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Apples, bananas, blueberries, and pineapples are among the many staple fruits we grew up eating. But it might be time to expand our culinary boundaries and try some of these exotic fruits from Asia, especially since they are chock-full of nutrition.
Deemed as the “king of fruits,” the durian hails from Southeast Asian nations, but is native to Brunei Indonesia, Malaysia, and possibly the Philippines, though disputes continue regarding the matter. Durian is a large fruit, usually up to a foot long and 6 inches wide, with a thick exterior covered in spikes, and a range of pale yellow to red flesh.
This exotic and controversial fruit has an unusual combination of sweet, savory, and creamy flavors all at once. It is widely celebrated for its extensive list of health benefits, including the ability to boost your immune system, reduce signs of anemia, remedy insomnia, stop premature aging, strengthen bones, improve digestion, lower blood pressure, protect against cardiovascular diseases, and prevent cancer.
Durian can also help manage diabetes, reduce inflammation of the joints, promote thyroid health, cure headaches, and lessen symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety.
The rambutan fruit, also called Nephelium lappaceum, is an exotic fruit native to Southeast Asia. The fruit bears similarities to lychees with its thin, leather-like skin and multiple structures sticking out, almost like a sea urchin.
The rambutan is often referred to as a “super fruit” because of its tremendous health benefits. The fruit is rich in antioxidants that combat free radicals responsible for many diseases, including cancer, inflammation, and heart disease.
This native plant in India is a nutrition powerhouse. Jackfruit is loaded with antioxidants, B-vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium. It also has a high percentage of carotenoids because of the vibrant yellow color of its pods. Further, jackfruit is a great source of flavonoids which, along with carotenoids, protect the body from cardiovascular disease, chronic degenerative diseases, and even cancer.
More recently, jackfruit has become a favorite ingredient in many vegan dishes. It unripe pods are an excellent substitute for meat in terms of texture.
The Goji berry, otherwise known as the wolfberry, is a bright orange-red berry indigenous to China. This medicinal plant is thought to treat ailments in the eye, liver, and kidneys. This festive-looking berry has a sweet, tangy taste and is often dried like raisins. Goji berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber, iron, zinc, and antioxidants. These berries also comprise all eight essential amino acids.
Mangosteen, formerly belonging to the Sunda Islands in Indonesia, is referred to as the “queen of the tropical fruit” for its impressive health qualities.
Mangosteen gained widespread popularity after scientists discovered its anti-cancer properties. This lesser-known fruit can even boost the immune system, maintain healthy blood pressure, repair damaged cells, preserve oral health, support cardiovascular health, prevent acne, and promote weight loss. Moreover, mangosteen is an exceptional source of vitamin C, which alleviates inflammation and kills infectious bacteria.
Lansium parasiticum, also acknowledged as langsat or lanzones, is a tree species in the Mahogany family. The plant, bearing small edible fruits, originates from western Peninsular Malaysia. This white-fleshed fruit has a similar outer appearance to baby potatoes, but is twice as nutritious. Langsat contains many essential elements like vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, and dietary fiber in abundance. It is also a source of vitamin A, Thiamine, and riboflavin, which are vital for maintaining healthy eyes, skin, teeth, and body tissues.