Nature is astounding in her repertoire, and within it we can find some exotic superfoods that range from awe-inspiring to down-right strange. Here are 10 super weird superfoods you may never have heard of before.
If a porcupine and a large tomato were to have a baby fruit, it would look like rambutan. One of many awesome exotic superfoods, this odd ball commonly grows throughout Malaysia and Indonesia. Its insides are sought after as a sweet and sour, gummy nourishment. It contains many vitamins and trace minerals that are often absent in our diets, including iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc.
2. Buddha’s Hand
Another strange, exotic fruit, Buddha’s Hand looks just like its name. Also called Fo Shou in Chinese medicine, the fruit ripens all its carpels separate from each other and form elongated, curved shapes. As a result, each carpel appears like a single finger and the whole fruit looks like a Buddha hand. Yeah?
Including coumarin compounds, this fruit has volatile oils considered very healing, such as the chemical constituents bergapten, limonin, aurantiamarin, and diosmin.
This odd looker can grow to be as much as 80 pounds. That’s a lot of fruit to be hanging from a tropical tree, but this is exactly how jackfruit grows. Jackfruit is native to South and Southeast Asia and is from the same family as mulberries and figs, but grows to be much larger than its cousins. Jackfruit is excellent for promoting brain health, and is full of manganese and vitamin C.
4. Carambola (Star Fruit)
This fruit is absolutely amazing. Native to Thailand, Southeast Asia, Australia, and South America, it is shaped like a 5-pointed star when you slice through it. What really makes the star fruit shine, though, is its high content of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. It’s also full of antioxidants and flavanoids.
Also known as horned melon, this exotic superfood looks like something that would have been eaten in Middle Earth in the Lord of the Rings. It was little known until after the 1930’s outside of its place of origin in Africa. Kiwano is full of a-tocopherol and y-tocopherol, as well as carotenoids which help suppress free radicals and protect DNA.
This fruit also contains about 307 IU of vitamin A to protect eyesight, zinc, and vitamin C, all of which slow the aging process.
6. Hemp Milk
Though many people who shop regularly at health food stores have long known about hemp milk, those who think of milk as only coming from dairy cows have another thing coming. Hemp milk is not made from marijuana, but a different related plant that does not contain any compounds that could make you ‘high.’
Hemp milk is absolutely full of omega-3 fatty acids (which most American’s lack in their diets) calcium, iron, and other vitamins. It has a slight nutty flavor and is very easy to digest. It is a wonderful alternative for those who are lactose intolerant, too!
Among other exotic superfoods is Arame. Arame is collected off the shores of Japan, and while you may want to wait until Fukushima is cleaned up, this superfood kelp (also known as sea oak) is chock-full of calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, and vitamin A.
The sea veggie can also be found at health food stores, and has been cultivated in safer waters. Kelps like arame have been used for centuries to promote good health. It’s one of the foods that Okinawans consume to have one of the longest life spans on the planet.
8. Dragon Fruit (Pitaya)
The skin of dragon fruit (pitaya) resembles the tale of a fairy tale dragon, but there is nothing mythical about the nutrition it offers. Dragon fruit is full of vitamins C, B1, B2, and B3, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. It also contains high amounts of fiber and has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels to prevent diabetes.
Mark twain once said of the cherimoya, “[this is] the most delicious fruit known to man.” This super food looks like a swollen artichoke, but it is precious for the nutrition it provides, and its insides are said to taste like an apple pie or custard.
Grown predominantly in Peru, Bolivia, Portugal, South Asia, and Central America, it has a creamy inside that is full of vitamin C and offers more fiber than an apple.
If you’re going to eat a potato, oca is a great selection and it’s a cute, little, brightly colored thing as well. Not Okra, but oca, also known as the New Zealand yam, is an exotic superfood tuber heralded for containing an excellent source of carbohydrates, phosphorus and iron, as well as essential amino acids that promote the health and proper function of muscles, organs, nails, hair, skin and more.
Though some of these exotic superfoods may be hard to get your hands on, they are well worth the hunt. They’ll keep your diet from being boring without ever having to resort to packaged convenience foods from the grocery store that are full of questionable ingredients.
Have more strange super foods to add to the list (such as the guyabano fruit)? Add them to the comments section below.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.