Fruit is one of nature's perfect foods. Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber, without fat. Even though they are filling, most are naturally low in calories and delicious. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the American Cancer Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Cancer Institute recommend that 5 to 9 servings of fruits (and vegetables) be consumed every day, depending on a person's energy intake, to maintain good health and reduce the risk of cancer.
So go bite into an apple, a banana, or a...carambola fruit. Haven't heard of that one? Don't worry. As Americans are adopting healthier diets and becoming more adventurous, exotic fruits like the carambola are showing up in markets.
Here's a guide to five you should try.
Carambola (Star Fruit)
This is a fruit that's a winner in all categories. It tastes great and it's attractive, too. Nutritionally, it's low in calories and has 9 mg vitamin C in 1/4 cup, as well as beta-carotene and potassium. It can be substituted for fresh lemon and lime slices, or eaten fresh. Anyone with kidney disease or on dialysis should talk with his or her doctor before eating any amount of star fruit.
Even if you've never had a guava, you may be familiar with its taste. Guavas give a tropical flavor to many fruit drinks. Low in calories, high in vitamin C and potassium, they can be eaten plain. They're also widely used in jellies, jams, and sherbets.
The kiwi, like its namesake bird, is small and cute. It's high in pectin, a key fiber. Eat them plain, or carve them into a succulent garnish.
This is one of the best sources of beta-carotene. You'll also find lots of vitamin C, potassium, and some calcium, and a taste that many people say is addictive. Naturally low in calories, just cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and dig in.
So lush and tropical that they're almost decadent, mangoes are actually one of the healthiest foods you'll ever eat. They are high in vitamin A and potassium, and even have vitamin C. Each mango gives you about a tenth of your daily fiber requirement. Peel and eat, but not while you're wearing a suit; mangoes are messy.