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Tropical Fruits: Variety Is the Spice of Nutrition

By Joy Stephenson-Laws January 29, 2024 Lifestyle

They say that “variety is the spice of life” since without it, we would probably find life to be a little dull and boring, to say the least. In my opinion, the same can be said of getting the nutrition we need from the foods we eat. Imagine if you had a diet that was indeed healthy but consisted of only one or two foods? How long would you stick to eating just brown rice, kale, and grilled chicken, for example, before you started to explore other – and probably less healthy and nutritious – options? My guess is not long.

I love fruits. Fruits, along with veggies, are, in fact, the cornerstone of my diet. They are unprocessed and very rich in nutrients and are key to our overall health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, some diets do not place enough emphasis on how important natural, nutrient-dense foods are. 

But I will admit that there are days when I look at my fruit bowl and think, “I just can’t eat another apple.” So, to avoid getting bored and reaching for some chocolate ice cream instead of a healthier alternative, I incorporate a variety of tropical fruits into my diet.

I am pleased to report that these fruits all enjoy a place of honor next to my apples, bananas, and oranges! In no specific order, the ones I suggest you try are:


Papaya is a smooth-skinned fruit that is usually orange and green in color. Originally from Central America and the southern region of Mexico, this sweet fruit is now grown in many tropical and subtropical countries around the world. Papaya is a nutritional powerhouse since it is full of antioxidants, vitamins (particularly A, C and E), potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

This fruit, which is in season in late summer and fall, has many health benefits, including possibly helping to manage blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, and lowering cholesterol. It also may help fight cancer, boost our immune system, soothe our tummy issues, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, reduce inflammation, better manage diabetes, and even be good for our eyes by possibly reducing our risk for macular degeneration and cataracts (the risk for which increases as we get older).

It’s not an accident that papaya is one of the healthiest fruits in the world!


While you may have never heard of this tropical fruit, none other than Mark Twain called it “the most delicious fruit known to man.” Also known as “the custard apple” due to the creamy texture of the flesh of the fruit, cherimoyas are native to southern Ecuador and northern Peru. The fruit resembles a cross between an artichoke and strawberry, but tastes like banana, papaya, and pineapple. Do not eat the seeds or skin, they are both toxic.

What is impressive about cherimoyas is that in addition to having no cholesterol or saturated fat, this fruit contains many important nutrients including phosphorus, magnesium, iron, manganese, potassium, folate, and vitamin C. Because of these nutrients, cherimoyas may help you better manage your blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, support your immune system, reduce inflammation, support eye health, and reduce cholesterol.


Guava, which originated in Central America, is a tropical fruit with light green or yellow skin, and a tasty inside that ranges in color from white or yellow to its infamous bright coral pink. If you’re wondering what guava tastes like, it’s been described as a mix of pear and strawberry – but nothing quite compares to trying this fruit for yourself. I personally am a big fan!

This fruit is a great source of a variety of nutrients, including vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, copper, manganese, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. Among its health benefits are helping to better manage diabetes, supporting heart and immune system health, and maintaining a healthy weight. Guava tea may help lower your cholesterol and the fruit’s leaves may help treat diarrhea as well as possibly reduce your risk for cancer.


Mangoes are one of the most widely consumed fruits worldwide. A common nickname for this stone fruit, native to South Asia, is “The King of Fruits.” In India, a basket of mangoes represents a gesture of friendship. Mangoes offer a variety of nutrients, including folate, vitamin A and vitamin C, phosphorus, protein, antioxidants, riboflavin, dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, manganese, and calcium.

Its many health benefits may include lowering blood pressure, strengthening our immune systems, protecting heart health, keeping us hydrated, and managing constipation and blood glucose levels. Mangoes may also help reduce our risk for macular degeneration.


Jackfruit is the largest tree borne fruit in the world. An individual jackfruit can grow up to 100 pounds! Another fun fact about jackfruit is it is the national fruit of Bangladesh. It is a tropical fruit that generally grows in South and Southeast Asia as well as the Caribbean. It is part of the plant family that includes figs, breadfruits, and mulberries.

With its prickly green exterior and pungent odor, jackfruit can be intimidating, but it’s an incredibly versatile, delicious, and nutritious fruit. Think of them like avocados, which are certainly not pretty on the outside either but are full with green, creamy goodness and beneficial fat. When jackfruit is ripe, it tastes like a delicious combination of mango and pineapple. Unlike cherimoyas, the seeds of the jackfruit are safe to roast and eat.

This admittedly intimidating looking fruit is a great source of calcium, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It also has antioxidants, fiber, vitamins A and C, and riboflavin. One one-cup serving of jackfruit also provides more than 3 grams of protein. Among its health benefits are possibly helping with blood sugar control, protecting heart health, and supporting the immune system.

All these tropical fruits are very versatile foods, so you can enjoy them alone, in fruit salads, in smoothies, and as ingredients in your favorite dishes (especially vegan recipes). The only limit is your culinary imagination, so enjoy experimenting!

Finally, it is always a good idea to consult with a qualified medical professional before you incorporate new foods in your diet – especially if you are taking medications.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Have you ever tried any tropical fruits? If so, what were they? Did you enjoy them and have you incorporated them into your healthy diet? If so, in what way? If not, can you share why? How easy are they to find where you live?

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Judith Louise

Tropical fruits – my freezer is jam packed. I live on a property south west of Sydney Australia. We have been self-sufficient for 50 years. We rejoice in the abundance of foods we can grow all year long. We grow for our consumption and for long term storage. Yummy passionfruit x 4 varieties. Blackberry, raspberry, marionberry, loganberry, boysenberry, gooseberry, cape gooseberry, 6 varieties of strawberry, kiwi fruit and kiwi berry. Paw Paw (Papayas), Mango, Longan and Custard apple. 5 varieties of guava. Bananas. Peaches, nectarines, plums, quince, olive, apples (8 varieties) Pears (6 varieties). We grow 4,000 edible fruits and berries, herbs and spices from all corners of the world. Using a Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Machine, we freeze Dry our food. It stores for up to 25yrs and retains 97% nutritional value. The storage ability has allowed us to fresh fruit and vegetables in seasons of poor production due to weather. During Covid, we were never short of food nor did we notice supermarket price rises. In 1969 we became aware of Global Warming. We have spent the past fifty years educating people about climate change. Teaching them how to easily grow nutritional food for daily needs…..the simple, non stressful way in a busy life.


Wondering what is evil about the guava. You said it has an infamous bright coral pink color. Why infamous?


Cherimoya seeds are poisonous if crushed open. Like other members of the family Annonaceae, the entire plant contains small amounts of neurotoxic acetogenins, such as annonacin, which appear to be linked to atypical parkinsonism in Guadeloupe. Moreover, an extract of the bark can induce paralysis if injected.

Randy Archambault

I can get papayas in several of my local stores, but they always were missing something in taste. When I was in Costa Rica I ate papayas every day for breakfast. They were wonderful. Perhaps they are picked unripe for their journey to the US.

Renee Lovitz

I love mangoes and papaya. Will now try some of the other fruits mentioned in the article! Thanks!!

The Author

Joy Stephenson-Laws is the founder of Proactive Health Labs (, a national non-profit health information company that provides education and tools needed to achieve optimal health. Her most recent book is Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy, available through Amazon, iTunes and bookstores.

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