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10 Delicious, Nutritious Fruits You've Likely Never Heard of That Are Growing in Popularity

Move over apples and bananas, exotic fruits are pushing their way into supermarket aisles across the country -- and with good reason.

With surprising flavors, excellent nutrition and a flair for the dramatic, these fruits can add a little pizzazz to your daily food choices while giving you nutrients your body needs and flavors you didn't know you craved!

1. Baby Kiwi

Origins: Kiwis are native to China, but today New Zealand supplies 99 percent of the world's kiwi supply. They are also grown in the United States, South Africa and Europe.

Description: These berries are like grape-sized kiwis, but without all the fuzz. They can be eaten right out of your hand, or added to fruit salads and appetizers.

Lore: Kiwis were introduced to New Zealand in 1906, when they were still called "Chinese gooseberries." In 1962, the fruit was renamed to honor New Zealand's national bird, the kiwi.

Key Nutrition Value: Baby kiwis are rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, vitamin E and magnesium.

2. Cactus Pear (Prickly Pear)

Origins: Cactus pears are popular in Mexico, the American Southwest, the Mediterranean, South Africa and Israel. Native Americans once considered the fruit a delicacy.

Description: With an intense flavor similar to watermelon and ripe berries, cactus pears can be peeled and eaten raw, or pureed for sauces, desserts and drinks. Their syrup can be used for jelly, jam and candy. Cactus pears have a firm, meaty texture with small, crunchy (edible) seeds.

Lore: Israel natives earned the nickname "sabras" because they supposedly resemble a cactus pear -- rough on the outside, but sweet on the inside.

Key Nutrition Value: Along with being high in vitamin C, magnesium and fiber, a recent study found that cactus pear extracts contain antioxidants that can improve oxidative stress. Another study in the Nutrition Journal found that cactus pear extracts may help to prevent cancer.

3. Cherimoya

Origins: The cherimoya was originally grown by Inca farmers in Ecuador and Peru. Today it is grown in Chile, Argentina, Spain, California and New Zealand.

Description: Sometimes called the custard fruit or custard apple, the cherimoya has a creamy flesh that tastes like a blend of banana, passion fruit, papaya and pineapple. It's best eaten straight, by cutting the fruit into wedges and spooning out the flesh (discard the black, inedible seeds). They can also be added to fruit salads and pureed as a mousse or pie filling.

Lore: Mark Twain is said to have called the cherimoya "deliciousness itself."

Key Nutrition Value: Cherimoya is a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and vitamin C.

4. Kiwano Melon (Horned Melon)

Origins: The kiwano melon is native to southern and central Africa. It is also grown in New Zealand and California.

Description: This melon has a jelly-like flesh with a sweet/tart flavor that's a mix of bananas, lime and cucumber. It's eaten by cutting the melon in half and scooping out the flesh to eat raw or add to desserts or salads. The empty melon half can be used as a unique serving dish, but shouldn't be eaten.

Lore: The kiwano melon has been grown for over 3,000 years.

Key Nutrition Value: Kiwano melon contains vitamins A and C and fiber.

5. Kumquat

Origins: Native to China, the kumquat is also grown in Japan and the United States.

Description: Kumquats look like olive-sized oranges and have a tart citrus flavor. They can be eaten raw (whole), but they are commonly cooked and used in jellies, syrups, stuffing, cakes and muffins.

Lore: "Kumquat" comes from the Cantonese words kin kü, which means "golden orange."

Key Nutrition Value: Kumquats are an excellent source of vitamins A and C.

6. White Sapote

Origins: The sapote is native to Central America, but is grown in Mexico, Florida and Southern California.

Description: Resembling an apple in size and shape, sapotes have a custard-like flesh that tastes like a blend of banana, peach, lemon and coconut. They can be eaten whole, like a plum, or the flesh can be scooped out with a spoon (the skin has a more bitter flavor).

Lore: The sapote's skin can range in color from green to bright yellow. There is also a black sapote, but it isn't widely available in the United States.

Key Nutrition Value: Sapotes are a good source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

7. Tamarillo (Tree Tomato)

Origins: Tamarillos are native to South America, but are grown in California, New Zealand, Central America, the Caribbean, Asia and Australlia.

Description: Tamarillos have a tangy, tart flavor. They must be peeled before being consumed, which can be done easily by blanching them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes to loosen the skin (if ripe, the skin should come off by peeling without blanching). They can be eaten raw, added to fruit and vegetable salads, or cooked into jams, chutneys and relishes.

Lore: Tamarillos are related to tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants.

Key Nutrition Value: Tamarillos are a good source of fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C.

8. Feijoa

Origins: Native to South America, feijoas are also grown in New Zealand and California.

Description: Sometimes called the pineapple guava, feijoas have a gritty pear-like texture with a jelly center that tastes like a combination of pineapple, guava, lemon and strawberry. They are most commonly eaten raw, and the skin can be removed first, as it has a more bitter flavor. (Simply cut in half and spoon out the flesh.) Feijoas can also be used in pies, sherbets and smoothies.

Lore: Because of their gritty texture, feijoas are used in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant.

Key Nutrition Value: Feijoas are a good source of fiber and vitamin C.

9. Lychee

Origins: Lychees are native to southern China but are also grown in Asia, India, Japan, Florida, Hawaii and Australlia.

Description: Lychees have a sweet, grape-like flesh with a flowery fragrance. They can be eaten raw (peeled), but their brown seed should be discarded. They can also be poached and are sold canned and dried in Asian grocery stores.

Lore: Lychees have been praised in Chinese literature since 1059 A.D.

Key Nutrition Value: Lychees are an excellent source of vitamin C -- just 10 lychees supply over 100 percent of the daily value.

10. Passion Fruit

Origins: Native to Brazil, passion fruits are also grown in Hawaii, Florida, California and New Zealand.

Description: Passion fruits have a jelly-like flesh with soft, edible seeds and a sweet/tart flavor. It is typically eaten raw, by cutting the fruit in half and scooping out the flesh with a spoon, but it can also be used in sauces, beverages and fillings.

Lore: Passion fruit is also called a purple "granadilla," which means "little pomegranate." The name "passion fruit" comes from the bloom of the passion fruit flower, which symbolizes parts of the Passion of Christ including the crown of thorns and the nails of the crucifixion.

Key Nutrition Value: Passion fruits are a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin C.

Recommended Reading

The 15 Healthiest Berries You Could Possibly Eat ... Including 7 Most Haven't Heard Of

Nutritional Deficiency: Symptoms & Recommendations for 24 Common Nutritional Deficiencies


Nutrition Journal

Cactus Pear Fruit Improve Oxidative Stress

CDC: Exotic Winter Fruit

Melissa's Produce

Whole Health MD Food Index

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