The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 18, 2014

A taste of the tropics for health and flavor

Q: I’ve noticed a lot of tropical fruits lately in the produce section. Fruits like mango and papaya. I haven’t ever had either before. What do they taste like and how do you eat them?

A: If a trip to some warm tropical paradise is not in your plans this winter, fear not. Let your grocery store bring the tropics to you with their abundance of tropical fruits this month.

Tropical fruits will help you meet your daily fruit intake while providing you with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, antioxidants and fiber. Fiber is the non-digestible part of plants and will give you a feeling of fullness. But we would be remiss if we did not mention vitamin C. Tropical fruits are an excellent source of this immune-boosting vitamin, which helps maintain skin and bones, too.

Papaya

Papaya has a sweet, tart flavor and is high in vitamin C and beta-carotene and a good source of folate. Papaya meets 31 percent of the daily vitamin A needs. Papayas may protect the heart and may have anti-cancer properties. The enzyme papain, found in papaya, may improve digestion and help break down proteins. Papayas are easy to prepare. Just halve the papaya, remove the seeds and enjoy.

Mango

Mangoes contain more than 20 different vitamins and minerals and meet 12 percent of the daily value for fiber. One cup of mango is a good source of vitamin B6 which helps the body with blood glucose control. Mangoes are also high in vitamins A, C, E and K. At 100 calories in approximately one cup, mangoes are a very nutrient-dense food. In other words, mangoes provide a great deal of nutrition for a small amount of calories. Mangoes taste delicious added to salads, salsas, smoothies or hot cereals. To eat, simply cut the fruit from the pit, peel and enjoy.

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