EXOTIC FRUITS TO TRY

It’s true what they say, variety IS the spice of life.

As many plant based pioneers journey along the winding road, exploring new flavours, its inevitable that many will stick to what they know best and neglect to try some of the more exotic, tropical fruits available to the average western consumer. Having been one of those average consumers, and bulking out my lunch box with apples, oranges and bananas, it’s no surprise it all became a bit samey. Which is precisely why I think it’s time to look at what’s out there and why you should try it for yourself. Lets get this ball rolling!

FIGS

Figaro!

Figs are an interesting fruit, commonly about the size of a thumb and filled with lots of tiny seeds. The flesh is normally pink with a subtle sweet taste. The fruit is usually sold dried as it will have a longer shelf life but can be purchased fresh too. They are packed full of fibre, healthy fruit sugars and vitamins & minerals like Copper, Magnesium, Potassium, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K.

They are known to promote digestive health, manage blood sugar levels and improve skin quality. They have an excellent shelf life when dried and are ideal for snacking as they aren’t messy and don’t require preparation.

Nutrition per 100g:

  • Energy – 249 Kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 63.87g
  • Protein – 3.3g
  • Fat – 0.93g
  • Fibre – 9.8g

DATES

Feel like a Sultan and get your Date on!

There’s a good reason why this fruit has been a staple of Eastern diets for centuries – most commonly available dried. Dates have long been held in high esteem and here’s a few good reasons why; they are packed with tons of dietary fibre and bags of essential minerals and vitamins like Vitamins A, C and K, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc (the list is actually a lot longer but lets focus on the main players).

During Ramadan, dates have long been used to break fasting as they are packed with Fructose and Dextrose, sugars that can instantly replenish energy stores and kick start metabolism. The dietary fibre can regulate cholesterol absorption and promote a healthy gut flora. Minerals like Potassium and Calcium can improve bone health while Iron can boost heart and blood health and quality.

Nutrition per 100g:

  • Energy – 277 Kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 74.97g
  • Protein – 1.81g
  • Fat – 0.15g
  • Fibre – 6.7g

KIWIS

Not just a flightless bird from New Zealand!

Many have enjoyed one of these fuzzy fruits at one point or another but once you realise what’s packed inside their fur suit, they take on a whole new flavour of their own. Originating in China, they spread across the planet recently.

Among their many nutrients, the three most prominent being Potassium, Fibre and Vitamin K. Potassium is fantastic for Heart Health, Anti-Oxidants like Vitamins C & E, Vision and Prevention of Eye Disease thanks for the phytochemical Lutein and Fibre that supports digestive health, negating the symptoms of bowel disease. Kiwi fruits even contain Serotonin that can improve sleep quality, boost memory and mood and even help with depression.

Nutrition per 100g:

  • Energy – 61 Kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 14.66g
  • Protein – 1.14g
  • Fat – 0.52g
  • Fibre – 3g

COCONUT

Can be enjoyed on AND off desert islands!

Not actually a nut, contrary to popular belief, coconuts are the giant seeds and fruit of the Palm Tree family. Many have enjoyed it’s refined derivatives like coconut milk, oil and flakes but the fresh flesh is where the party is at. Many fruits are typically high in sugars but coconuts are high in healthy fats, specifically MCT’s that are absorbed quickly in digestion and used for energy. These fats can even promote fat loss when eaten in lieu of saturated fats found in animal foods.

Coconuts are especially high in manganese, which is critical for bone health and metabolising carbohydrates, proteins, and cholesterol. Two other nutrients include copper and iron, which help form red blood cells, as well as selenium, an important antioxidant that protects your cells.

Heart health is boosted with the reduction of bad cholesterol (LDL type) while the fibre can promote gut health and even stabilize blood sugar by improving Insulin Resistance. It’s a versatile, meaty fruit that is available in flours, oils and even milks so adding it to any meal is easily done.

Nutrition per 100g:

  • Energy – 354 Kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 15.23g
  • Protein – 3.33g
  • Fat – 33.49g
  • Fibre – 9g

PLANTAIN

Ain’t thems Bananas?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking; they look like bananas. They’re not. Plantains are sort of what would be spawned if a potato got it on with a banana. Plantains have high starch content, meaning the flesh isn’t as soft as a banana’s. Disclaimer: don’t eat these raw, they really do need to be cooked first.

This fruit is high in fibre which is ideal for frequent sufferers of IBD and IBS, even going so far as managing bad Cholesterol; The Carbohydrates found in Plantain are mostly complex so it can regulate blood sugar levels, staving off hunger for longer between meals; Heart Health is boosted with the high potassium levels, much like it’s banana cousin; high levels of Vitamin C can help boost your immune system and a cup of Plantain contains a good amount of the RDA of this valuable Vitamin.

This fruit is easy to prepare as you simply peel it like a banana, cut the fruit up and then cook it by either grilling, roasting or boiling it. Very easy to cook with!

Nutrition per 100g:

  • Energy – 122 Kcal
  • Carbohydrates – 31.89g
  • Protein – 1.3g
  • Fat – 0.37g
  • Fibre – 2.3g

CONCLUSION

This list was no where near as exhaustive as it could and even should have been but my main goal was to ignite an interest in some of the less common fruits, ultimately leading to my fellow plant based pioneers expanding their fruit staples and enjoying a varied, rich, diet. The usual fruit staples like bananas and apples are fantastic and have their place in every day life but they can quickly become boring so it’s important to try new foods. I’d urge you to visit your local green grocer and try some fruits you haven’t before and find new ways to incorporate them into your cooking and baking. There’s a few that didn’t make the list but that doesn’t mean they’re any less delicious or nutrient dense. Please consider trying: Dragon Fruit, Papaya, Mango, Lychee, Pineapple, Jackfruit and Prickly Pear. I hope you found this article interesting and please leave any comments or suggestions below.

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Pukka
Plants

Qualified as a Personal Trainer and an Avid Food Nutrition Buff, all things fitness and health are my Jam.
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