Exotic Fruit & Veg 2005-02-22Posted by clype in Health, Statistics.
With so much home-grown fruit and veg currently out of season, shoppers are turning to the more exotic varieties the supermarkets now stock. But are they good for you?
Mangoes have been cultivated in India since 2000BC, and are now one of the UK’s favourite fruits; the supermarket chain, Waitrose, now sells more mangoes than melons. High in zinc, mangoes also contain potassium, calcium and iron, as well as plenty of Vitamin-A and good amounts of Vitamins-B and -C, all of which are essential for a healthy, balanced diet
Originally from Persia, they are about the size of an apple, with leathery, rosy skin.
‘Pomegranates offer phenomenal health benefits’, says Mr.Gordon Fairbrother, central buyer of fruit for Waitrose.
‘When juiced, they have higher levels of antioxidants than green tea and red wine, as well as plenty of Vitamin-C and fibre’.
From Brazil, but now grown throughout tropical regions, including Africa and Australia. They look leathery, wrinkled and unprepossessing when ripe. The seeds, when scooped out and eaten, contain reasonable amounts of protein as well as Vitamin-C.
An exotic version of the melon, they contain carotene — an antioxidant which mops up free radicals which cause damage to body tissues – as well as Vitamins-B and -C. Also contains papain, an enzyme which helps to digest proteins (papaya has long been used as a meat-tenderiser in tropical countries). Grown in Mexico, Brazil and south-east Asia.
Or carambola. Bright yellow, waxy fruit with five sharp ribs. They do not need to be peeled. They are best sliced across their width, which yields star-shaped slices, then eaten as they are. High in Vitamin-A and Vitamin-C but mainly used for decoration in fruit salads as they don’t taste of much. Cultivated in Malaysia, Brazil and tropical Africa.
The lychee, with its white pulp set around a large single stone in a thin shell, is sweeter than its hairier-looking relation, the rambutan. Originally from China, they contain iron and copper as well as Vitamin-C.
Gram for gram, guava contains four times the Vitamin-C of an orange.
‘They juice well but they are difficult to ripen evenly’, says Mr.Fairbrother.
They come from South America. Once ripe they have to be eaten very quickly, so people often find them difficult to deal with.
Also known as the Cape gooseberry or Chinese Lantern, this Peruvian fruit is the size of a cherry and has a rough, papery husk around the small, yellow-orange fruit. The skin is waxy but edible and the fruit is a good source of Vitamin-C.
‘They tend to be used for decoration’, says Mr.Fairbrother,
‘But if you can get past the fact that they look strange, they taste good’.
The most common types of sweet potatoes, which come from the West Indies, have flesh which is yellow, starchy and almost fluffy. High in fibre (if eaten with skins), Vitamin-B6 and potassium, they are a good source of Vitamins-A and -C.
Often confused with sweet potatoes because of their shape, they contain more natural sugar than sweet potatoes and have a higher moisture content. A good source of fibre, they also contain Vitamin-C, manganese and potassium.
Also known as Chinese cabbage, pak choi, above, is high in minerals such as calcium, potassium, manganese and magnesium, and a rich source of Vitamin-A, Vitamin-B6 and folic acid.
Known as ‘potatoes of the air’ or ‘cooking bananas’, these have thicker skins than bananas — to which they are related – and are usually eaten cooked. A good source of fibre, as well as potassium, they are cultivated in South America, Africa, India and Asia.
Originally from Africa, okra spread across Asia to India. The green vegetables, known as ‘ladies fingers’ because of their slender, tapered shape, contain masses of nutrients, including niacin, riboflavin, iron, zinc and copper, together with a good dose of dietary fibre, Vitamins-A, -B6, -C, -K and folate.
Shop-bought sprouts tend to be thick, chunky Mung beans. High in protein and minerals as well as Vitamin-C. Grown in South America, Africa, India and Asia.
These Asian mushrooms are high in Vitamin-D, pantothenic acid, copper and selenium. Surprisingly high in protein.
Originally from Central America. If you can take the heat, chillis are good because they help boost the immune system. Research shows that people who eat peppers have lower levels of ‘Homocysteine’ — an ‘amino acid’ linked to health problems including ‘heart disease’.