Travelling can be so much fun, especially when you know a little about your destination in advance. And this applies to local foods as well. So we at You & I figured it was time to share the sweet stuff on seven exotic fruits that are available in different parts of the world. Most of these fruits are not only nutritious and loaded with health benefits, but they’ll also add some zing to your palate!
The dragon fruit is prominently found in Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mexico and South America. Strawberry pear, or pitaya, as it’s locally known, is a night flowering vine that resembles a cactus. The fruit is sweet and juicy, making it a popular choice. The most common dragon fruit is the red pitaya, but other varieties include the Costa Rica pitaya and the yellow pataya. You can drink the juice from this fruit, or use it to make delicious homemade wine. Dragon fruits are commonly used in preserves and spreads, in salads, sorbets and even fruit pizza.
Dragon fruit can help lower blood glucose levels, fight harmful free radicals, stimulate the metabolism due to its protein content, and help in tissue development. So if you happen to spot this fruit, be sure to give it a try!
Lychees are found in China, India, and Taiwan, and belong to the soapberry family. The lychee, or litchi, are small white fleshy fruits, covered in a red rind. They’re rich in vitamin C and have a grape-like texture. The fruit is now easily available in markets worldwide, either fresh or canned.
Lychees can help prevent blood clots and cell damage, and reduce the likelihood of strokes for patients suffering from heart diseases. This fruit is also considered a good source of carbohydrates and fibre.
Mangosteen is found in Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Thailand and elsewhere. This fruit is purple, creamy, and may be described as a citrus fruit that tastes a bit like peach. It is rich in antioxidants, and for this reason it is believed the fruit can lower one’s risk of cancer. There are grand legends about Queen Victoria offering rewards to anyone who would bring her this fruit.
Mangosteen may be helpful in fighting bacterial diseases, reducing blood pressure, easing migraines and supporting vascular health.
Passion fruits are found in South America, India, New Zealand and Brazil. This fruit has a soft, juicy interior that is full of seeds, and can be used to make juice to boost the flavour quotient. There are two types of passion fruit: the golden one (maracuyá), which is similar to a grapefruit, and the dark purple passion fruit (gulupa), which is about the size of a lemon. But be careful of those dark purple passion fruits; they can be harmful or even toxic.
Passion fruits have phenolic acids and flavonoids which are supposed to have a heart-protecting function and are known for their anti-microbial activities. This fruit is also rich in vitamins C and A, and potassium.
These fruits are commonly found in the Malay Archipelago and Southeast Asia. The rambutan resembles lychees, with a red, leathery skin that is covered with spines. The rambutan is a popular garden fruit tree, and one of the most famous in Southeast Asia. They’re sweet and juicy, and commonly available in jams or may also be sold in cans.
Some benefits of the rambutan include helping with weight loss, reducing fever and the effects of diabetes, and can also be used for hair and skin care.
Rose apples are common throughout South Asia. It is also known as champoo, and is considered one of the most exotic fruits on this planet since it smells and tastes a lot like roses. These bell-shaped fruits are crisp, crunchy and have a deliciously fresh flavour. Rose apples are frequently boiled in water to make rose water.
Rose apple fruits can help with diabetes, piles, diarrhoea, and sterility in females, and can combat dysentery and liver problems.
This fruit is found in Malaysia and Indonesia. It is called salak or snake fruit because of its brown, scaly skin which resembles a serpent. It grows in clusters at the bottom of a palm tree and it looks almost like a fig. Salak tastes sweet and acidic at the same time, and its consistency varies from dry and crumbly, to moist and crunchy.
Snake fruit helps treat constipation, heartburns and haemorrhoids.
So next time you are travelling to some exotic destination (or out at your local produce market), make sure you keep an eye out for these exotic, bizarre fruits. They’re a sweet treat, and loaded with health benefits as well!