It’s a crying shame that some tropical fruits get a bad reputation just for being naturally high in sugar or high in fat. They’re often deemed unhealthy for this reason, and many people even fear eating them! Folks, this isn’t how things should be. Any fruit or vegetable is nothing to fear; they all have something to bring to the table when it comes to our nutrition, tropical fruits included.
Some people are even surprised to learn that tropical fruits such as kiwi, pineapple, bananas, mangoes and coconuts are actually some of the lowest glycemic foods we have available to us and some of the most nutrient-dense. In fact, pineapple has less sugar per serving than an apple, and bananas are actually lower on the glycemic index than sweet potatoes.
Spring and summer are the perfect seasons to add more tropical fruits to your diet, so let’s check out some of the easiest options to find that are incredibly healthy for you too.
Eat more of these:
Kiwis are some of the lowest calorie fruits and the easiest to digest. They’re also very low in sugar and are technically a berry, believe it or not. Their seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and their skin contains a nice dose of fiber. Kiwis have more vitamin C per fruit than an orange and can even help improve the bacteria in your digestive system since they act as a prebiotic. Toss an organic, washed kiwi into your next smoothie or chop one up on your bowl of oats. Health is just a few bites away, thanks to these beautiful green fruits! Also check out how to use kiwis in your meals for more recipe ideas.
Pineapple is a powerful anti-inflammatory fruit that is great for your skin, digestion, detoxification, your lymphatic system and your immune system. Per cup, pineapple only has 13 grams of sugar with 5 grams of fiber, which is pretty fantastic compared to 25-30 grams of sugar in one apple with the same amount of fiber. Apples are great for you too, but as you can see, pineapples shouldn’t be demonized as a high sugar fruit you need to avoid. Pineapple can help relieve joint pain and arthritis, bloating, and is especially helpful for recovery after you exercise. This fruit contains 108 percent of your daily vitamin C needs in just one cup and is especially hydrating to the body. Have a small slice before your meals to improve digestion, and keep a bag of frozen cubes in the freezer so you never run out. Also try it in a smoothie, oatmeal, raw desserts, or blend it with some orange zest and lemon juice to make a tropical salad dressing. Here’s how to grow your own if you want to try that too!
If you’ve ever had a ripe mango, you know how tasty they are. Mangoes have to be ripe before they develop their sweet flavor though, so be sure you cut them only when they’re slightly soft. The colors may differ, so they won’t change like a banana or avocado will, for instance. When they’re soft to the touch like avocados and smells sweet at the end, that’s when you know your mangoes are ripe. They’re delicious in smoothies and are a great source of vitamin C, containing 75 percent of your needs in just one fruit. Mangoes have also been shown to fight leukemia, colon, breast and prostate cancer due to their specific antioxidant compounds such as gallic acid, quercetin, fisetin, and their natural enzyme content. Mangoes are also alkalizing, great for diabetics since they’re low glycemic, and help improve your eyes, hair, and skin. Try them in a raw sorbet, Vanilla Bean and Mango Chia Seed Pudding, Spelt, Mango and Coconut Bread, Coconut and Mango Fro Yo Cookies, or Raw Mango Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream.
If you’re not already a coconut fan, what are you waiting for? Didn’t you know that coconut is the “new white meat?” These tropical gems truly are fantastic for your health. They’re packed with fiber, electrolytes, they fight bacteria in the body, improve mental focus, help fight the blues thanks to their healthy fats and mineral content, offer up magnesium, fiber, B vitamins, and even 17 of the 20 amino acids you need to stay healthy and strong. See different coconut hacks you can use in your kitchen here, and make up some these coconut recipes ASAP!
Papaya is packed with enzymes for digestion, it’s loaded with vitamin C and beta carotene for your skin, and it’s very hydrating due to its high water content. Papayas are ripe when their entire skins turn yellowish orange in color, so don’t eat them while they’re still green or they’ll be hard and not very sweet on the inside. Though the seeds look a bit strange with their bubbly appearance, don’t throw them out. You can actually use these in your smoothies without even tasting them. The seeds are beneficial for removing parasites from the body, they help fight cancer and help with cirrhosis of the liver, and a cup of them even count as 1 protein serving thanks to their amino acids and healthy fat content. Who knew? When it comes to their culinary benefits and uses, papayas are great to freeze into small cubes and use in your smoothies to make them creamy and sweet without too much sugar. See some tips on how to choose a non-GMO papaya since they’re one of the top fruits and veggies that are genetically modified, and then try papaya in this Papaya and Coconut Yogurt Breakfast Bowl or this delicious Papaya Apple Smoothie.
Other tropical fruits to try include:
- Avocados for healthy fats, fiber, vitamin E, B vitamins and protein
- Acai berries for omega 3 fats, antioxidants, fiber, and 0 grams of sugar
- Bananas for potassium, fiber, vitamin B6 and magnesium
- Lemons for detoxification benefits, enzymes, vitamin C and almost 0 grams of sugar
- Limes for vitamin C, anti-bacterial benefits and almost 0 grams of sugar
- Guava for vitamin C, potassium, enzymes and fiber
- Jackfruit for fiber, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A (and to use in place of meat!)
Check out other beneficial tropical fruits here, some of which you might find locally, and others you might find if you happen to be able to visit their place of origin. Along with your typical apples, berries, and oranges, be sure you eat more of these fruits whenever you can; they’re amazing for you!
Lead Image Source: Chelsea Nesvig/Flickr