One of the incredible things about Thailand, and Southeast Asia in general, is the sheer wealth of fresh, tropical fruit year round. While some fruits, such as mangosteen or lychees, have specific seasons, many fruits, like coconuts, pineapples and papaya, are available throughout the year and all pack a punch when it comes to important nutrients and natural health properties.
A favorite among yogis, you can’t go very far anywhere in Thailand without coming across fresh young coconuts for drinking. While coconuts are really quite high in fat and calories, travelers go crazy for coconuts here and for good reason – one cup of coconut water contains more than 10% of your daily dose of potassium which is an electrolyte you lose when you sweat…like during yoga class in hot, humid Thailand. The coconut meat also offers a lot of fiber.
Fresh mango is another rich source of potassium as well as iron, vitamin C and vitamin A – one cup of mango provides 25% of your daily vitamin A requirement. Because of its fibrous nature and enzymes that help break down proteins, mangoes work to aid your digestive system and keep things running smoothly. Alternatively, when put directly on your face, mangoes have the ability to help clear acne and dark spots while the Vitamin A and beta-carotene help rejuvenate and moisturize your skin.
The tart taste of green (unripe) mango may take a little getting use to but its benefits are worth it. To begin with, green mango has a lot less sugar than ripe mangoes yet has significantly more vitamin C. Chewing on raw mango can also help treat liver disorders, as it helps increases the production of bile acids to clean the intestines, cure morning sickness and help with constipation. The cooling effects of green mango can also keep sunstroke and prickly heat at bay – a major plus in the tropics!
Perfect sliced with just a little bit of lime squeezed on top, papayas boast 200% of your daily vitamin C requirement which is not only great for keeping your immune system strong but helps lowers stress and cholesterol. Even though they’re sweet, papayas are surprisingly low in sugar and calories, yet help you feel full while keeping your digestion going, thanks to their fiber content. They’re also cancer-fighting as a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids that help reduce free radical damage.
Click here to learn more about papaya seeds and their amazing health benefits.
While guavas may seem to be fairly bland in terms of taste and color, they’re packed with important nutrients including four times the vitamin as an orange, and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Grab a bag of sliced guava from a street cart to eat dipped in the seller’s spicy, salty, sugar-y concoction or drink it as juice.
You’ll find the glossy yellow jackfruit already out of it’s massive, spiky shell prepared, packaged and ready to eat. Low in fat but high in sugar, the fruit is very sweet to the taste while unripe jackfruit can be used in savory dishes to add a meaty texture. Jackfruit is a good source of vitamins A and C as well as antioxidants including beta-carotene and lutein.
Considered the “Queen of Fruits” mangosteen is rich in xanthones which are believed to help a variety of ailments including allergies, infections, inflammation and more. The unique fruit, which has a flavor all its own but is kind of like what you would get if you crossed an orange with a plum, is also high in fiber and has cooling effects. Thais believe that eating mangosteen will help keep you cool and comfortable while indulging in the next fruit will heat you up…
If mangosteen is the Queen, durian is the King. Though it’s known to many Westerners as the infamously stinky fruit with an acquired taste, durian is a prized delicacy throughout Southeast Asia due to its rich, custard-like texture and store of health benefits. The fruit boasts high levels of potassium, fiber, iron, vitamin C and B which makes it helpful in improving muscle strength and blood pressure. It’s also high in good fat and relatively high in protein and considered to be an aphrodisiac. While it’s highly popular throughout Asia, it’s still seen as a special treat that should be savored and not eaten in high amounts.
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