11 Fruits that Make You Go “Hmmmm”

By: Wendy Wu, R.D., M.S.

exotic fruits happy dietitian
Photo via http://www.freshplaza.com

Have you ever wanted to try those odd looking fruits in the produce section of the Asian market? You know, the ones that kind of look familiar but are either monster versions or munchkins of fruits you normally eat. To help with your curiosity, I’ve listed 11 fruits that make you go “Hmmmm”. Next time you see them, try them! As a bonus, you can scroll down the page to learn more about the functions and other food sources of the vitamins and minerals listed.

1) Kumquats- Sweet and tangy with a funny name. Pop them into your mouth whole (the skin is my favorite part) as they are good sources of Vitamin C and Fiber.

kumquats happy dietitian

2) Starfruit- Named after its adorable shape and used often as garnish. Very good source of Vitamin C, Fiber and Copper.

star fruit happy dietitian

3) Durian- The king of fruits. This delightfully stinky fruit is a good source of Fiber, Thiamin, Vitamin B6 and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin C.

durian happy dietitian

4) Passion Fruit- So sweet, tart and fragrant. The purple variety is a good source of Riboflavin, Niacin and Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C.

passion fruit happy dietitian

5) Dragon Fruit- This evening flowering cactus is sweet and juicy. The red skinned varieties are good sources of Vitamin C, Fiber, Calcium and Phosphorus.

dragon fruit happy dietitian

6) African Cucumber- Described as a melon with horns, is a good source of Vitamin A and very good source of Vitamin C. Eat the seeds for a boost of Iron.

african cucumber happy dietitian

7) Mangosteen- The Queen of tropical fruits is a good source of Fiber, Vitamin C, and Folic acid.

mangosteen happy dietitian

8) Loquat- So much work for so little flesh. But it’s a good source of Fiber, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin A.

loquat happy dietitian

9) Sugar Apple- So sweet and delicious but why so many seeds? A good source of Fiber and Vitamin B6, and a very good source of Vitamin C.

sugar apple happy dietitian

10) Guava- Super fruit for good reasoning. A good source of Vitamin A, Folate, Potassium, Copper and Manganese, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin C.

guavas happy dietitian

11) Nose Apple- Crunchy and juicy. A good source of Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium.

nose apple happy dietitian

Overview of Vitamins and Minerals

vitamin A happy dietitian

Vitamin A:

-Helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin

-Produces the pigments in the retina of the eye

-Promotes good vision, especially in low light

Other Food Sources: Cantaloupe, pink grapefruit, apricots, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, spinach, fish, milk, cheese, and most dark green, leafy vegetables

thiamine happy dietitian

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin):

-Helps the body’s cells convert carbohydrates into energy

-Essential for the functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system

Other Food Sources: Whole Grains, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, enriched flour and bread, lean meats, fish, milk, organ meats, and peas

riboflavin happy dietitian

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin):

– Important for body growth and red blood cell production

-Helps in releasing energy from carbohydrates

Other Food Sources: Nuts, milk, legumes, dairy, eggs, cereal, lean meats, and green leafy vegetables

niacin happy dietitian

Vitamin B3 (Niacin):

-helps the digestive system, skin, and nerves to function

-important for converting food to energy

Other Food Sources: Dairy, eggs, enriched breads and cereals, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, fish oil, and poultry

vitamin B6 happy dietitian

Vitamin B6:

-Make antibodies which are needed to fight many diseases

-Maintain normal nerve function

-Make hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the red blood cells to the tissues

-Helps prevent anemia

-Break down proteins, so the more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need

-Keep blood sugar (glucose) in normal ranges

Other Food Sources: Avocado, asparagus, banana, eggs, legumes (dried beans), meat, nuts, poultry, and whole grains

folic acid happy dietitian

Folic Acid:

-Helps tissues grow and cells work

-Taking the right amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects (spina bifida + anencephaly)

-Helps prevent anemia

-Folate works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body break down, use, and create new proteins

-Helps form red blood cells and produce DNA, the building block of the human body, which carries genetic information

Other Food Sources: Dark green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas (legumes), citrus fruits, enriched-breads, cereals, flours, cornmeals, pastas, rice, and other grain products

vitamin C happy dietitian

Vitamin C:

-needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is used to:

  • Form an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
  • Heal wounds and form scar tissue
  • Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth

-One of many antioxidants which blocks some of the damage caused by free radicals.

Other Food Sources: Cantaloupe, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, watermelon, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, other leafy greens, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, tomatoes, tomato juice, and winter squash

copper happy dietitian


-Copper, along with iron, helps in the formation of red blood cells

-Helps in keeping the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy

Other Food Sources: Oysters and other shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, and organ meats (kidneys, liver), dark leafy greens, prunes, cocoa, black pepper, and yeast

calcium happy dietitian


-Building strong bones and teeth

-Clots blood

-Sends and receives nerve signals

-Muscle contraction and relaxation

-Releasing hormones and other chemicals

-Keeping a normal heartbeat

Other Food Sources: Dairy, broccoli, avocados, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, canned sardines and salmon with bones, tofu, fortified orange juice, white beans, enriched cereals and breads

iron happy dietian


– The human body needs iron to make the oxygen-carrying proteins hemoglobin and myoglobin.

Other Food Sources: Dried beans, dried fruits, eggs (especially egg yolks), Iron-fortified cereals, liver, lean red meat (especially beef), oysters, poultry, dark red meat, Salmon, tuna, and whole grains

potassium happy dietitian


-Essential for the proper function of all cells, tissues, and organs:

  • It assists in the regulation of the acid-base balance
  • It assists in protein synthesis from amino acids and in carbohydrate metabolism
  • It is necessary for the building of muscle and for normal body growth
  • It is essential for the normal electrical activity of the heart

Other Foods Sources: Dried herbs, avocado, paprika and red chili powder, cocoa powder and chocolate, nuts, seeds, fish beans, dates, bananas, tomatoes, beets and carrots

phosphorus happy dietitian


-Formation of bones and teeth

-Important role in the body’s utilization of carbohydrates and fats and in the synthesis of protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues

-Crucial for the production of ATP, a molecule the body uses to store energy

-Assists in the contraction of muscles, in the functioning of kidneys, in maintaining the regularity of the heartbeat, and in nerve conduction

Other Food Sources: Bran, pumpkin, squash, watermelon, eggs, milk, fish, lean meat, poultry, sesame, flax and sunflower seeds, cheese, nuts, and edamame

magnesium happy dietitian


-Contraction and relaxation of muscles

-Function of certain enzymes in the body

-Production and transport of energy

-Production of protein

Other Food Sources: Dark green, leafy vegetables, bananas, dried apricots, avocados, almonds, cashews, Peas and beans (legumes), seeds, tofu, brown rice and millet

fiber happy dietitian


-Adds bulk to your diet

-Makes you feel full faster, it can be helpful in controlling weight

-Aids digestion, helps prevent constipation

There are two forms of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion. Soluble fiber is found in oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, peas, and some fruits and vegetables. Soluble fiber has been scientifically proven to lower cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease.

Insoluble fiber is found in foods such as wheat bran, vegetables, and whole grains. It appears to speed the passage of foods through the stomach and intestines and adds bulk to the stool.


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