We all know that fruit is good for us, but most of the time the types of fruit we eat are limited by where we live. That’s a shame because there’s an incredible array of fruit found across the globe that doesn’t just taste incredible, but can also fill our bodies with nutrients and prevent or cure diseases!
Some of the most fascinating fruits are native only to Asia, where people caught on to these magnificent treats a long time ago. Although everybody’s taste is different, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried these exotic fruits…
1. Noni: A Southeast Asian fruit, the noni may lack visual appeal but certainly makes up for it in medicinal properties. Noni juice helps protect against damage caused by strokes. The juice is also full of antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial.
2. Pulasan: Found almost solely in Malaysia, the pulasan is easily confused with the rambutan and lychee. However, they’re much sweeter and have shorter spikes. High in vitamin C and antioxidants, they’re used to manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
3. Breadfruit: This Southeast-Asian fruit is known for its bread-like consistency and flavor. In can be mashed, sautéed, or baked. It can even be candied or turned into fries. Plus, the leftover pulp can be recycled to make paper!
4. Wax Apple: Also known as Java apple, water apple, and love apple, it’s native to the Philippines, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, and comes in a variety of colors. The most popular ones are called “black pearls,” but they’re actually red and purple in color.
5. Lychee: These sweet little fruits originate from the subtropical region of China and have some amazing health benefits. From supporting the digestive system to boosting immunity, they are a great source of vitamin B and antioxidants.
6. Sugar Apple: Although technically a tropical American native, sugar apples blossomed across the West Indies after the Spanish introduced them to the area. They support heart health and milk production for lactating mothers and also prevent asthma due to high levels of antioxidants.
7. Kumquat: These citrus fruits from Southeast China are ready to eat right off the tree. The peel, as well as the inside flesh, is full of vitamins and minerals, and possesses anti-viral and anti-cancer properties, boost metabolisms, and even balances insulin levels in the body.
8. Rambutan: These little land-urchins were named after the Malay word for “hair,” due to the soft red spikes that cover the fruit. A cousin to the lychee and Pulasan, rambutan lacks the variety of vitamins found in those fruits but does boast high levels of dietary fiber and iron.
9. Chinese Bayberry: Rich in the most powerful class of free-radical-killing antioxidants, the Bayberry also boosts the immune system, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and is even used to fight infections. It’s downright tasty, too!
10. Lotus fruits: The lotus flower is an important symbol of perseverance and strength in Hindu and Buddhist practices. In Cambodia, however, they’re simply food; the lotus’s seed pod contains up to two dozen delicious seeds that taste similar to peanuts.
11. Durian: These guys are best known for the strong, rank smell that pierces straight through their outer shell. It’s so stinky that it has actually been banned on public transportation. Despite its odor, durian is extremely healthy, as it’s rich in iron, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.
12. Dragon Fruit: Also known as Pitaya, the dragon fruit is actually a cactus. They are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients, boosting the immune system, reducing the risk of respiratory problems, and alleviating heart problems. Bonus tip: you can carve them into cool shapes!
13. Wood Apples: Like durian, wood apples can scare away potential consumers with intense odors, but if you push past the smell, you’ll find it relieves indigestion, constipation, and ulcers. They’re delicious when eaten raw, but especially when made into jam.
14. Persimmons: Declared Japan’s national fruit, persimmons are popular around the world today. They are high in tannin, which is linked to cell health and regulating blood flow. Resembling a tiny pumpkin, persimmons are often used in baked goods.
15. Asian pear: Popular even in American supermarkets, Asian pears look and taste like a delicious pear-apple hybrid. Rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, Asian pears are as versatile as apples and can be sliced, baked, juiced, and more.
16. Langsat: This tiny fruit is found mostly in Malaysia, and recently made its way into Hawaii. Similar to grapefruit, the langsat is sectioned like an orange and must be peeled from its tough outer skin. Their bitter seeds can kill malaria, but this is not an official cure.
17. Nipah Seeds: Found in the mangroves of Singapore, Nipah palms are extremely versatile. The fronds are used as roofs for huts, the seeds are harvested and made into a jelly used for desserts, and the sap is tapped and pressed into an alcoholic drink.
18. Mangosteen: Hailing from Indonesia, mangosteen are both a miracle fruit and a forbidden one. While it treats UTIs, tuberculosis, osteoarthritis, and eczema, they have sadly have been barred from the U.S. because they may carry Mediterranean fruit flies.
19. Pomelo: Originating from Southeast Asia, pomelos are the largest local citrus fruit and are now grown all over the world. The pomelo is actually the “father” of the grapefruit, as the latter is a hybrid of sweet oranges and pomelos.
20. Jackfruit: These giants grow abundantly in Southwest India, but also thrive in other tropical climates. Jackfruit is commonly used as a plant-based meat alternative because the young, unripe fruit absorbs flavor well and has a stringy, meat-like consistency.
21. Salak: Also known as snake fruit, salak is native to Indonesia. The skin is textured like a cactus and their flavor is acidic. They possess high levels of potassium, calcium, and vitamin C, and are even anti-diarrheal. Be careful though, as eating too many may cause constipation.
22. Yuzu: Found mainly in Japan, yuzus resemble lemons and taste very sour and tart. They are usually not eaten raw but used for their zest and juice when cooking. Yuzu juice is traditionally used to make ponzu, a citrus soy marinade for chicken or fish.
23. Santol: The Philippines are home to the santol fruit, an extremely sour, sub-acid fruit that resembles an apple. The seeds can actually be candied and turned into marmalade and preserves. The roots of the fruit can be used as a tonic, and can even be applied to treat ringworm.
24. Longan: Found all over Asia, Longans are used in sorbets, jellies, salads, and puddings, but they’re also very healthy. The longan’s fruit, flower, and seeds are full of polyphenols, a compound that eliminates stress-inducing radicals and toxins.
25. Starfruit: When sliced, starfruits look exactly like their namesake. Found all across Asia, this fruit is high in fiber and vitamin C. Plus, they add beauty to any dish!
While you’ve never heard of many of these fruits, they aren’t the only ones that might make you look twice in the grocery store. Check out these fruits that are totally unique for entirely different reasons…
1. Look at these two bosom buddies all snuggled up together. Twice the potassium and all for the price of one banana. Weird-looking? Sure, but also a total steal.
2. Traditionally lemons are little spheres of citrus-filled goodness. However, this tangy fruit clearly never got that memo. It looks like a yellow-hued dove that’s getting ready to take flight. Could supernatural lemon forces be at work?
3. Here’s yet another double banana—and an inside view of it to boot! There’s something kind of strange about how natural these two bananas look side by side within this peel. With all this extra fruit, there’s no excuse not to make a banana split at this point!
4. Believe it or not, what you’re looking at is a grape. In fact, it’s better than your average grape; it’s eight entire grapes in one! Forget the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—these are Teenage Mutant Ninja Grapes for the win.
5. What do you do when nature gives you a bizarre, triple-kiwi fruit? Why, you peel that sucker and enjoy three times the amount of delicious, tropical flavor! Sure, it might look a little funky, but that doesn’t make it taste any less delicious.
6. Fruits like strawberries are often known for their very specific shape, but not this monster berry. While the rest of the berries were out there getting ready for swimsuit season, this one has decided to live large. You go, strawberry!
7. Speaking of strange strawberries, you’re probably used to seeing the hundreds of tiny seeds that dot their surface. But did you ever stop to think about what would happen if they accidentally sprouted? It’s definitely a very odd sight to behold!
8. Here’s another sprouted strawberry. Perhaps this one was feeling a bit underdressed and decided that springing some greens would be the perfect way to cover all of its exposed areas. It’s stylish, but not very appetizing.
9. When you pick up an ordinary apple, you aren’t expecting anything unusual. There might be a stem, and you’ll be able to easily identify the base of the apple so you can eat your way around the core. Unless, of course, your apple happens to look like this one. What happened here?
10. It’s funny, but until you’ve seen a perfectly straight-shaped banana like this one, it would never occur to you just how important the banana’s trademark curve is to its appearance. A straight banana just looks like nature went seriously wrong.
11. You know that your fruits and vegetables all have seeds inside of them, but when you shop at the grocery store, many of those seeds are viable. Unless, of course, the seeds happen to be inside of this tomato. These seeds couldn’t wait for the fruit to get eaten before they sprang forth!
12. What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm in your apple (ugh). What’s worse than that, you ask? Finding seeds that have already sprouted and kind of look a little bit too much like worms for comfort.
13. A lemon is often more tart and powerful than you might guess considering its unassuming size. There is nothing remotely unassuming about this lemon, however! It’s like a superhero ready to squirt juice right into the face of evil-doers!
14. When you first look at this photograph, chances are you’ll think you’re looking at a pear. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong: it’s an apple! One that happens to look exactly like a pear, actually. How strange. It’s like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only with fruit.
15. When this person cracked open his orange to enjoy a bit of delicious citrus, he had no idea that he’d scored himself a buy-one-get-one-free deal! Check out the fully formed (albeit tiny) second orange that was waiting to be discovered inside of the first one.