Why Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits are Worth the Search
By Martha Michael
If routines such as oatmeal for breakfast are your jam, you may be missing out on the benefits of a varied diet that includes root vegetables and exotic fruits. If it sounds daunting to seek out the less ordinary varieties, you shouldn’t have to search far and wide for pop culture favorites such as sweet potatoes and acai berries.
Potatoes and onions are two of the most common root vegetables, which are foods that grow underground and contain nutrients that help prevent such conditions as high blood pressure and stomach ulcers.
An article on Healthline has a list of accessible root vegetables that are prevalent in most American grocery stores.
Sweet Potatoes - With high fiber, Vitamin A, manganese, and Vitamin C, sweet potatoes are known to slow down vision loss and boost immune function. They also have antioxidants, including beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid, and anthocyanins.
Ginger - Extracted from a Chinese plant that’s similar to turmeric, ginger is used in beverages such as tea and smoothies, as well as entrees from soup to stew. It has antioxidants and is useful in reducing nausea and decreasing pain and inflammation.
Garlic - Found in popular Italian entrees to enhance flavor, garlic also has medicinal properties as it boosts immunity and prevents infection. It contains Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and manganese, which contribute to lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Radishes - Typically used to add crunch to snacks and salads, radishes are low in carbohydrates and calories. They contain fiber and Vitamin C, and their leaves may be effective against stomach ulcers.
Fennel - From a flowering plant with a flavor like black licorice, fennel is a species related to carrots and contains Vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and manganese. It also has anethole, a compound with antimicrobial properties and has been associated with lower blood sugar.
Beets - Loaded with fiber, manganese and folate, beets are high in nitrates that can lower blood pressure and boost heart health. They increase blood flow to the brain and improve exercise performance.
Cultures around the world have access to different exotic fruits, each with a nutrition package of their own. WebMD features a list of fruits and the health benefits that make them worth seeking out:
Passion fruit - With a taste resembling guava, passion fruit has a five-petaled flower and is fragrant and colorful. With little more than 17 calories, you get potassium and fiber when you scoop out the fruit and consume the seeds and pulp. It often comes in the form of juice or an ingredient in sauces.
Star fruit - Both sweet and tart, star fruit is yellow when ripe and ready to slice and eat. There are no seeds to work around, and you get lots of Vitamin C and fiber.
Dragon fruit - Named for its scaly skin, dragon fruit is yellow or pink on the inside and comes from a Central and South American cactus. Similar in flavor to a pear or kiwi, it contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and is known to maintain healthy bacteria in your gut.
Guava - Another fruit originally from Central and South America, a guava has more Vitamin C than an orange. Its edible rind can appear yellow, red, pink, or white, and like strawberries you can eat the seeds. It is used in jam, juice, and sweet treats, and contains potassium, phosphorus, Vitamin A, and fiber.
Acai - Though it grows on palm trees in South America, acai is a popular flavor for smoothies and berry bowls in the U.S. It tastes like a combination of wild berries and chocolate and comes packed with fiber and antioxidants.
Prickly pear - Often found in candy or as an ingredient in jelly or syrup, a prickly pear is an American cactus, not actually a pear. It tastes like watermelon and contains calcium and antioxidants such as Vitamin C.
Seeking out unusual food choices during “Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month” may be challenging, but star-shaped fruit slices are a far more lucky find than the marshmallow stars in a sugary cereal.
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