When you travel the globe, you come across many different types of fruits, and they all have their unique flavour and health benefits. We may all have our favourite fruit, but to experience the fruits in exotic locations like South East Asia, Latin America and Africa could certainly open a whole new world for you. There are around 100 different varieties to choose, and while some, you may never have heard of, some you'll recognise and others, you'll come to love. There could also be those you'll find hard to stomach. Nevertheless, the sheer joy of discovering new taste sensations will significantly add to your knowledge.
In Africa, you'll pretty much find many of the fruits here you're familiar with already. You can go bananas, on the different types of fruits from Central to Southern Africa. Pineapples (some of the largest in the world), Mangoes, Passion Fruit, Gavas, Watermelon, Spanspek (Cantaloupe Melons) Grapefruit, Papaya, Apples, Oranges, Jackfruit, Limes and Lemons as well as some of the best Avocado fruits this side of the equator.
In Asia, you'll not only find some familiar faces such as pineapple, banana, mango and watermelon, but you'll also find some fruits you may not be so familiar. Such as the Durian fruit found in the tropical regions of South East Asia. You'll also get Dragon fruit, the Starfruit, the Rambutan, the Mangosteen and so many others too. The Jackfruit in Asia you get from southern India to the rainforests of Borneo.
In Latin American, you find a yellow variety of the Asian red dragon fruit. Here, it's more commonly known as Pitaya, and you find them in Central America too. You'll discover prickly pears in Mexico, Mamey Sapote from Cuba to Costa Rica, Guanabana (Soursop), native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the Caribbean, Membrillo (quince) from Mexico and Chile, Tomate de Arbol (tree tomato) from South America, the Lulo fruit from Ecuador, Physalis (gooseberry) from Peru, Cherimoyas (custard apple) native to South and Central America, Maracuyá (passionfruit) from Southern Brazil through to Paraguay and Northern Argentina, Cashew apple from Brazil and Pepino dulce (sweet cucumber or melon pear) from South America.
Prickly Pear - Mexico
Passion Fruit - Ecuador
Dragon Fruit - Asia
If you're looking for a natural low-calorie, high-fibre snack, opt for apricots. These tangy treats aren't only high in beta-carotene, which protects against heart disease and cancer, but the fibre helps lower cholesterol. In contrast, the high vitamin A content promotes good vision. Slice apricots into your breakfast cereal or stew them with plain yoghurt. Dried or fresh, apricots also add great flavour to vegetarian stir-fries. And who would have thought that apricots were a natural stress-buster? Dried apricots are abundant in the mineral magnesium, known to help lower stress levels as it boosts nerve health and helps to relax your muscles. Apricots are also a good source of vitamin C which strengthens your immune system.
If you're looking for the perfect pre-workout snack, opt for bananas. They have an abundance of natural electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium and potassium, which your body loses through sweat when you exercise. It's normal to develop aching muscles after a good workout, but persistent cramping after gym could mean you're low on electrolytes. A medium-sized banana contains about 380 kilojoules which is sufficient enough for a daily hour-long gym session compared with the 630 kilojoules you'd get if you drank a large bottle of energy drink. Try sticking to ripe bananas as they contain more nutrients.
If you're desperate for a good night's sleep, opt for cherries or unsweetened cherry juice. Cherries contain a lot of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body's sleep-wake-cycle and they're a much healthier alternative to the melatonin in medication form which can have side-effects. Cherries also contain cyanidin, a free radical scavenger that could play a vital role in your body's fight against cancerous cells. Cherries are also useful for reducing your risk of gout attacks. Their anti-inflammatory properties might also benefit you if you have rheumatoid arthritis. A few fresh cherries in your diet can lower your risk of heart disease as well as reducing your risk of cholesterol. Why not try some Acerola Cherries should you be visiting the West Indies any time soon. Not only are these cherries good for you but they also taste pretty damn incredible too.
If you're looking to improve your memory and reduce your wrinkles, opt for strawberries. A protein in strawberries increases antioxidant activity and helps to reduce cholesterol in the blood. Along with other berries, strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. This high fibre fruit is also rich in potassium and folate and with its anti-inflammatory properties, it might enhance iron absorption too. Also suitable for weight watchers as these little red gems are low in kilojoules.
If you're looking to rev up your immune system, opt for litchis or rambutans. Don't underestimate these small, sweet fruits. When you consider that the recommended daily requirements are 75 milligrammes for women and 90 milligrammes for men, half a cup of litchis or rambutans contains about 70 milligrammes of vitamin C. They also provide antioxidant benefits which slow ageing and to rid your body of free radicals scavengers which promote disease. These fruits are the perfect snack as they contain only trace amounts of fat. One cup of fresh fruit has only 0.523 kilojoules. They are also an excellent source of folate which aids red blood cell health and metabolic processes.
Durian Fruit is both a controversial as well as an exotic fruit thought to have originated from Malaysia or Borneo but what you shouldn't forget that it's also trendy throughout the whole of Asia. You'll either love it or loathe it. Ask any tourist in Thailand to recall the first time they came across it, and they'll tell you some all too familiar stories. Apart from the fruit's unusual shape and size, the first impression you get from this fruit is its somewhat unpleasant smell, very often likened to the stench of raw sewage.
The Durian or Thurian, as the Thai people like to call it, can be found either round or oval in shape and they also sport a dull green shell-like skin covered with semi-sharp pointed spines that turn yellow as the fruit ripens. A typical Durian can easily weigh four to five pounds, but they've also known to grow more substantial than that, as much as ten pounds. I've yet to see one that size. Once you discarded the thick skins and become accustomed to the unusual smell, you'll be pleasantly surprised how delightful the Durian can taste. As well as being sweet and creamy, it also has a delicate hint of strawberry flavour.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for a general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.