7 Uncommon Fruits I Learned About While Rebuilding My Diet
Don't laugh: One of my biggest surprises on my journey to health was learning that ketchup is not a vegetable.
I honestly believed that I was partially fulfilling my daily requirement of vegetables based on my consumption of ketchup (which, by the way, is overloaded with sugar and salt). The rest of my vegetable intake was quite small: usually just collard greens and iceberg lettuce (which is basically just water).
The collards themselves were quite healthy—that is, until I slathered them in oil and salt. If I did occasionally eat other vegetables, I doused them in as much fat and salt as possible to make them taste like, well, fat and salt.
When I went plant-based, I took it upon myself to learn about the dozens of vegetables I had heard about but had never eaten. For one, I kept reading about kale. What the heck was that? A college somewhere in New England? I decided to try it. I didn't like it. Then I learned that if you cooked it right, which I hadn't done, kale could actually be delicious. It turns out that kale is genuine soul food, prepared in dozens of delicious ways by West African cooks.
I next discovered broccoli, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and other vegetables that I had never bothered to eat before. The dam broke. I was soon eating mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes, red cabbage, beans, peas, and more. I also found that healthy foods I used to dislike, such as onions, could taste excellent if prepared properly. Potatoes, too, could be a good source of nutrients, but only if you prepare them correctly—that is, without deep-frying them into French fries or baking them and serving them with sour cream and bacon.
I also used my new knowledge of spices to make these foods work rather than depending on loads of oil and salt. And I learned how to sauté foods in a healthy way, using a combination of lemon and vinegar that gave me the nice salty taste I love without turning them into a diabetes-inducing, artery-clogging nightmare.
The fruits I've introduced to my diet.
Just like with vegetables, I never gave fruit much of a chance. At best I was an apple-a-day guy. But it didn't keep the doctor away. Now every morning, along with my smoothie, I have a quarter of an apple, an orange, a peach, a nectarine, a quarter of a banana, a few cherries, strawberries, blueberries, and any in-season berries.
Learning about all kinds of wonderful nutritious fruits has been one of the best parts of my journey to good health. Here are some other fruits you might want to try:
Native to South America, this is also called a custard apple because that's what it tastes like. It's a great source of vitamins B and C and is chock-full of fiber. If you don't believe me, take it from Mark Twain, who called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to man."
OK, bad news first: Durian smells awful. Like really awful. The good news? It tastes nothing like its odor. Native to tropical regions, durian is known in Southeast Asia as the "king of fruits." If you don't mind the odor, you'll get a fruit that combines the taste of vanilla with bananas. It's rich in fiber and minerals like manganese, iron, and copper and is a great source of B vitamins as well.
3. Fuyu persimmon
Crisp and sweet, few fruits are as tasty as this kind of persimmon, which, unlike its relatives, is not astringent. You can eat the skin if you'd like, although many people don't. It's an excellent source of fiber as well as vitamins A, C, and B6, along with minerals like potassium and manganese.
A superb source of vitamin C and fiber, this citrus fruit is also rich in the powerful antioxidant beta-carotene. And it's got lots of calcium to keep your bones strong. Because it can taste slightly sour (unlike its skin, which is sweet), it makes an excellent marmalade.
5. Passion fruit
Native to South America, this fruit is, like so many others, loaded with fiber and vitamins C and A and is rich in antioxidants. It tastes like a mix of many other tropical fruits, such as pineapple, papaya, mango, citrus, and guava.
Most of the other fruits here come from exotic places in the world, but the pawpaw is native to North America. Oddly it tastes more like a tropical fruit than other American ones, something between a banana and a pineapple. Pawpaws are high in vitamin C as well as minerals like magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.
Native to Southeast Asia, this citrus fruit could be mistaken for a sweet version of a grapefruit. Surprisingly high in protein—one fruit contains 4.6 grams—it is also a superb source of vitamin C while offering healthy amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6.
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