For most of us, there’s nothing more tempting than a basket (or blended bev!) chock-full of tasty, sweet tropical fruits. But then there’s the age-old struggle: Is it healthier to reach for an apple or berry instead of a papaya or mango? In an attempt to justify our love of sweet, tropical fruits, we went to the experts — and discovered some of their surprising, hidden health benefits. As it turns out, pineapple is good for something other than mixing into rum drinks!
We love a dirty banana as much as you do — but did you know bananas are also an excellent source of potassium? Potassium is essential because it helps keep blood pressure within a healthy range and can prevent stroke and heart disease. It’s also a perfectly portable way to get of vitamins, says Allison Stowell, RD, a dietitian at Guiding Stars, a program that helps consumers make nutritious food choices.
While coconut water is touted for its electrolytes (containing twice that of a sports drink), coconut milk contains abundant amounts of magnesium and potassium as well as vitamins C, E and a variety of B vitamins.
High in fiber, potassium, copper and manganese, guava — the tropical fruit known for its green skin and white or pink insides — is also high in vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.
Think ‘K’ for kiwi as this little green fruit is an excellent source of this important vitamin that aids with blood clotting and building strong bones, Stowell says. “Bananas get all the love when it comes to potassium, but a serving of kiwi has more potassium than a banana,” she says. This fruit is also a great source of fiber.
Rich in vitamin A, mangoes also contain an antioxidant called zeaxanthin and both nutrients have been shown to improve eye health and help prevent macular degeneration. “Mangoes are also a great source of beta-carotene, another antioxidant, which has been linked to preventing asthma and keeping skin glowing and healthy,” says Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, a registered dietitian and founder of BZNutrition, a nutrition counseling practice in New York City.
This fruit is a good source of choline, an important nutrient that aids our bodies in everything from sleep and muscle movement to memory and improved cognition. “It also fights off inflammation within the body that can lead to chronic illnesses,” Zeitlin says.
Rich in many vitamins and minerals, pineapples are loaded in vitamin B6, magnesium, fiber and vitamin C. “Vitamin C helps to boost immunity, keeping your immune system strong and healthy to fight against everything from the common cold to chronic diseases,” Zeitlin says. “Vitamin C also helps fight off wrinkles because it produces collagen, which keeps your skin plump and young looking.”
Made mostly of water, this favorite low-cal summer fruit contains several vitamins, including vitamin A and C (a 10-ounce piece offers one-third of the recommended daily value of these vitamins) as well as potassium and lycopene, a key antioxidant for our overall health.