Go Exotic With Your Fruit

by karen on October 17, 2019

Each time I visit my favorite grocery store, the exotic fruit is always very intriguing. However, I have no idea what to do with those colorful, spiny treats, so I end up opting for the ever-familiar bananas and berries. If you are also unfamiliar with these unusual fruits, let’s learn about them together. We’ll explore their native origin and nutritional properties, and then I’ve included a quick and easy lychee recipe! (If you have difficulty finding exotic fruits in your grocery store, try your local Asian market.)


Indigenous to India, jackfruit is one of the largest tree fruits in the world, and can grow to more than 80 pounds (now that’s a serving of fruit!). The sweet, buttery flesh is full of fiber, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatories, as well as antibacterial properties. The seeds are a good source of B vitamins like thiamine and riboflavin, which help to keep hair, skin, and nails healthy. Jackfruit’s texture makes it a popular meat alternative, but keep in mind that there is very little protein in jackfruit.


Originating from southeast Asia, the mangosteen fruit is one many of us in the western hemisphere have yet to try. The white flesh of mangosteen can be enjoyed raw, while the hard purple rind, and bitter seeds and bark have been used medicinally for centuries to fight infection and heal wounds. Mangosteen is packed with vitamin C.

Goji Berries

Goji is found throughout Asia and in parts of Europe. Antioxidants contained within can help reduce feelings of fatigue and stress, increase feelings of well-being, and bring about focus. Goji berries can be eaten raw, dried, or in juice form, and can be added to smoothies, cereal, and trail mix.

Dragon Fruit (Pitaya)

Native to Central America, dragon fruit is one of the most profitable crops in Vietnam and often makes superfood lists with its carotenoids and lycopenes good for vision and the immune system, as well as being high in fiber and vitamin C.


In southeast Asian countries like Thailand and the Philippines, durian is revered as “the king of the fruits”. It has a distinct, pungent odor that can be a bit off-putting (some say downright stinky), but the creamy inner flesh is rich in potassium, fiber, iron, and B vitamins.


Native to southern China, lychee is now grown around the world, including in the United States. Lychee is sweet and fragrant, with the usual host of nutrients found in fruit. According to one study, it may actually help trim belly fat due to a compound called oligonol. To eat, peel off the red and pink hard outer shell and enjoy the clear flesh that has a texture similar to grapes. Make up a bowl of lychee salad with the recipe enclosed.


A close relative of the lychee fruit and native to Malaysia and Indonesia, rambutan contains high levels of antioxidants including flavonoids and polyphenols that can protect against diseases such as cancer, and is also a source of iron, calcium and phosphorus. Like many of these other exotic fruits, the edible flesh is under the red outer layer covered in flexible thorns.


This ancient berry originated in South and Central America, and in countries such as Brazil and Belize, it’s been a food staple for native Amazon tribes for centuries. The “acai bowl” has garnered publicity for this exotic fruit, and does boast a hefty dose of vitamins and antioxidants. Research shows that berries, including acai, may help to keep the brain healthy and prevent mental decline.

There are dozens of other exotic fruits worth exploring, so be bold and pick up one or two on your next shopping trip. If you’re not sure what to do with it, ask your store’s produce manager or search your favorite social media site. Take advantage of the wealth of produce variety we have, and protect your health at the same time.

Lychee, Lime and Ginger Salad Serves 4 to 6

Nutrition Information per ½ cup: 70 calories, 17 gm carb, 1.5 g fiber, 1 gm protein, 0 gm fat


  • 2 pounds of lychees in the shell
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons diced, candied ginger (from about a one-half ounce chunk of candied ginger)


  1. Peel the lychees and place them in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Drizzle the lime juice over them, then add the diced ginger and toss until combined.
  3. Serve immediately, garnished with a thick curl of lime zest.

Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website atwww.NutritionConnectionNV.com

To find a nutrition expert in your area, go to the academy website – Find an Expert https://www.eatright.org/find-an-expert

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