Dreaming of tropical beaches, lush palm trees, and exotic eats? The benefits of international travel reach beyond the stress reduction that comes with a much needed vacation. Travel helps us to experience other cultures, connect with others, see different perspectives, and find a new purpose. In fact, studies show that travel can have a positive effect on your health, well-being, relationships, and career.
Oh, and another benefit: food! That includes tropical fruits, many of which happen to be chock full of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that help to fight disease and boost health. Read on to discover nine new fruits you may never have heard of, but are definitely worth traveling for (even if it’s only to a specialty food store)!
Where to find it: Southeast Asia, in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
Nutritional benefits: Revered in Southeast Asia as the “king of the fruits,” the durian is also famous for its distinct pungent odor. If you can get past the smell, you’ll find that its creamy inner flesh
Where to find it: While native to Malaysia and Indonesia, this fruit can now be found all over Southeast Asia.
Nutritional benefits: A close relative of the lychee fruit, the diminutive rambutan — seeds, skin, and pulp — contains high levels of antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which can help to protect against diseases such as cancer. At first glance, this fruit resembles a sea urchin with a spiky red outer shell. However, the white flesh is creamy in texture, and
Where to find it: While native to Central America, pitaya (or dragon fruit) is now one of the most profitable crops in Vietnam. Pitaya is also grown in Thailand, New Zealand, Australia, and Hawaii.
Nutritional benefits: The pitaya is an incredibly nutritious superfood, chock full of antioxidants such as carotenoids, as well as fiber and vitamin C. A
Where to find it: Camu (or Myrciaria dubia) grows in the Amazon rainforests of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela.
Nutritional benefits: This sour tropical berry is lauded for its high vitamin C content, giving camu antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A study in the
Where to find it: Native to southern China, lychee is now grown throughout Asia, Africa, Central and South America, as well as in the United States.
Nutritional benefits: This sweet, fragrant fruit is known for its powerhouse punch of polyphenols, vitamins, and fiber. In fact, one study found that lychee may actually help to trim belly fat: A compound found in the fruit called oligonol may help to prevent obesity and reduce visceral fat. The fruit has a bumpy red outer shell and white inner flesh that can be eaten fresh or dried, giving it a consistency similar to raisins.
Where to find it: Native to China, goji berries can now be found all over Asia and in parts of Europe.
Nutritional Benefits: The bright reddish-orange berry packs a powerful nutritional punch, thanks to its high vitamin and mineral content.
Where to find it: This fruit can be found primarily in Southeast Asia, in countries such as China, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
Nutritional benefits: The distinctive hard purple rind, sweet white flesh, bitter seeds, and bark have all been used for medicinal purposes. In traditional Asian medicine, it’s been used to
Where to find it: The ancient fruit has its origins in South and Central America, in countries such as Brazil and Belize.
Nutritional benefits: This bold berry has been a food staple for native Amazon tribes for centuries, but has recently gained superfood status for the health-conscious, as seen by the latest “acai bowl” trend. And it’s no wonder: The fruit is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some claim that the acai berry works as a metabolism booster and weight reducer, although those claims are unsubstantiated. Studies do show that the high levels of antioxidants found in the acai plant are beneficial, and one study has found that the berry counters oxidative stress and lengthens the lifespan of fruit flies. While this does not mean that it will lengthen the life of humans, another study from the American Chemical Society did find that consuming berries such as acai may help to keep the brain healthy and prevent mental decline.
Where to find it: While jackfruit is indigenous to India, it can now also be found in Southeast Asia. The fruit is grown in central and eastern Africa and Brazil as well.
Nutritional benefits: As one of the largest tree-borne fruits in the world (fun fact: one jackfruit can grow to weigh more than 80 pounds!), this tropical snack is