These somewhat unfamiliar tropical fruits like mangoes, guavas, pomegranates and papayas are offering a range of health benefits like the familiar ones plus some extra. |
Besides their high fiber content, they also contain a variety of powerful compounds to fight heart disease and even cancer. There are dozens more tropical fruits grown world wide, but these are the ones you most likely find in your supermarket or grocery store.
Mango Magic This juicy fruit which tastes like a peach and pineapple mixed together, but sweeter, contain large amounts of vitamin C and also beta-carotene, which are antioxidants. As you may remember from my earlier articles, antioxidants protect you against the harmful effect of free radicals. These fellows can damage our bodies LDL cholesterol, causing it to stick to the lining of our artery walls and increase the risk of heart disease.
One mango contains nearly 5 mgr of beta-carotene, which is 50-83% of the recommended 6-10 mgr , and 57mgr vitamin C or 95% of the Daily Value. It’s a very healthful mix.
In an Australian study, people were given juice containing beta-carotene and vitamin C everyday for 3 weeks. Researchers found that the LDL cholesterol of the people who took the juice experienced less damage than before they started drinking the juice.
Besides antioxidants, mangoes also have a high content of fiber. One mango contains almost 6 gram of fiber and it’s the soluble kind of fiber, which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.
The insoluble fiber in mangoes is also important because it causes stool – and any harmful substances they contain – to move more quickly through the body. This means that when you eat more mangoes, you reduce the risk of colon cancer.
The healing power of papayas Looking at the outside, papayas look like yellow or orange avocados. On the inside you’ll find beautiful yellow-orange flesh that hints at the healing power within. Papayas are loaded with carotenoids, which are natural plant pigments that give many fruits and vegetables their beautiful hues. But carotenoids do much more than color up your plate. They can literally save your life.The carotenoids in papayas are strong antioxidants. Studies have proved that people who eat the most carotenoids rich foods, like papayas, greatly lower their risk of dying from heart disease or cancer. Many fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids, but papayas are way ahead of them all. In a German study, researchers rated 39 foods according to their carotenoid content. Papayas came out on top, with half a fruit providing almost 3.8 milligrams of carotenoids By contrast, grapefruits, which came in second, have 3.6 milligram,and apricots have 2.6 milligram of carotenoids.
Papayas also contain a number of protease enzymes, such as papain, which are very similar to enzymes produced naturally in the stomach. Eating papaya during or after a meal makes it easier for the body to digest proteins, which can help ease an upset stomach. Papaya may play a roll in preventing ulcers as well.
In another study, Russian researchers have found that papaya extracts speed up wound healing. They speculate that papaya’s antioxidant action may protect tissue from ongoing damage during the healing process.
Guavas for cancer protection Guavas are not always easy to find in supermarkets, but these pink or yellow colored fruits, often available in gourmet, Hispanie, or Indian markets, are definitely worth the search. Guavas specialty is the content of a carotenoid called lycopene. Lycopene has been on the backseat for a long time, but studies now suggest that lycopene may be even more powerful than its more famous kin beta-carotene. In fact, lycopene is one of the strongest antioxidants, says Paul Lachance. PhD, professor of nutrition and executive director of the Nutraceuticals Instute at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey
Israeli scientists found in laboratory studies , that lycopene was able to quickly block the growth of lung- and breast cancer cells. And in a large study of almost 48,000 men, Harvard researchers found that men who had the most lycopene in their diets had a 45% lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those getting the least. Tomatoes have long be considered as having one of the highest lycopene content, and studies on this subject often give conflicting results, but guavas are a far better source, which at least 50% more lycopene in a single fruit.
Pomegranates Pomegranates originally came from tropical Asia and have been grown for thousands of years throughout the Mediterranean countries and in the Middle East. They are popular at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Fresh pomegranates have a leather like exterior. Inside are hundreds of magenta “arils” – sacks full of distinctive sweet earthy juice from this fruit. Bottles of juice are available all year round.
Pomegranates are rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants which may help to protect against artherosclerosis. Israeli researchers in Ramban Medical Center in Haifa tested compounds from pomegranates in lab studies, and found that theses flavonoids protected particles of bad LDL cholesterol against oxidation, which is the first step in the development of plague that builds up in the artery walls.
What’s more, a daily glass of pomegranate juice slowed down the rise of PSA level (prostate-specific antigens) an indication of prostate cancer risk, to one-quarter their usual rate . This was the result of a 3 year study at the University of California of 50 men who had surgery or radiation for prostate cancer. When prostate cancer is present, PSA levels normally double every 15 months; for men who drank the juice it took 54 months. Researchers had also seen a slowdown in PSA doubling rate for men with early stage prostate cancer who decided to “wait and see” , rather than having surgery, radiation or hormone therapy treatment. Antioxidants in the juice may protect healthy cells while isoflavones may trigger the death of healthy cells, according to experts.
Some advice to get the most out of tropical fruits
Add a little fat When guavas are eaten with a little fat, the lycopene in guavas is absorbed more efficiently. Adding some yogurt with slices of guava will help you to get the most lycopene.
Don’t use heat Tropical fruits are often used as ingredients in recipes such as sauces for meat dishes. Unfortunately the heat used in cooking destroys some of the vitamin C in guavas, says Donald Schlimme, PhD, professor emeritus of nutrition and food science at the University of Mayland. He recommend to eat tropical fruits raw to get the most vitamins from them.
Store them carefully When tropical fruits are exposed to air and sunlight, they will quickly give up their vitamin C content. By keeping the fruits in a cool and dark place, they will keep fresh and preserve their vital nutrients.
Points to watch when shopping for tropical fruits Notice the smell Tropical fruits should smell sweet and fragrant, even before they are cut. If the smell is weak, the taste will be disappointing too.
Keep them cool, not cold When tropical fruits need some time to ripen, it’s best to store them in a cool, dry place. Don’t put them in the refrigerator, as the cold will kill the flavor.
Find the right combination Fruit salad is okay, but don’t combine papaya or pineapple with gelatin. The enzymes in the raw fruit will break down the protein in the gelatin and keep it from setting.
Avoid pomegranate stains Slice off the crown of the fruit and cut the fruit into sections. Put the sections into a bowl of water. Roll the juice-filled arils out of the submerged sections with your fingers. Discard the fibers and skin, drain off the water, and enjoy this ancient treat!
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fiber content, compounds, vitamin C, beta-carotene, LDL cholesterol, carotenoids, lycopene, antioxidants, cancer protection,