Villa Quetzal

Villa Quetzal

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Top 5 Super-Fruits you can find in Costa Rica

  1. Mangosteen 
  2. Coconut
  3. Papaya
  4. Pineapple
  5. Maracuya
It is in my opinion, the most delightful of the super-fruit group.

The mangosteen fruit shows 4 to 8 triangular segments of snow-white, juicy, soft flesh.  Most mangosteens have one or two fully developed seeds.
Since the flesh is somewhat hard, you may need to use your knife and cut it like an orange, the top half shell will come apart exposing the delicate and sweet flesh.
This fruit is available all over Costa Rica from July to September.

Many believe mangosteen is a “super-fruit” because it seems to have health benefits like:
-   Anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-convulsing properties 
-    It boosts the immune system
-    It can help with conditions such as allergies, migraines, fatigue, cholesterol, arthritis, and infections. 
-    The fruit also contains good amounts of vitamins and minerals:  vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese. 
I can tell you from experience that when you eat your first mangosteen, there is a rush of life and energy flowing through your body.  If you think I am kidding, just try it.

There are two distinctive stages of the coconuts, the young ones show  beautiful bright green color, they provide coconut water or what we call in Costa Rica “Agua Pipa”, in this stage of the coconut, the flesh is very thin, jelly like texture, sweet and very easy to digest.  “Agua Pipa” is known to have health properties like:
    • Re-hydrates your body because it is a natural isotonic beverage.
    • Brings nutrients and oxygen to the blood cells
    • Raises your metabolism
    • Boosts your immune system
    • Detoxify and fight viruses
    • Cleanses your digestive tract
    • Boosts poor circulation.
It is widely believed that both sides of WWII in the Pacific region used "Agua Pipa" as a substitute for blood plasma when they didn’t have enough during the war.

The second stage of the coconut is maturity; at this point in time the coconut instead being bright green, starts showing hints of yellow on its bigger body, at this stage, the coconut provides a lesser volume of water and a larger volume of flesh than the young coconut.  The water is not clear but milky looking, not sweet but nutty like taste, very drinkable but with diminished health properties.
The flesh on this coconut is harder with a more intense nutty flavor than the young coconut.  It tastes great especially when is cold.
What you know as coconut milk is made from the shredded meat of this mature coconut.
The coconut milk has also great health value:
  • It is rich in antioxidants helping the body to hold up against ageing, sagging of the skin, poor vision, and low bone density.
  • It contains lauric acid, which gives its anti fungal, anti bacterial and anti viral properties.
  • It is good for the heart; the lauric acid helps to unclog the arteries.
  • In spite of the fact that coconut milk contains saturated fats, it helps to control cholesterol levels.
Coconut milk is a common ingredient in many cuisines because it makes delightful dishes.

This is a delicious fruit, come from a plant that grows very easy in the tropical grounds and provides fruit at a young age, sometimes one-year-old plants start giving fruits.  Quit amazing!           
Papayas offer not only the great taste and sun-bright color of the tropics, but are rich sources of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and flavonoids; vitamin B, folic acid and pntothenic acid; and minerals like potassium and magnesium.

Eating papaya on a regular basis promotes the health of the cardiovascular system and provides protection against colon cancer.
Papaya contains the digestive enzyme, papain, which is used like bromelain, a similar enzyme found in pineapple, to treat sports injuries, other causes of trauma, and allergies.
The antioxidant nutrients found in papaya, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, are very good at reducing inflammation.  This may explain why people with diseases that are worsened by inflammation, such as osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, find that the severity of their condition is reduced when they get more of these nutrients by including papaya in the diet.

This fruit can put you in a tropical mood, especially if you are on vacation in Costa Rica;
a juicy ripe pineapple can satisfy your sweet cravings.  It is not only a delicious fruit;
it is loaded with vitamins and minerals.  Its nutrients include calcium, potassium,
vitamin C, and fiber; it is also low in fat and cholesterol.
The most remarkable health properties of this fruit are:
  • Anti-inflammatory.
  • Bromelain is an enzyme present in fresh pineapples, this enzyme helps in reducing the swelling in the inflammatory conditions like gout, arthritis, sore throat and acute sinusitis.
  • The enzymes in pineapple are helpful to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Helps reducing blood clotting which may help to avoid strokes and heart attacks.
  • Pineapples are often used to cure throat infections and bronchitis.
  • It is helpful in the treatment of anemia and arteriosclerosis.
  • It helps to reduce periodontal disease and gingivitis.
         There are two more non-health related benefits:
o    It is a natural tenderizer for poultry and meat.               
o    It is wonderful in Piñas Coladas.                                          
Who could say no to a Piña Colada?  Especially while being on vacation?

  Passion Fruit or Maracuya 
This fruit besides having a great taste has been used as medical aid by many natural health practitioners around the world due to their  sedative, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties.

It is known to help as:
- Pain reliever     
- Reduces anxiety      
- Reduces inflammation      
- Works as tranquilizer    
- Relieves depression      
- Reduces spasms 
- Clears urinary infections
When you eat Passion Fruit or Maracuya your body receives vitamin A, B2, and vitamin C.  It also provides you with valuable proteins, minerals, iron, calcium, and carbohydrates.  It seems like a tasty way to get your nutritional supplements.

Mango may not be a super fruit but is one of those awesome fruits that make you feel good when you eat it and after you have eaten them too.
Nevertheless, mangoes are full of vitamins A and C, potassium, and beta-carotene.
My husband love mangos an asked me to include them in this list not because it is a Super-fruit but because of its super-taste.
Many people in Costa Rica consider them a “comfort food” because they make you feel good when you eat them, the reason why you feel good is because the mango contains tryptophan, an amino-acid precursor of the serotonin, so called ”happiness hormone”.
Moreover, this delicious fruit contains enzymes very similar to the papain, found in the papaya; these enzymes stimulate your metabolism and purify your digestive system.

There are two most common types of mango
·   Manga: is how we call it in Costa Rica, this is a
   larger mango, that shows a rainbow of colors
   from green, yellow and red, they have almost no
   fibers that can get stuck in your teeth, and they
   are sweet and wonderful.
·      Mango: is the little mango, when is ripe is yellow with no other shade or color; this is a very fibrous fruit.  One of our local friends takes them in her hand and rolls them to smooth the pulp inside without breaking the outer flesh, then makes a little hole on the bottom and squeezes it directly into her mouth.  “What a way to enjoy mango juice, all of the flavors with none of the fibers.”

There are so many delicious tropical fruits in Costa Rica, and each one of them have some health value; the truth is that if you choose to eat what mother nature offers to you instead what the fast food industry promotes, you would become a healthier, more alert and happier human being. 
Costa Rica is saving this gift for your visit, and it has no expiration date. 
I have already accepted these gifts, and I can feel the difference.

If you would like to learn more about tropical fruits, flowers, plants and gardening, check on this website
it is a great farm and educational center. Ed Bernhardt, N.D. has 20 years experience in Costa Rican tropical healing gifts from mother nature.

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