You don’t have to stick to an apple a day to stay healthy. Add some variety with Chinese fruits and light up your taste buds with a sweet-tart treat.
These Chinese fruits are a great way to experiment with new foods because they’re full of vital nutrients and health benefits.
Other names: pamplemousse, pummelo, shaddock
Get all of the benefits of grapefruit without the bitterness. Pomelos are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. These all help to protect against many chronic diseases.
This fruit has a sweeter flavor than grapefruit, and as the largest citrus fruit, pomelo can grow to the size of a basketball. The fruit has traditionally been used to treat heart problems and stomach trouble.
Other names: litchi
You’ve probably seen lychee-flavored snacks, desserts, and jellies. Native to southern China, the curious fruit is spikey, red, and a bit larger than a cherry. They’re typically peeled to reveal translucent-white flesh and eaten fresh.
A single cup of lychee has more than twice your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of copper. Lychee has a high concentration of antioxidants. They may help prevent:
It’s easy to miss these grape-sized citrus fruits, but don’t let their small size fool you. Kumquats are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. You typically eat these little fruits whole, so you also get all of the nutrients in the peel.
According to a recent study, diets high in citrus fruits may help prevent damage from oxidants and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. Add kumquats to your diet to help fend off winter colds and brighten meals as well.
4. Buddha’s hand
Other names: Buddha’s hand citron, fingered citron
Don’t be put off by the odd look of this fruit. In China, Buddha’s hand symbolizes happiness and long life. While this fruit is often used as a decoration, it’s also eaten in desserts and savory dishes, and serves as a traditional tonic.
Unlike a lemon, the fruit has no seeds, juice, or flesh, only rind and pith. The outer rind is used to add a lemony flavor to drinks or dishes. Recent research suggests that it may ease migraines.
Other names: yangmei, yumberry
It’s uncommon to find fresh bayberries outside of China. That’s because they’re delicate and spoil easily. This reddish fruit is juicy and has a slightly acidic flavor.
Bayberries are rich in phytochemicals — plant chemicals that may have health benefits — and antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E. They’re also a good source of folate. Look for them juiced, canned, dried, or frozen.
Other names: mangostan, xango
Despite its name, mangosteen is not like a mango. Inside its inedible red rind are up to eight segments of white flesh that contain a milky juice. The flesh has a sweet-tart taste that many equate with a peach or tangerine.
Mangosteen has traditionally been used in Southeast Asia to treat wounds and skin infections. Some of the compounds in the fruit are effective against certain bacteria and fungi. And recent research indicates that the fruit may help inhibit the growth of cancer. This hasn’t yet been proven in human trials.
Mangosteen is also sold as a supplement and juice to reduce pain and inflammation. However, the Mayo Clinic states that more research is needed to support this use.
7. Star fruit
Other names: carambola
You can’t beat the fun shape of this fruit. When cut in half, star fruit transforms into a five-point star.
The golden yellow star fruit has a sweet-tart flavor, and a single cup contains nearly one-third of your RDA of vitamin C. Eating them is a playful way to get yellow fruits and vegetables into your diet. These have beneficial phytochemicals that are different from what’s found in produce with other hues.
8. Dragon fruit
Other names: pitaya
Despite being one of the most widely recognized Asian fruits, dragon fruit is actually from Central America. However, it’s very popular in China. The stunning red or yellow fruit with green scales looks like it’s packed with vanilla bean ice cream. It can also have magenta or pink flesh inside.
Regardless of the color, the fruit is rich in micronutrients like antioxidants and polyphenols. Its peel is being studied for its potential to slow or stop the growth of melanoma cells.
Other names: Chinese plum, Japanese medlar
This golden fruit resembles an apricot, but it tastes more similar to a sweet-tart plum or cherry. Its orange, yellow, or white flesh is a good source of beta carotene. A single cup has nearly half of your RDA of vitamin A. It’s also high in:
- vitamin B-6
10. Custard apple
Other names: sugar apple, sweetsop, atis, cherimoya
While they may look like oversized green pine cones, custard apples have sweet, juicy flesh with a custard-like texture. This dessert fruit is a good source of vitamin C, riboflavin, and potassium. With nearly one-third of your daily fiber in a single fruit, a custard apple will leave you full and satisfied.
Weighing up to a massive 80 pounds, jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world, and it’s worth its weight nutritionally. Jackfruit is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and copper. Its fiber and sugars act as a prebiotic, supporting beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract.
Jackfruit also has a balance of starch and protein. This makes it a nutritious staple in many Asian dishes. It’s full of phytonutrients that have anticancer, antiaging, and blood pressure-regulating properties.
Other names: Chinese date
Nope, not the candy. Jujube fruit has been grown in China for more than 4,000 years, and many cultures have used it in traditional medicine. Due to its high levels of antioxidants, researchers are looking into its potential effects on breast and cervical cancer.
13. Rose apple
Other names: chomphu, wax apple, pomerac, malay apple, chompoo
Fresh rose apples are difficult to find in the United States because they can host fruit flies and they’re highly perishable. However, you can sometimes find concentrated juice, jelly, or desserts made of rose apples. The fruit gets its name from the sweet rose scent it gives off when ripe. The firm, yellow-pink skin covers crisp, semicrunchy white flesh.
Rose apples are a good source of vitamins A and C. If you do get your hands on a fresh one, be careful to avoid the seeds. They’re considered poisonous.
14. Asian pear
Other names: apple pear
Of all of the fruits on this list, Asian pears are likely the easiest to find fresh. They’re grown in the United States. They may even be available at your local farmer’s market in late summer or early fall.
They have a crisp texture like an apple, but the flavor of a pear. With over one-third of your daily recommended dietary fiber, Asian pears make a good snack. They also have vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. Unlike a traditional pear, you want to eat these when they’re crunchy.
15. Chinese hawberry
Other names: hawthorn
Chinese hawberry has a high concentration of antioxidants that a recent study credits with heart-protective effects like lowering cholesterol. Hawberry also has anti-inflammatory and antitumor properties. Although these small red berries often end up in supplements, you can eat them fresh.
Get a taste and reap the benefits
You’ll find some of these Chinese fruits fresh or frozen at Asian groceries and farmer’s markets. Check out health food stores for extracts and supplements.
Step outside of your comfort zone and include some of these lesser-known fruits in your diet. You’ll not only add some excitement to your day, but they provide many health benefits. Go ahead and eat the rainbow for a nutritious boost.