You don't have to only rely on premium, seasonal fruit to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals. These tropical fruits are chock full of antioxidants and nutrients too.
Best of all, they're available year round since they thrive in tropical, sunny climates like ours.
You often see bananas offered as a workout snack, and for good reason too. Bananas are high in carbs, fibre, B vitamins and potassium - this combination of nutrients makes it one of the top choices for replenishing energy stores quickly. A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension also found that potassium-rich foods are helpful for lowering blood pressure and protecting against heart disease.
Sweet and juicy, mangos taste great whether eaten on their own or blended into a smoothie. Besides being super high in vitamin C, mangos may also lower your cancer risk. Texas AgriLife Research food scientists in the US tested mango polyphenol extracts on breast, lung, leukaemia and prostate cancer cells and found that mangos offer some anti-cancer benefits. The mango extracts were particularly effective against breast and colon cancer cells, killing them off without harming the normal cells.
Mangos also offer a decent amount of vitamin A to support good eye health.
Have you ever heard the advice to drink a cup of pineapple juice when you have a sore throat or cough? Well, it turns out there's some truth to that old wives' tale. In a small-scale Indian study, pineapple juice was found to be helpful in dissolving mucus when used against tuberculosis cells.
Pineapples also contain an enzyme called bromelain that has anti-inflammatory properties. Either way, pineapples are a great source of vitamin C to boost your immunity and speed up the recovery of common colds and flus.
If you're trying to reduce your cholesterol levels, consider adding dragon fruits to your diet. These refreshing fruits are said to aid digestion, boost immunity and reduce cholesterol levels. In a study published the journal Pharmacognosy Research, dragon fruit extracts were fed to diabetic rats over a five-week period.
By the end of the experiment, the rats had more stable blood sugar levels and showed lower risks of developing heart disease and high blood pressure.
This may be surprising to you, but papayas are actually a vitamin C powerhouse. Just one cup of papaya already contains 147 per cent of the recommended dietary intake (RDI)! Papayas also contain an enzyme called papain that is good in aiding digestion and reducing inflammation.
Another plus: papayas contain a high amount of lycopene and beta-carotene (the antioxidants that are also responsible for giving it its bright orange hue). In a small study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, papayas were shown to have approximately three times the amount of beta-carotene compared to carrots and tomatoes.
In a 12-week study of 120 people, half the participants were given guava daily before their meals. Those who consistently ate guava reported an average reduction of 9.9 per cent of bad cholesterol and an 8 per cent increase in good cholesterol. Researchers attribute this to the high amounts of soluble fibre and antioxidants available in these exotic fruits.
These refreshing fruits are a favourite as a home remedy for sore throats. Simply mix a hint of salt into fresh starfruit juice and drink up! Starfruits also contain a good dosage of vitamin C while being generally lower in calories than other tropical fruits. Snack on these if you're looking to lose weight and want less calorie-dense fruits in your diet.
Don't snub the passionfruit just because it's tiny. For its size, passionfruits are considered to be high in antioxidants and vitamin C - research published in the journal Food Chemistry has found the passionfruit contained more polyphenols than bananas, mangos and pineapples! Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that help to protect your cells against oxidative stress and damage. Reach for this fruit the next time you're feeling under the weather.
This article was first published in CLEO Singapore