Go Tropical with Super Fruits

by Karen Ansel, MS RD

Go Tropical with Super Fruits

When you shop for fruit, do you usually fill your cart with the same standbys? If the answer is yes, your family could be missing out on some of the tastiest and most nutritious fruits available! Colorful, juicy tropical fruits have a natural sweet flavor that kids love, according to Ximena Jimenez, MS, RDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Exposing your child to these flavorful fruits early in life is an easy way to increase the variety and amount of fruit they eat," says Jimenez.

If you haven't taken a walk on the tropical side, try these four unconventional picks.


Mangoes are loaded with vitamin C, a nutrient that helps wounds heal, promotes healthy gums and keeps your child's immune system strong. One-half cup of sliced mangoes provides more than two-thirds of the vitamin C children under 13 need per day. For an exotic afternoon snack, serve mango slices with a pinch of sea salt and a squirt of lime. Or, whip up a batch of mango ice pops. Simply puree fresh, ripe mangoes in a food processor, pour into ice cube trays, insert a wooden stick and freeze for a frosty 100-percent fruit treat.


Rich in fiber, guavas can help keep your child's digestive system in top shape. Just one medium guava boasts 3 grams of fiber. That's more than you'd get from a half-cup of cooked brown rice or a small slice of whole-wheat bread. For an even bigger fiber boost, puree whole guavas with the skin on in shakes, smoothies and juices.


"You may think they're a vegetable, but creamy avocados are actually an incredibly versatile fruit," says Jimenez. With heart-friendly nutrients like monounsaturated fat and vitamin E, avocados are a smart pick for cardiovascular health. Try them at breakfast for a new spin on "birds in a nest." Break one whole egg into half a pitted avocado and bake for 20 minutes in a 425°F oven. Serve with a spoonful of your favorite salsa.


In addition to being rich in vitamin A, these pink-orange fruits provide an especially potent form of beta-carotene for healthy skin and eyes. In fact, the form of beta-carotene in papayas is three times easier for our bodies to use than the kind in carrots or tomatoes, according to a 2013 British Journal of Nutrition study. Because beta-carotene requires fat for optimal absorption, pair papaya with avocados and chopped fresh mint in a sweet yet savory salad.

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About the author:

Karen M Ansel MS RD

Karen Ansel, MS RD




  • Cook healthy

    Involve your child in the cutting, mixing and preparation of all meals. Even a snack can be healthy.

  • Eat right

    Sit down together as a family to enjoy a wonderful meal and the opportunity to share the day's experiences with one another.

  • Shop smart

    To encourage a healthy lifestyle, get your children involved in selecting the food that will appear at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.

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