STRANGEST Hybrid Fruits In The World!
10 Strange-Looking Things That Are Actually Fruit
A star, a blowfish and a long-fingered hand aren’t exactly regulars on your menu, but their virtual replicas and seven other wacky-looking items are all good-for-you fruits. Instead of passing these by in the grocery store, click through to find out the unexpected health benefits hiding in the freakiest fruits out there. Plus, pick up some yummy serving suggestions.
Resembling a bunch of fingers (hence the name), Buddha’s hand tastes lemony—without the pulp. “The rind is often used for zesting; it offers about eight times as much as other citrus for the same surface area,” says Jennifer Dimitriou, a registered dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. And it’s an excellent source of vitamin C. Available at grocery stores like Whole Foods, use it to add tang to fish, salads, cocktails and baked goods.
An edible cactus? You bet! Commonly known as dragon fruit, the pitaya is a member of the cactus family with a hard-to-miss pink skin and scaly leaves. The subtly sweet fruit is similar to kiwis in texture, with a creamy, white pulp and tiny black seeds, says Dimitriou. Find the low-calorie treat at Asian markets and grocery stores like Whole Foods. Eat it on its own or mixed into a smoothie or fruit salad for a dose of healthy fats, fiber and calcium. Because it’s low in carbs and bland in flavor, type 2 diabetes patients often use the fruit in lieu of rice, notes Dimitriou. So give it a try in your next stir fry!
To enjoy this fruit, you’ve got to work for it. Crack the tough shell and peel away the stringy substance to reveal a sweet-and-sour paste. Available in Asian markets and some grocery stores, the pod is just five calories and one gram of sugar, making it a perfect snack, says registered dietitian Michelle Dudash, author ofClean Eating for Busy Families. Also hailed for its pain-relieving properties, over 100 tons of it are imported to the US each year to treat colds, constipation, fever, nausea and more, says Dudash.
You may recognize this by its more familiar name—star fruit, so-called because its slices are star-shaped. “It adds tart flavor to certain poultry, meat and seafood dishes and acts as a garnish for salads, drinks and desserts,” says Mira Ilic, registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic. “It also can be eaten fresh, juiced and in jam or chutney.” The flavorful fruit is only 41 calories per 1-cup serving, but it’s chock full of vitamin C, potassium, flavonoids, B vitamins and fiber. Pick some up at your local grocery store.
No, that puffed, spiky thing isn’t a blowfish, but this horned melon is nicknamed blowfish fruit. You can spot it in your supermarket by its orange skin. Its lime-green flesh tastes like a mix of cucumber, kiwi and banana. “Cut it in half and squeeze from the bottom so that small, jelly-like sacs come to the surface,” suggests Dimitriou. “You can lick or suck up each sac of fruit and seed.” Rich in vitamin C, iron and potassium and made mostly of water, they’re ideal for rehydrating on a warm day.
If you’re a fan of bananas, you’ll go bananas over jackfruit. Under its enormous, prickly, green exterior (it’s the largest fruit grown on a tree), the jackfruit’s numerous bulbs have a sweet, buttery flavor. “It’s a good source of vitamin C and one of the rare fruits rich in the B-complex group of vitamins, which benefit memory and mood and can even ease migraines,” says Dimitriou. “They also increase energy and reduce heart-disease risk.” Best when cooked, add jackfruit, sold at Asian food markets, to jams and desserts. Or fry them as chips.
If you don’t think the spiny, heart-shaped fruit looks edible, you’re right—partially. Only its seeds can be eaten, and they’re loaded with antioxidants, including tocotrienols, a form of Vitamin E which has been shown to fight cancer-forming cells, says Dimitriou. To reap the benefits, look for the seeds whole or in powder form in the Latin food section of the supermarket or at Latin markets, and enjoy their nutty, peppery taste as a seasoning on meats, soups and rice dishes and in baked goods. But the super seeds have another purpose: They give butter its yellow color.
Calling all juice lovers; this fruit is for sipping. “A half cup of Hawaiian noni juice has only 15 calories and 1.5 grams of sugar, which is low for fruit juice,” says Dudash. “It also contains more than 50% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.” Pick up the nutrient-packed fruit in juice and powder form at health food stores and drugstores like Walgreens—especially during your period. “It was traditionally used in Polynesian cultures to treat menstrual cramps,” says Dimitriou. Dudash adds that preliminary animal studies have shown that the juice is linked to cancer prevention and treatment.
This hairy treat may look more like a sea creature than a fruit, but don’t let its spines and leathery, red skin fool you. “It tastes sweet and mildly acidic—like grapes,” says Dimitriou. Full of vitamin C and iron, the fruit’s translucent flesh resembles a boiled egg and is similar to a lychee in texture. If you’re feeling adventurous, pick up fresh rambutan at an Asian market and eat it right from the rind, but discard the single seed–it’s toxic. In canned form, you can mix it right into a fruit salad for a tropical twist.
Are piña coladas your go-to drink? Then kick back with a sugar apple. The fruit tastes like a pineapple-banana combo. Looking like an overgrown pinecone, the scaly, green skin is filled with an edible custardy pulp; just grab a spoon and scoop it out. “Puree it and use it in smoothies, as an ice-cream topping or on fruit salads,” says Ilic. Or just drink its juice. “It’s a good source of fiber and contains antioxidants and B vitamins.” Look for the low-calorie treat in farmers markets, gourmet grocery stores and Spanish markets.
Video: Unusually shaped fruits and vegetables that look like other things
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