and stress response. The lack of vitamin B6 is linked to low mood.
- Cherimoya works to stabilize blood pressure. Custard apple is high in nutrients, including magnesium and potassium, that help regulate blood pressure. Magnesium and potassium are needed to promote the dilation of blood vessels, which helps lower blood pressure. As a result, there is a lower risk of such cardiovascular conditions. Moreover, according to one study in Current Hypertension Reports, potassium can also reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure by about 8 and 4 mm Hg, respectively.
Nutritional Value of Custard Apple
One serving of raw custard apple (about 100 grams) contains the following:
- 101 calories
- 0.6 grams of fat
- 25 grams of carbs
- 2.4 grams of fiber
- 1.7 grams of protein
- 0.71 milligrams of iron
- 382 milligrams of potassium
- 11 milligrams of sodium
In addition, it is also rich in vitamins A, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Goji is a small fruit that is also known as wolfberry. It is native to Tibet, where it is called “the laughing berry.” Goji berries are often sold powdered or dried. Also, they are often added to many juice blends and supplements. Goji berries are well known for their bright red color, sweetness, and a bit of sour flavor.
Health Benefits of Goji
Goji is highly beneficial for health, and it provides numerous health benefits. Here is a list of a few of them:
- It supports the immune function. Goji berries are often used in traditional medicine to enhance the immune system. In one 30-day study in the Journal of Medicinal Food, 60 older adults participated. Every day they were drinking four ounces of Goji berry juice, which had a positive impact on their general health and wellbeing.
- Promotion of eye health. Several research pieces suggest that goji berries improve eye health and prevent the development of certain issues, including macular degeneration that can cause complete vision loss if not treated, says research in the Community Eye Health Journal. A 90-day study in Optometry and Vision Science was conducted, in which 150 older adults participated. The study results showed that Goji berries’ regular consumption during three months prevented the macula’s hyperpigmentation (the central part of the retina) and softened fatty protein deposits located under the retina. Moreover, Goji berries also contain zeaxanthin – an antioxidant that protects the retina and lenses against damage.
- Promotion of healthy skin. Goji berries are also a great source of an essential plant phytochemical called beta-carotene. It is well known for its ability to promote healthy skin. It is a common ingredient in many skin creams because of its ability to improve skin health, manage the sun’s effects, reduce premature skin aging, and reduce skin irritation.
Nutritional Value of Goji
One ounce (about 28 grams) of dried Goji berries contains the following:
- 98 calories
- 21.6 grams of carbs
- 3.64 grams of fiber
- 12.8 grams of sugar
- 0.1 grams of fat
- 4 grams of protein
In addition, Goji berries are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, selenium, riboflavin, iron, and calcium.
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Durian is a tropical fruit covered with a thick shell and green spikes with brown tips. It is known for its strange combination of sweet, savory, and creamy all at once. One of the most distinctive features of durian is its pungent odor. The fruit is native to Southeast Asia, including such countries as Malaysia, Singapore, and others. An interesting fact about durian is that due to its overpowering odor, it is banned on many types of public transport in Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand.
Health Benefits of Durian
Durian is considered one of the healthiest exotic fruits that boast the following health benefits, according to Food Chemistry:
- Prevention of cardiovascular conditions. Since durian is high in fiber and unsaturated fats, it can regulate blood pressure, which reduces the risk of a long list of possible heart problems. Moreover, numerous studies have proven that regular intake of fruits rich in fiber reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C).
- Combating skin pigmentation and wrinkles. Durian contains a lot of vitamin C, known for its antioxidant properties and ability to reduce wrinkles and skin pigmentation. Therefore, adding this exotic fruit to your diet helps supplement the beauty regime.
- Support of bone health. Since durian is rich in potassium, copper, and iron, it helps maintain healthy bones. High levels of iron help increase bone density.
Nutritional Value of Durian
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup (about 243 grams) of frozen or fresh durian contains the following:
- 357 calories
- 13 grams of fat
- 9.2 grams of fiber
- 3.6 grams of protein
- 66 grams of carbs
This exotic fruit is also rich in vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, copper, riboflavin, and potassium.
Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne tropical fruit in the world. It can reach up to 2 feet (60 cm) long and weigh up to 40 pounds (18 kg). It is native to the southern part of India and is currently grown in many tropical countries. It is oval, spined, and well known for its sweet taste, likened to pineapples and bananas. An interesting fact about jackfruit is that it is considered to be a great vegan alternative to meat.
Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Just like other tropical fruits, Jackfruit contains many different minerals and vitamins, making it very beneficial. Here is a list of its main health benefits of this fruit that you should know about:
- It helps with blood sugar management. Jackfruit has a relatively low glycemic index (GI). GI helps to measure how quickly blood sugar increases after a meal. Low-GI foods are believed to help control blood sugar, according to the Ceylon Medical Journal. Moreover, protein also contained in jackfruit prevents blood sugar levels from rising too fast after eating. The results of one study showed that people who consumed jackfruit extract had improved blood sugar levels, as per research shared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
- It reduces blood pressure. Jackfruit is known as a great source of potassium. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), food rich in potassium helps control blood pressure. Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium and reduces tension in the walls of blood vessels. The AHA recommends consuming at least 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day, which equals about 6-7 slices of jackfruit. However, people with kidney conditions should be cautious when they consume potassium because it may be dangerous for their health.
Nutritional Value of Jackfruit
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of raw jackfruit contains:
- 157 calories
- 1.06 gram of fat
- 38.36 grams of carbs
- 2.84 grams of protein
- 2.5 grams of fiber
- 48 grams of magnesium
- 739 milligrams of potassium
- 22 milligrams of vitamin C
- 31.48 grams of sugar
Lychee is a rounded tropical fruit with a sweet strawberry-like flavor grown mostly in Taiwan, Vietnam, and China. Lychee is usually eaten fresh or can be used in ice cream. It is also often processed into wine, jelly, sherbet, and juice. They have leathery pink skin that needs to be removed before consumption.
Health Benefits of Lychee
Lychee is rich in vitamins and minerals and therefore is beneficial for our health. Here is a list of the main benefits of this tropical fruit:
- It helps digestion. Since lychee contains a lot of fiber, it is beneficial for the digestive tract, according to research in Food & Function. It stimulates the peristaltic motion of the small intestine muscles, increases the speed of food passing, and reduces the risk of constipation and digestive issues. According to the study conducted by the Journal of Functional Fruit, lychee contributes to reducing abdominal obesity, says research in the Journal of Functional Foods.
- Lychee boosts the immune system. Lychee is one of the richest sources of vitamin C because it has more than 100% of the daily requirement in a single serving, according to the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. As a significant antioxidant, vitamin C stimulates white blood cells, considered the immune system’s primary defense line.
- Lychee has antiviral properties, research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry shares. Lychee also contains proanthocyanidins that have demonstrated useful antiviral properties. It helps prevent the spread and outbreak of different viruses.
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Nutritional Value of Lychee
One serving of fresh lychee (about 100 grams) contains the following nutrients:
- 66 calories
- 0.8 grams of protein
- 15.2 grams of sugar
- 1.3 grams of fiber
- 16.5 grams of carbs
- 0.4 grams of fat
In addition, it is also rich in minerals and vitamins, including vitamin C, potassium, and copper.
Longan is another healthy tropical fruit that is related to lychee. It is rounded and about the size of a large grape. Longan grows in clusters on trees. The fruit is native to Southern China and is currently grown in Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Phillippines, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Mauritius. It has a tan, tough shell and white flesh surrounding the seed. It also has a nickname – dragon’s eye.
Health Benefits of Longan
Longan is well known for its health benefits. Here is a list of several of them:
- Skincare. It has been proven that longan has a positive effect on the skin. It can eliminate age spots, wrinkles and reduce the appearance of scars. Also, due to vitamins B and C and antioxidants, this fruit is well-known for its anti-aging properties and the ability to minimize dryness of the skin, according to Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technology.
- Heart health. Since longan is rich in vitamin C, it is believed to prevent heart conditions and improve cardiovascular health, according to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. It reduces stiffening of the arteries, which is considered a feature of cardiovascular issues.
- Control of blood pressure. This exotic fruit is also rich in potassium, which plays a central role in the normal regulation and control of blood pressure, research in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology reports. Many nutritionists believe that one of the main reasons why so many people have high blood pressure is because they consume only about half of the recommended amount of potassium. By adding longan to your diet, you can significantly reduce the risk of conditions associated with high blood pressure.
Nutritional Value of Longan
One serving of this fruit (about 20 pieces of fresh longans) contains:
- 38 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 0 grams of fat
- 0 grams of sugar
- 10 grams of carbs
- 1.1 grams of fiber
Also, longan is rich in potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B2.
Papaya is an orange and green exotic fruit, the scientific name of which is Caprica Papaya. It has a sweet taste and soft texture. The seeds of the fruit are also edible, even though they are bitter than the papaya itself. Papaya has originated in Central America. Today papaya is grown in such tropical regions and countries as Australia, the Phillippines, Hawaii, India, Ceylon, and some African countries.
Health Benefits of Papaya
Here is a list of the main health benefits of papaya:
- It prevents age-related macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a common eye issue among older adults over 50. Due to the macula’s thinning (part of the retina responsible for clear vision), the vision may become reduced and blurred. Several studies have proven that regular consumption of papaya that contains antioxidants helps decrease the development and progression of macular degeneration, as published in Archives of Ophthalmology.
- Hair and skin health. Papaya is rich in vitamin A that helps keep hair moisturized, according to Dermatology & Therapy. This vitamin is also responsible for the progression of the proper growth of all bodily tissues, including hair and skin. Also, it has vitamin C needed for building and maintaining collagen that improves skin elasticity.
- Cardiovascular health and prevention of heart conditions. The vitamin content and potassium contained in papaya all contribute to cardiovascular health. It has proven an increase in potassium intake is an effective dietary change that a person can make to reduce the risk of a cardiovascular condition, as per Physiologia Plantarum.
Nutritional Value of Papaya
100 grams of fresh papaya contains approximately the following:
- 32 calories
- 0.6 grams of protein
- 0.1 grams of fat
- 7.2 grams of fat
- 2.6 grams of fiber
In addition, papaya is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, folate, and copper.
Fruits are an essential part of an everyday healthy diet. Numerous studies have proven that they are critical for promoting general health and wellbeing. There are many different fruits you can find in stores today, and some of them may be too exotic and unknown. Many people do not know the benefits of all those tropical fruits they see in the market. We hope that you will come away with a better understanding of some exotic fruits’ benefits after reading this article.
Each of these exotic fruits offers amazing health benefits that work hand-in-hand with weight loss to creating long-term, lasting change. When you change how you look at food and you learn how to choose foods that offer the best nutrition for your body, you’ll lose weight naturally. Check out Noom today. The program is available as a free trial offer, so you can give it a try for yourself.
Summer Banks has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with professionals in the weight loss industry and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University.