These spiky red, orange, and yellow fruits look like the tops of the Truffula trees from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Rambutan is actually native to Malaysia and Indonesia, and it packs a serious punch when it comes to vitamins. Inside the strange-looking skin is the white or yellow fruit itself. Rambutan’s center is similar to a grape and has about 40% of your daily intake of vitamin C in a 100-gram portion. In addition to vitamin C, rambutan is also a great source of iron (13% to 31% of your daily intake) and phosphorus (4% of your daily intake). Rambutan can be eaten raw, but it can also be stewed with sugar and cloves for a warm treat. Be careful though -- at the center of the fruit is a seed about the size of a cherry pit.
African Horned Cucumber
With it’s bright yellow skin and pointy horns, there’s nothing inviting about this fruit. The lime green flesh inside may not look much better, but it’s actually very tasty and nutritious. In fact, it has high levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, fiber, calcium, and zinc. Overall, it’s wonderful for your eye health, metabolism, cognitive function, digestion, and for managing diabetes. When eating an African horned cucumber, it’s important to make sure the fruit is truly ripe—because when unripe, it contains toxic chemicals that can cause headaches, fever, and digestive issues. This interesting fruit can be enjoyed raw, or you can use the seeds to flavor roasted meat, like steak or pork chops.
Buddha's Hand Fruit
You don’t have to be Buddhist to appreciate this interesting fruit. Buddha’s hand is a citrus fruit, but most varieties lack pulp or juice. Each finger contains the white flesh of the fruit, which is often used as a zest in desserts, alcoholic drinks, and savory dishes. This revered appendage is high in vitamin C, calcium, and dietary fiber, which makes it one of the healthiest zests available.
Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, but it looks—and feels—like a giant rock. A single fruit can reach as much as 80 pounds! The fruit is rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, potassium, and magnesium. Plus, the seeds are high in protein. Jackfruit can be eaten a number of ways—you can enjoy it alone, use it as an ingredient in recipes, or even roast the seeds to eat as a snack. Additionally, unripened jackfruit works well in curry and other dishes as a meat substitute.
These fuschia fruits don’t look so friendly or normal sitting on top of a wild cactus. But once you get past their dangerous exterior, the prickly pear is a tasty treat that contains dietary fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and protein. You can eat a prickly pear raw by removing the skin, but juicing or cooking it are also options.
The gac fruit is a bright orange, spiky oval that would fit in quite nicely on set for the movie Avatar. When cut in half, it has a yellow flesh surrounding bright red-orange sacs, called arils. The exterior of the fruit is actually toxic, so only the red arils on the inside are consumed. However, those arils are packed with more nutrients than you would think—specifically beta-carotene, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. In fact, gac fruit contains more beta-carotene than any other fruit or vegetable, carrots included! It is often cooked with rice, juiced to create a delicious beverage, or used in dishes for special occasions.
There’s not one normal thing about the appearance of dragon fruit. From the pink exterior with long green stems to the dalmatian-like interior, it’s bizarre but aptly-named. Dragon fruit’s bold exterior doesn’t match the mild taste of it’s flesh, which is often compared to melon or kiwi. It’s high in dietary fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, iron, phosphorous, and calcium. To eat, simply cut the dragon fruit in half and use a spoon to scoop out the polka dotted goodness. It can also be used in smoothies, cocktails, parfaits, and to season roasted chicken.
At first glance, this Australian fruit just looks like a misshapen lime—unless you get a red or pink one, at which point things get real weird. Once you crack it open though, it looks like a nest of alien eggs. The inside of a finger lime contains many tiny pods, which is why it’s sometimes called “citrus caviar”. Finger limes are high in vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. You can enjoy finger limes on their own if you love a sour fruit, or even sprinkle a few pods on top of fish and other meats for a citrusy burst.
Everything about this fruit says “Disney movie,” but it’s actually a real thing, and it’s delicious! When sliced horizontally, the slices resembles stars, hence the name. Everything about the star fruit is edible—the skin is similar to that of a grape, and the seeds are small enough to enjoy as well. Star fruit is low in calories but high in potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. It can be eaten alone, added to fruit salads, used in beverages, tossed with leafy greens, and even paired with seafood and poultry dishes. However, you should avoid starfruit if you have kidney problems—it contains a neurotoxin only healthy kidneys can filter from the body.
When you’re in need of some serious vitamin C, reach for the bumpy pink fruit called lychee. It might look a bit like a dinosaur egg, but it’s actually quite tasty. One serving of lychee has about 86% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. You can enjoy this fruit raw by peeling off the leathery skin and removing the seed, or you can add it to fruit salads, salsas, or even stuff one with a nut and cheese mixture.