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Brighten Your Summer with Exotic Fruits


An apple a day keeps the doctor away - but it's a fact that it's eating fruit and vegetables that really count towards overall good health, from glowing skin to a trim tummy. The problem: Most of us fail to eat enough of that good stuff. Only 20 percent of all Americans eat the recommended daily amount of fruit, which is one and a half to two cups for women, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And one reason for that problem is, well, boredom. Half of the daily fruit consumption among women consists of four fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, and watermelon. And we're missing out on a lot of valuable nutrients.

Joan Salge Blake, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, admits that when you limit your fruit intake, "you get bored and wind up not wanting to eat them at all," she told Oprah magazine. Fruit contains cancer-fighting agents, improves your heart health, satisfies your hunger without expanding your waistline and even can help you maintain your memory as you get older. A bonus to eating different types of fruit, says Joan: "The more varied your diet, the more likely you are to get all the vitamins, essential minerals, and phytonutrients you need."

A papaya contains more fiber than an apple and contains 67 calories. Cut in half and squeeze lime or lemon juice over it, then chill until ready to serve. Or try cutting up squares and mix with plain Greek yogurt topped with a sprinkle of nutmeg for an exotic delight.

Filled with potassium, kiwi are proof that you shouldn't judge a book (or fruit!) by its cover. They're ugly on the outside, intensely green and delicious on the inside. Peel and eat this 42-calorie fruit raw. Try cutting up kiwi and pink grapefruit in slices for a delicious mixture. And for a beautiful yet simple dessert that's low in calories, make plain sugar-free vanilla pudding, and then mound in parfait dishes one layer of pudding, one layer of kiwi, one layer of pudding and top with kiwi.

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Reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer with guava: It's high in lycopene. One guava has less than 40 calories, yet it gives you more than 200 percent of your daily vitamin C!

Asian pear
Crisp, crunchy Asian pears partner beautifully with a chopped chicken salad. For a tasty snack, spread with almond butter or cashew nut butter. A small Asian pear has just 51 calories but about 4.5 grams of fiber to fill you up, not out.

Star fruit
With just 28 calories, one star fruit gives you almost half of your daily vitamin C needs. For an appealing breakfast, serve mixed with blueberries over yogurt or oatmeal. It's also delicious mixed with watermelon to jazz up your fruit intake.

One word: Smoothie! Cut up a 130-calorie mango after peeling it. Use one-fourth for a smoothie (use almond milk, protein powder and diced mango). Save half for a mid-afternoon snack. And try freezing the remainder in chunks for a reminds-you-of-summer smoothie in mid-winter.

About Those Four Familiar Fruits
Are you a picky eater who wants to stay with those four most popular fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, and watermelon)? Then go for it! But try these tips for variety using your favorites:

  • Apples: Use for snacks paired with protein, such as an ounce of low-fat string cheese or a handful of almonds.
  • Bananas: Cut up and mix with plain yogurt, then freeze until the consistency of soft frozen yogurt for a soothing dessert.
  • Oranges: For something different, try orange segments over a tuna fish salad at noon.
  • Watermelon: Say hello to summer by making a watermelon smoothie (don't add extra water: The watermelon hydrates the smoothie on its own).