What is that odd looking thing and why should I eat it?

When I arrived in Thailand, I was in awe at the variety of odd fruits in all shapes and sizes that were somewhat intimidating. Given my nature to be weary of eating the unfamiliar, it took me a while to slowly venture to experiment with these unknown fruits. Much to my surprise, I finally opened myself up to a fresh and exciting new palette. Little did I realize at the time that these fruits had some remarkable health benefits.

Here’s a list of five of the most exotic fruits in Thailand and some unexpected health benefits.

1. Rambutan?


 

Rambutan, with its hairy-like spikes and its thick outer shell can be thrown together and will stick like velcro. Coming from an evergreen tree, this tropical fruit contains a sweet, juicy, white translucent flesh with a seed in the center. It has a sweet, mildly acidic flavor somewhat similar to grapes and a strong aroma.

Rambutan fruit is used to cure diarrhea and its leaves are used for headaches. The roots of rambutan trees are boiled and used as a medication to cure fever. The fruit is rich in many nutrients including calcium, iron, protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber.  Rambutan is effective in lowering blood pressure and consumption of five fruits per day can decrease the chance of cancer.


2. Dragon Fruit


 

Dragon fruit, also called strawberry pear or pitaya, is a fruit of several cactus species with a sweet delicate taste and creamy pulp. This fruit is similar in flavor to a cross between kiwi and melon. Juice or wine is extracted from the fruit, while the flowers are used for tea.

Some health benefits of the dragon fruit include helping to prevent memory loss and control of blood glucose levels in diabetes. The dragon fruit is also full of vitamins, including vitamin C as well as anti-oxidants that can be linked to help prevent cancer.


3. Mangosteen (also known as the “queen” of fruit)


 
 

The mangosteen, with its thick violet outer shell has a surprisingly soft and juicy inner flesh with a taste that is both tangy and sweet. Beware – as this juicy fruit will permanently stain clothes.

Mangosteen is used as a herbal remedy in curing several ailments. Thai people make use of the antimicrobial properties of the mangosteen fruit to treat tuberculosis, infected wounds, malaria, gonorrhea and syphilis. The fruit is known to have strong anti-inflammatory properties, and therefore is widely used in treating skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.
 

4. Rose Apple ("chomphu" in Thai)


 
 

This Thai fruit has a bright red outside and white inside. It has a pear-like shape and tastes similar to a pear, although with a slightly milder flavor.

The rose apple fruit is commonly used as a diuretic, while the seeds are used as a cure for diarrhea. In Thailand, preparations of the flowers are used to help fevers. In Cuba, the rose apple root is used to remedy epilepsy, and in Nicaragua, infusions of roasted and powdered seeds are used to treat diabetics.


5. Jackfruit


 
 

The jackfruit tends to be a large fruit with green/yellow prickles and a rough outside shell. When peeled it comes in individual pieces with a flower-like aroma. The jackfruit tastes like a cross between a pineapple and a banana. Although typically sweet, it is an acquired taste.

The jackfruit is known for its high level of potassium and is used to help lower blood pressure. The high fiber content helps to prevent constipation. Its extracts are used by natives to cure fever and diarrhea, while also benefiting asthma patients, and its roots are helpful for those with skin problems such as acne. In addition, this fruit contains a high amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
 

The peculiar fruits of Thailand can add color and flavor to any visit. Eat Thai fruit with heart and gusto.

Donna Salle is a freelance travel writer and can be reached at TravelsWithHeart@gmail.com or follow her on twitter @TravelsWithHeart.

 

Source = Donna Salle
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