A Tast of the Tropics

A trip to some warm tropical paradise might not be in your plans this winter. But you can bring the tropics to your table with the abundance of tropical fruits available this month. Tropical fruits will help you meet your daily fruit intake while providing you with nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and antioxidants.

Tropical fruits are an excellent source of fiber. Fiber is the non-digestible part of plants and will give you a feeling of fullness. For those looking to lose some weight in the new year, high-fiber foods are a great choice. With high-fiber foods, we are less likely to overeat and will stay full for a longer period of time. High-fiber foods may help in lowering the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Tropical fruits are an excellent source of the immune-boosting vitamin C. Vitamin C helps maintain skin and bones as well.


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


Mangoes contain more than 20 different vitamins and minerals and meet 12% of the daily value for fiber. One cup of mangoes 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.


Pineapples are probably the most familiar of the tropical fruits. Like papaya, pineapple contains an enzyme known as bromelain. Bromelain breaks down proteins and aids in digestion. It also act as a meat tenderizer, making pineapple a great marinade for chicken or pork. Pineapples are high in vitamin C and a good source of folate, vitamin B6 and potassium. Manganese is a mineral that helps keep bones strong and pineapple is packed with it. One cup of pineapple meets 73% of the recommended daily allowance for manganese.

Dried tropical fruits can also be used as a snack, in muesli or tossed on a salad. The next time you are shopping at the grocery store, pick up some tropical fruits. The taste, health benefits and overall goodness can’t be beat.

Tropical Muesli

Serves: 5 (1/2 cup each)

Source: Hy-Vee Test Kitchen

All you need:

1 cup uncooked Hy-Vee old-fashioned oats

1 (6 ounce) container Chobani Coconut Greek yogurt

1 cup non-fat milk

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped and toasted*

1 tbsp Hy-Vee honey

cup tropical medley dried fruit

All you do:

1. Stir together all ingredients; cover.

2. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

*To toast nuts, bake in 350-degree oven for 5 minutes.

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