In many parts of the country, snow and ice still have a deathgrip on the local climate. In my neck of the woods, we still have massive piles of ice and snow on every street corner and at the end of every driveway. So it’s only natural that many of us are looking for a way to bust through the winter blues.

One thing that often works is to enjoy more tropical fruits, such as mangoes, bananas, coconuts, or papayas. These fruits are usually available all winter long, and are like an early preview of summer’s warmth. But beyond these warm feelings, many tropical fruits have far more powerful abilities.

Did you know that one tropical fruit can be used as a substitute for IV fluid in an emergency? Or that another tropical treat has been shown in studies to kill cancer cells? Aside from their health benefits, there are plenty of other reasons to love the following tropical fruits…and some of these benefits will definitely surprise you.

1. Coconuts

You might think of coconut as the sweet topping on German chocolate cake, but this fruit has plenty of health benefits as well. Coconut water has a ton of health benefits. It’s a sterile source of clean water, useful for survival hydration. On top of this, coconut water has the same level of electrolytic balance human blood. In the Pacific Theatre during World War II, coconut water was frequently used in the field as an emergency plasma transfusion for wounded combatants.

Coconut water makes a better sports drink than commercial products, as it is lower in salts and sugars and higher in potassium. And, of course, the flesh and oil of the coconut is also edible and good for you!

2. Mangosteen

The mangosteen is a small fruit with white flesh, popular throughout Asia. One group of scientists has proposed that alpha-mangostin, an antioxidant found only in mangosteen, can cause cell death in leukemia cells, effectively treating the disease. While more research needs to be done, mangosteen is also said to have powerful anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties.

3. Avocado

You might think of it as a vegetable, but this is actually a fruit. And not just any fruit, but a fruit that has been shown to lower cholesterol. They are also rich in folic acid, which can prevent some kinds of common birth defects. Even more interesting is that avocados are the ultimate life hack fruit: when you eat an avocado with other vegetables, you absorb more nutrients from the meal than you would have from eating the vegetables alone. Top your salad with a few slices of avocado, and you’ll be increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals from the meal.

4. Mango

A single mango will contain half of your recommended daily allowance of both Vitamin A and Vitamin C, as well as some B-Vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, polyphenols, beta-carotene, and…well, maybe it would have been quicker for me to list the few nutrients that this little fruit DOESN’T contain…

I picked up an interesting tip about quickly ripening mangoes from the book “Urawaza”, which I reviewed here recently. If you pick up a mango at the supermarket that is still hard, soak it in simmering water for just 10 minutes to speed up the ripening process. The sooner you can eat one, the sooner you can start to enjoy its beneficial qualities.

5. Longan

Longan berries, native to China, have long been said by Asian herbalists to have relaxing properties, making them the perfect snack to enjoy to lower your stress levels. It is also said to have anti-cancer, antioxidant, and liver-protective properties. The longan contains high levels of iron, potassium, and large amounts of vitamins A and C. Finding them in a form other than fresh at your local market may be tough, but dried and canned longan are also available.

Conclusion

In general, eating more fruits is good for your health. Overall, tropical fruits have been known to reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. On top of these benefits, a diet rich in tropical fruits ensures that you will have improved digestion and GI function. Best of all, these fruits can neutralize free radicals, protecting you from asthma, joint pain, and the above-mentioned heart and cancer risks.

You are what you eat. If you want to be smart, eat smart, and reach for these tropical fruits the next time you are craving a snack.

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