9 Unique Fruits from Around the World
Written by Jillian Kubala, MS, RD — Medically reviewed by Adrienne Seitz, MS, RD, LDN, Nutrition — Updated on November 10, 2021
Fruits are a nutritious staple in many peoples’ diets.
Which specific types you regularly eat likely depends on your geographic location and access to grocery stores.
What’s considered a common fruit for someone living in Southeast Asia or India may seem peculiar to someone living in North or South America, and vice versa.
Whether you’d like to diversify your diet by trying different fruits or are simply curious about the types of fruits found in other areas of the world, this article is for you.
Here are 9 unique and delicious fruits from around the world, some of which you may be able to find at your local specialty grocer.
durian fruits cut open to reveal pulp
Durian is native to Southeast Asia, growing in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines. In some of these regions, it’s referred to as the king of fruits (1Trusted Source).
It has a spiny, thick rind protecting its flesh, which has a creamy texture and sweet, slightly bitter taste. It can grow up to 1 foot (30 cm) long and 6 inches (15 cm) wide, but even so, it typically only offers around 2 cups (486 grams) of edible flesh (1Trusted Source).
Ripe durian has a strong, recognizable aroma that some people find overwhelming. This is due to the presence of compounds like esters, aldehydes, and sulfurs (1Trusted Source).
The flesh of durian is highly nutritious, as it’s a rich source of fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and B vitamins. It’s also packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds like quercetin, kaempferol, and luteolin (2Trusted Source).
Depending on where you live, durian can be hard to find. In the United States, you may be able to score it at specialty stores like Whole Foods. You can enjoy durian’s flesh in both sweet and savory dishes alike, such as soups, ice cream, cakes, or even side salads.
Rambutans are native to Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, though they’re also grown in other parts of the world, including Africa and Hawaii (3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Rambutan’s flesh has a sweet, slightly tart flavor and grape-like texture. Size-wise, the fruit resembles a small kiwi fruit, and it hides a small pit within. Its skin is red and covered with spines called spinterns (5Trusted Source).
This fruit contains a number of nutrients, including vitamin C and manganese. When it comes to nutrition, keep in mind that certain varieties, such as rambutan sold in syrup, can be high in added sugar (6Trusted Source).
Rambutans are easy to find in certain areas of the world like Malaysia and Indonesia but can be extremely hard to come by in others. They’re highly perishable, so in the United States, you may only be able to find them fresh or tinned in specialty stores.
You can enjoy the flesh, but avoid eating the skin or the pit. It’s a great snack on its own but also works well in ice cream, fruit salads, cheese platters, or as a tropical addition to your next smoothie or yogurt breakfast bowl.
- Pitaya (dragon fruit)
Dragon fruit is native to Mexico, Central America, and South America but is grown in many parts of the world, including India (7Trusted Source).
It’s a sight to behold, with bright pink outer skin covered in green horn-like projections. The flesh is white or pink and contains tiny, edible black seeds. It has a mild sweet taste and kiwi-like texture. The fruit is about the size of a large apple.
Dragon fruits are known for their high concentration of antioxidant compounds, including flavonoids and carotenoids. Plus, research suggests that dragon fruits may have antidiabetic effects, though more studies are needed (7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
Dragon fruit can be purchased in many areas of the world, including the United States. Some specialty stores carry them both fresh and frozen. Try enjoying dragon fruit fresh in a fruit salad or adding frozen dragon fruit to smoothies.
Maria Barbara Murru/EyeEm/Getty Images
Loquats are the fruit of the Eriobotrya japonica tree and native to Southeast China. Today, they’re also grown in many other areas of the world, including Japan, Brazil, Turkey, Italy, India, Pakistan, Israel, and Spain (9Trusted Source).
These 1–2 inch (2.5–5 cm) fruits have a sweet, bright, citrusy taste and texture that varies from crisp to peach-like depending on the stage of ripeness. The skin is also edible and ranges in color from yellow to red.
Loquats are a rich source of provitamin A carotenoids, including beta carotene. Carotenoids function as antioxidants and some, like beta carotene, can be converted into vitamin A by your body. Vitamin A is needed for immune health, vision, and more (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
If you’d like to try loquats and they’re not available in your area, you can try to order them online. Loquats can be enjoyed fresh, grilled, cooked into baked goods like pies, or made into jam.
- Lychee (litchi)
Native to southern China, lychee is cultivated in many parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, Central and South America, and the United States (12Trusted Source).
They’re small, ranging from 0.75–1.3 inches (2–3.5 cm), and covered in bumpy, red skin that should be peeled off before consuming the semi-translucent, white flesh. Lychee fruit features a grape-like texture and sweet, floral flavor.
Besides being a delicious addition to your diet, lychees are a good source of vitamin C, and studies suggest that they may have antioxidant, antidiabetic, liver protective, and heart-health-promoting properties (13Trusted Source).
However, they can cause anaphylactic and inflammatory reactions in some people, so take caution when trying them for the first time (13Trusted Source).
Depending on where you live, lychees may be readily available. In the United States, you can find them in specialty grocers and Asian markets. Lychees are best eaten fresh and can be enjoyed on their own or added to fruit salads.
- Goji berries
Goji berries are native to China. This is also where most of the world’s goji berries are produced (14Trusted Source).
They’re typically sold dried or powdered. Dried goji berries have a chewy texture and sweet, slightly tart flavor. The berries have a reddish-orange color and are the size of large raisins.
Whether they’re dried or fresh, goji berries are high in fiber, vitamin C, and provitamin A carotenoids. They likewise contain minerals like selenium and magnesium (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
They’re also a concentrated source of antioxidants like polysaccharides, carotenoids, and phenolic compounds. Promisingly, human research suggests that eating them may improve antioxidant defenses and blood fat levels in some people (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Because they’re typically sold dried, you can find goji berries in many specialty food stores, including Whole Foods and other natural markets. They’re a convenient snack food and becoming a popular addition to trail mixes and other snack foods.
Mangosteen is a fruit native to Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. Today, it’s grown in many tropical areas around the world (17Trusted Source).
Mangosteens are round and the size of a small orange. When ripe, their skin turns a deep purple color. The edible part of mangosteen is white and divided into segments. It has a sweet, tangy taste and soft, delicate texture.
This tasty fruit is high in many beneficial compounds, including procyanidins, as well as xanthones like alpha- and gamma-mangostin. These compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may help protect your body’s cells from oxidative damage (18Trusted Source).
Unless you live in an area where mangosteens are grown, it may be difficult to find these tropical fruits locally. However, you may be able to purchase them online. Mangosteen can be eaten fresh or used to make desserts like sorbets and Thai tapioca pudding.
jackfruits growing on a tree
Aldo Pavan/Getty Images
Jackfruit is thought to be indigenous to India and Malaysia. Nowadays, it’s cultivated in many other areas of the world including in Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America (19Trusted Source).
It’s considered the largest edible fruit in the world. In fact, these fruits can grow as large as 110 pounds (50 kg). They’re covered in tiny spikes and green to yellow-brown in color (19Trusted Source).
When ripe, they have a sweet taste and soft texture. Unripe jackfruit is also edible and used to make savory products like vegan jerky or other meat alternatives. For example, some products resemble pulled pork in texture (19Trusted Source).
This fruit is high in a number of nutrients, including magnesium and potassium. It’s also rich in powerful antioxidants like vitamin C and carotenoids (19Trusted Source).
While whole, fresh jackfruit is harder to find, you may be able to find several dried jackfruit products like jackfruit jerky or tinned pulled jackfruit at specialty stores or even in supermarkets if they have a plant-based foods section. You can also order whole jackfruit online.
Carambola or starfruit is the fruit of the Averrhoa carambola tree, which is native to Southeast Asia. Today, it’s grown in other areas of the world, including tropical areas of the United States like Florida (20Trusted Source).
The fruit gets its name from the star-like shape it takes when cut. When ripe, the edible skin turns yellow. The flesh has a sweet yet tart taste and crunchy, grape-like texture. They range between 2–6 inches (5–15 cm) in length.
Star fruits are high in some nutrients like vitamin C and copper. They also provide a number of antioxidants, including proanthocyanidins and gallic acid. Plus, they’re a good source of insoluble fiber, which promotes digestive health and helps you feel full for longer (21Trusted Source).
Depending on your location, star fruits can sometimes be found in specialty stores. If you’d like it but can’t find it in your area, you can order it online. Starfruit is delicious in dishes like fruit salad and can be added to savory recipes like curries and stir-fries, too.
The bottom line
If you’re like me, you likely most often purchase the same fruits when you go grocery shopping. However, it can be a great culinary experience to try different fruits whenever they’re available.
Trying out new fruits like the ones listed in this article can help expand your palate and introduce you to new flavors and textures. Plus, they’re often packed with nutrients and boast many potential health benefits.
Even if the unique fruits listed above aren’t available in your area, you can still diversify your diet simply by choosing fruits that you’ve never tried before the next time you’re at your local market.
Just one thing
Try this today: If you have a hard time using fresh fruit before it starts to turn, try keeping more frozen fruit in your kitchen.
Frozen fruit is as nutritious as fresh fruit. Plus, it lasts significantly longer and is sometimes cheaper than fresh fruit. You can also freeze fresh fruits yourself, such as bananas, berries, and peaches that have gone past their prime.
Add frozen fruits to recipes like smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods.
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