If a trip to some warm tropical paradise is not in your plans this winter, fear not. Let your grocery store bring the tropics to you with their abundance of tropical fruits this month. Tropical fruits will help you meet your daily fruit intake while providing you with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and antioxidants.
Tropical fruits are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is the non-digestible part of plants and will give you a feeling of fullness. For those looking to lose some weight in the new year, high-fiber foods are a great choice. With high-fiber foods, one is less likely to overeat and will stay full for a longer period of time.
High-fiber foods may help in lowering the risk for diabetes and heart disease. But we would be remiss if we did not mention vitamin C. Tropical fruits are an excellent source of this immunity-boosting vitamin. Vitamin C helps maintain skin and bones as well.
Papaya: Papaya has a sweet, tart flavor and is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene and a good source of folate. Papaya meets 31 percent of the daily vitamin A needs. Papayas may protect the heart and may have anti-cancer properties. The enzyme papain, found in papayas, may improve digestion and help break down proteins. Papayas are easy to prepare. Just halve the papaya, remove the seeds and enjoy.
Mango: Mangoes contain more than 20 different vitamins and minerals and meet 12 percent of the daily value for fiber. One cup of mangoes is a good source of vitamin B6, which helps the body with blood glucose control. Mangoes are also high in vitamins A, C, E and K. At 100 calories in approximately one cup, mangoes are a very nutrient-dense food. In other words, mangoes provide a great deal of nutrition for a small amount of calories. They taste delicious added to salads, salsas, smoothies or hot cereals.
Pineapple: Pineapples are probably the most familiar of the tropical fruits. Like papaya, pineapple contains an enzyme known as bromelain. Bromelain breaks down proteins and aids in digestion. It also can act as a meat tenderizer, making pineapple a great marinade for chicken or pork. Pineapples are high in vitamin C and a good source of folate, vitamin B6 and potassium. Manganese is a mineral that helps keep bones strong and pineapple is packed with it. One cup of pineapple meets 73 percent of the recommended daily allowance for manganese.
Dried tropical fruits can also be used as a snack, in muesli or tossed on a salad. The next time you are shopping at the grocery store, pick up some tropical fruits. The taste, health benefits and overall goodness can't be beat.
Serves: 5 (1/2 cup each) Source: Hy-Vee Test Kitchen
All you need:
1 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats
1 (6-ounce) container coconut Greek yogurt
1 cup non-fat milk
1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted*
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup tropical medley dried fruit
All you do:
1. Stir together all ingredients; cover.
2. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
*To toast nuts, bake in 350-degree oven for 5 minutes.
Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories, 34 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 19 grams sugar, 7 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, 0 grams trans-fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 11 grams protein
Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at email@example.com.