This winter I found myself craving tastes of the Caribbean! Past winters, I would randomly buy pineapple when it was on sale. However this year was different, I was buying mango and pineapple almost every visit to the supermarket. Add a papaya to my grocery cart, and I was in tropical taste heaven. And my tropical fruit habit continues to give me colourful energy into the spring season!
Mangoes, papayas, and pineapples are a perfect fruit trilogy for smoothies, chutneys and Caribbean-themed dishes. Whenever I have a hemp protein smoothie, I add mango. Plus a fruit salsa (yummy recipe at the end of blog), I’ve been making for a few years which has strawberries, mango, pineapple and papaya – this has been a colourful mainstay on my table quite often over the past four months.
- Mangoes have a long growing season and are distributed via Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti. These countries harvest their mango crops at different times of the year, so we can enjoy mangos all year round.
- Papayas are grown in all tropical areas of the world with the largest exports including Brazil, Costa Rica, Thailand and Hawaii. In Costa Rica, papayas are available year round.
- Pineapples are grown in Hawaii and Central America (Honduras, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico). Peak season in Hawaii is April and May; however they are available year round. For Caribbean pineapples, there are two growing seasons: December through February and August through September.
Passion Plus Nutrition
Not only do these fruits add an exotic flare to the typical Canadian meals, they are packed full of nutrition including many antioxidants! Mangos have fibre (good for digestive health), vitamin C (good for immune health), vitamin A (good for eye health) plus folate and vitamin B6 (both good for nerve health). Papaya also has vitamins C, A and folate, plus iron, potassium and calcium. Pineapple has vitamins C, B1, B6, folate, potassium, plus an enzyme bromelain. My tropical fruit habit is not only colourful and delicious but nutritious!
Tropical Fruits and Health
Mango and Heart Health
- Research suggests mango is good for heart health. A study where 30 participants ate 200 grams (1.5 cup) of mango per day over a 30 day period showed that their lipid profiles improved (1). Specifically their triglyceride and very-low-density-lipoprotien (VLDL) levels were reduced.
Papaya and Heart Health & Anti-Inflammation
- Research suggests that papaya is also good for heart health. It seems to reduce the incident of overt inflammation, oxidative stress and alter lipid profile. So much so, that nutraceutical supplements are being made from papaya. In two studies (2, 3) fermented papaya preparation (FPP) was used. The treatment group consumed one sachet of FPP dissolved in warm water twice a day for 14 weeks. Findings suggest C-reactive protein levels decreased, LDL/HDL ratio changed, and uric acid levels improved.
Pineapple and Anti-Inflammation
- Pineapples have many health benefits, but one that stands out is its ability to improve physical symptoms by reducing inflammation. This benefit is due to the enzyme bromelain that is in the pineapple’s stem and fruit. A study explored the effect of taking bromelain as a daily 200mg or 400mg supplement for 30 days on mild acute knee pain with 77 participants (4). The results showed that there was an overall improvement in knee pain in all areas (i.e., pain, stiffness and physical function).
With these great fruit facts, why not add my tropical fruit habit to your recipe collection.
Here is the delicious fruit salsa recipe from californiastrawberries.com. They recommend it with fish tacos and it’s delish. I often pair it with chicken curry. Enjoy the wonderful flavours and beautiful colours!
- Robles-Sanchez M et al. Influence of whole and fresh-cut mango intake on plasma lipids and antioxidant capacity of healthy adults. Food Research International. 2011; 44:1386-1391.
- Krishna K, Paridhavi M, Patel J. Review on nutritional, medicinal and pharmacological properties of papaya (carica papaya linn). Natural Product Radiance. 2008; 7(4):364-373.
- Somanah J et al. Effects of a short term supplementation of a fermented papaya preparation on biomarkers of diabetes mellitus in a randomized mauritian population. Preventive Medicine. 2012; 54:S90-S97.
- Walker A, Bundy R, Hicks S, Middleton R. Bromelain reduces mild acute knee pain and improves well-being in a dose-dependent fashion in an open study of otherwise healthy adults. Phytomedicine. 2002; 9:681-686.