Although some people are happy eating the same fruits every day, you may want a bit more variety.
Interestingly, thousands of fruits grow around the globe, some of which you may have never heard of.
Here are 17 unique and nutritious fruits to try.
Rambutans are the reddish fruits of the Nephelium lappaceum tree, which is native to Southeast Asia.
Their grape-like, gelatinous flesh tastes sweet, yet slightly tart.
Rambutans are particularly rich in vitamin C, providing 40% of the Daily Value (DV) per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. This water-soluble vitamin boasts powerful antioxidant and immune-boosting properties (2).
Pawpaws (Asimina triloba) are the largest edible fruit native to the United States. Historically, they've been essential to several Native American nations and provided sustenance for early European explorers and settlers (3).
Pawpaws can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. They have a greenish-yellow hue when ripe and a sweet, somewhat tropical taste (4).
Its delicate flesh and short shelf life limit its availability. Nonetheless, you can get pawpaws from specialty growers or farmers markets in the United States when they're in season.
3. Kiwano (Horned Melon)
Kiwano (Cucumis metuliferus), also known as horned melon or jelly melon, is the delectable fruit from a vine native to Africa. It belongs to the same family as cucumbers and melons.
Its vivid, orange skin is covered in small spikes, while its flesh is jelly-like and vibrant green or yellow. Although the seeds are edible, some people prefer to eat only the flesh.
Kiwano is a good source of many nutrients, particularly vitamin C and magnesium. Plus, animal research suggests it may help lower blood sugar levels, which may be helpful for people with diabetes (6, 7Trusted Source).
Loquats are the small, highly nutritious fruits of the Eriobotrya japonica tree. They're yellow, orange, or reddish, depending on the variety.
Loquats are particularly rich in carotenoids — plant pigments with powerful health-promoting properties. For example, eating a carotenoid-rich diet may help protect against heart disease and certain types of cancer (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source).
These sweet, citrusy fruits can be eaten raw or incorporated into both sweet and savory dishes. Loquats can be found at some specialty grocery stores.
Not to be confused with the candies of the same name, jujubes — also known as Chinese dates or red dates — are nutrient-dense fruits native to Southeast Asia.
Though jujubes can be eaten fresh, they're more commonly eaten dried because they take on a sweet, candy-like taste and chewy texture.
6. Star Fruit
Star fruit, also called carambola, is a tropical fruit with a star-like shape. Its unique shape and bright color make it a popular add-in for fruit salads and cheese plates.
Yellow when ripe, this fruit has a juicy texture and slightly tart taste. Star fruit is a convenient, portable snack choice because the entire fruit is edible.
Carambola is low in calories, containing only 38 per large fruit (124 grams), but it also offers plenty of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and copper. In particular, its rich supply of insoluble fiber promotes healthy bowel movements and overall digestive health (12, 13Trusted Source).
7. Black Sapote
Black sapote (Diospyros nigra)is closely related to persimmons. Often called "chocolate pudding fruit," black sapote has dark brown, custard-like pulp that's somewhat reminiscent of chocolate pudding.
Native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, black sapote isn't frequently sold in stores but can be purchased online from specialty growers when in season.
Its flesh has a banana-like aroma and sweet flavor when ripe. Unripe jackfruit is often used as a vegan meat replacement due to its mild taste and meaty texture.
What's more, it's an excellent source of many nutrients, including vitamin C, several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and antioxidants. Some research even suggests that it may help lower your blood sugar (15Trusted Source).
Cherimoya, or custard apple, is a unique fruit prized for its sweet, creamy flesh. It's native to South America but grown in tropical regions worldwide.
The creamy flesh of these green, heart-shaped fruits is commonly scooped out with a spoon.
Cherimoya is loaded with fiber, vitamin C, several B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. This nutrient-dense fruit also provides antioxidants that may protect against cellular damage (16, 17Trusted Source).
Soursop (Annona muricata) is an oval-shaped fruit covered with tiny spines. It can reach upwards of 15 pounds (6.8 kg) and takes on a yellow-green hue when ripe. It has a distinctly sweet-and-sour flavor (18).
Though cultivated in tropical regions, soursop can be purchased online through specialty fruit distributors.
11. Husk Cherries
Husk cherries, also known as golden berries, Cape gooseberries, Inca berries, or Peruvian groundcherries, are small, yellow fruits with a sweet, grape-like flavor.
Wrapped in an inedible papery husk, they resemble tomatillos and are often used to make jams, sauces, and desserts. They can also be eaten raw as a tasty, low-calorie snack.
They're packed with compounds like vitamin C, numerous B vitamins, and beta carotene — a potent carotenoid antioxidant (20Trusted Source).
Husk cherries are grown in many parts of the world and may be available at your local specialty grocery store or farmers market.
Manilkara zapota is an evergreen tree native to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America that produces fruits known as sapodillas.
The fruit is egg-shaped with brown, rough skin. Sapodillas are prized for their exceptional sweetness, with the flesh usually eaten raw straight from the rind. Depending on the variety, sapodillas are either smooth or granular.
Cloudberries (Rubus chamaemorus) grow wild in cool, temperate regions like Canada, Eastern Russia, and the Northeastern United States. They're sought by foragers due to their unique sweet and tart taste.
These yellow-orange berries are an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 176% of the DV per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving. What's more, they're high in ellagic acid, an antioxidant that may improve metabolic health and combat cancer (23, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
As cloudberries aren't typically cultivated, they're difficult to find. Yet, products made from cloudberries, such as jams and preserves, can be purchased online.
14. Longan Fruit
Related to rambutan and lychee, longan fruit (Dimocarpus longan) is native to Southern Asia. Also known as dragon's eye, its gelatinous, translucent flesh encases a black seed and resembles an eyeball when shelled.
This fruit is enjoyable fresh or cooked but often preserved by canning or drying.
Longan fruits are high in vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants. Due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, they're used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve appetite, reduce fever, and fight parasitic infections (27Trusted Source).
15. Beach Plums
each plums (Prunus maritima Marsh.) are a wild plum that grows along the eastern coastline of the United States. The plants thrive in sandy soil and are salt-tolerant, which is why they appear near coastal dunes and beaches (28).
Similar to a cherry in size and shape, this fruit ranges from blue to blackish-purple.
Beach plums are sweet when ripe and commonly used in desserts or made into jams, jellies, and preserves. Like other wild plums, they're low in calories but a good source of several nutrients, including provitamin A and vitamin C (29).
16. Prickly Pear
Prickly pear (Opuntia), also called nopal, is a cactus native to Mexico and the Southwestern United States.
Its fruits vary from bitter to incredibly sweet. The skin is covered in sharp hairs and must be peeled before eating.
These fruits can be enjoyed fresh but are also made into juice and syrup. You can shop for raw nopal or prickly pear syrup at natural food stores or online.
17. Japanese Persimmons
Though many types of persimmons exist, the Japanese persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is the most widely cultivated. These range in color from orange to brownish-red and have soft, sweet flesh when ripe.
Persimmons are sold in specialty grocery stores when in season.
The Bottom Line
Rambutans, black sapote, star fruits, sapodillas, and beach plums are just a few of the thousands of unique, nutritious fruits grown around the world.
Their distinctive flavors and wealth of nutrients may benefit your health in an assortment of ways.
Try out some of the interesting fruits on this list to add variety to your snacks and meals.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
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