Healthy Exotic Fruits You May Not Know

Getting a little bored with bananas, apples, and oranges? Your local markets prominently display plenty of the healthy fruits that you've known for years, but maybe if you look a little closer you'll find some interesting exotic fruits lurking on the shelves.

They're mostly exotic because they're not well known outside of their country or region. They may or may not be any better for you than those trusty blueberries you've got in the fridge right now, but they're fun to try and it's always good to expand your palate a little bit. Any reason to up your intake of healthy fruits is always a good idea.

So, are you an early adapter in the kitchen? You could be the first person on your block to nibble on these delicacies. The next thing you know they'll be everywhere.

1

Cucamelons

cucamelon
Pixabay

Cucamelons look like teeny tiny watermelons and are native to Mexico and Central America. They're also called watermelon gherkin cucumbers, mouse melons, or Mexican sour gherkins.

Cucamelons are crisp and succulent and taste like a combination of cucumbers and limes.

They make a terrific low-calorie addition to salads or fresh salsa and make a healthy snack. Look for cucamelons in the summer and fall months—or better yet, grow your own.

2

Sugar Apple

Cinnamon apple, buddha head fruit, Taidong, Taitung, Republic of China, Taiwan, Asia
Ivan / Getty Images

Sugar apple is commonly grown on trees in the tropical parts of South America, southern Mexico, and the Carribean. It's also cultivated in South Florida, so you can find it in some grocery stores where it might also be called sweetsop or annona.

Sugar apple is a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.

Sugar apple is usually eaten raw (but you have to spit out the seeds). Or separate the seeds from the delicious flesh and blend it with milk and ice cubes in a high-speed blender. Look for sugar apples during mid-summer through fall.

3

Kiwano

kiwano on a wooden cutting board

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Kiwano, also known as jelly melon or horned melon, originated near the Kalahari desert in Africa. Today it's grown in New Zealand and California. The flesh tastes like a combination of cucumbers, bananas, kiwi, and lime. 

Kiwanos are loaded with vitamin C. They're also a good source of potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, and iron. 

Kiwanos are fully ripened when the exterior is bright orange. The fruit contains a lot of seeds, which are OK to eat, but you can remove them if you prefer. Eat the flesh as a snack or add it smoothies, fruit salads, or salsas.

4

Durian

Durian

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Durian is a rather distinctive fruit (emphasis on the "stink" part) because it has an unusual odor. Durian fruits originated in Southeast Asia where it is known as the king of fruits.

Durians are high in B-complex vitamins, fiber, potassium, and healthy fats. Originating in Southeast Asia, this fruit is known as the king of fruits.

Look for durian fruits in the summer, and in some cases, during the "minor season" which runs December through February. Eat the raw segments as a snack or as part of a meal.

5

Mangosteen

Fresh mangosteens
Laurence Mouton / Getty Images

Mangosteen, sometimes called xango, grows on trees in tropical parts of Southeast Asia. It's fairly high in calcium, magnesium, and fiber.

Mangosteen segments are quite sweet on their own and can be eaten raw as a simple dessert or snack.

You might be lucky enough to find fresh mangosteen, but it's more commonly found in the canned fruits and vegetable section of the grocery store.

6

Star Fruit

Star fruit

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Star fruit originated in Southeast Asia, and it may also be called carambola, belimbing, or madun.

Start fruit has a sweet, yet sour, flavor and is high in vitamin C and fiber, plus it's low in calories. Usually, this fruit is available year-round.

Choose fruits that are yellow in color, or let green star fruits ripen a bit at home. Sliced star fruits can be added to salads, eaten by hand, or added to smoothies.

7

Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

A dragon fruit is a rather impressive thing to look at with its spiny pink exterior and seeded white flesh. Dragon fruit is native to Central America, South America, and Mexico. It has a mild flavor, so it's perfect for picky eaters.

Dragon fruit is high in vitamin C and B vitamins, plus it's low in calories.

Dragon fruit is available June through September, and some varieties can be found during the winter months. Eat the flesh plain or add it to fruit salads and smoothies.

8

Lychee

Lychee
MelindaChan / Getty Images

Lychee fruits originated in South China and Vietnam. They're high in vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, and potassium. One cup of fresh lychee has about 125 calories.

Peel away the dark red skin to expose the white flesh, which can be eaten raw, added to fruit salads or salsas. 

Fresh lychees may be available in the spring and summer, but canned lychees are available year-round.

Keep in mind the canned fruits often contain extra calories and sugars from the added syrup.

9

Pummelo

Pomelo

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

The pummelo is the largest member of the citrus fruit family and tastes like a grapefruit, but slightly sweeter. Pummelos originated on trees in Southeast Asia and Malaysia.

They're high in potassium, folate, and vitamin C, and not too high in calories. One cup of pummelo sections has only 72 calories.

Use pummelo sections in recipes that call for fresh grapefruit or eat it out of hand for a delicious snack. Look for fresh pummelo in grocery stores during the winter months, or year-round in California.

10

Calamansi

Calamondin or Calamansi on white background
Chris Dela Cruz / Getty Images

Calamansi, or calamondin, is a cross between and citrus fruit and a kumquat. It's grown primarily in the Philippines.

Calamansi is a good source of potassium and vitamin C.

It's a little hard to find, but you can buy calamansi puree or calamansi juice. The puree may also be a good source of dietary fiber.

11

Jackfruit

Jackfruit on table
KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Jackfruit is a large fruit that's grown in tropical regions throughout the world. And by large, one jackfruit may weigh up to 100 pounds. It's often used as a meat substitute when it's harvested in an immature stage of growth.

Ripe jackfruit tastes similar to mango or peach and is high in fiber, vitamin B-6, potassium, magnesium, and vitamin C.

It's not available in every store, but you may be able to find jackfruit in Asian and Caribbean food stores. You can also find packaged jackfruit meat substitutes at Whole Foods, Amazon, and other online retailers.

12

Camu Camu

Camu Camu Berries
Lew Robertson / Getty Images

Camu camu berries grow in the Amazon rainforest of South America. It's high in vitamin C and also contains lutein, beta-carotene, and several minerals. It's also high in antioxidants.

It's not easy to find fresh camu camu berries, but powdered camu camu can be added to smoothies, yogurt, or healthy juice beverages.

A Word From Verywell

Eating any type of fruit is good for a healthy diet. Regular domestic fruits such as apples, bananas, and blueberries are certainly good for you, but experimenting with exotic fruits can be a lot of fun and healthful, too.

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  8. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Pummelo, raw. Updated April 1, 2019.

  9. Workman K. Associated Press. Huge, tropical jackfruit catches on as a meat substitute. January 27, 2020.

  10. Ranasinghe RASN, Maduwanthi SDT, Marapana RAUJ. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Jackfruit ( Lam.): A Review. Int J Food Sci. 2019;2019:4327183. doi:10.1155/2019/4327183

  11. Moura P. NPR. Will Camu Camu Be The Next Amazonian 'It' Fruit?. July 15, 2014.

  12. Langley PC, Pergolizzi JV, Taylor R, Ridgway C. Antioxidant and associated capacities of Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia): a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2015;21(1):8-14. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0130

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