Extreme Newsletter—Diet and fitness tips, recipes, and motivation

Issue #046 09/14/10 SUPERFRUITS!

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Tropic Plunder: 6 Super-Healthy Exotic Fruits

By Denis Faye

Ah, the islands. Their mere mention floods the mind with happy thoughts of sun-drenched beaches, dancing to reggae late into the night, and eating healthy, exotic fruits.

Well, OK, so maybe that last fruit thing doesn't spring immediately to mind, but it should. For most, tropical fruits only come into play after they're run through a blender and doused in rum, but the truth is these colorful balls of island goodness are delicious without adding alcohol. What's more, they can actually be good for you.

Tropical Fruit

I know, I know. When you're kickin' it barefoot on the white sand a couple of latitudes south of where you are now, proper nutrition just doesn't seem all that important. But, hey, if you can eat healthy and delish at the same time, why not go for it, mon?

1. Mangos

MangosMangos are the national fruit of India, but you'll now find them growing just about anywhere tropical. Various varieties come into season anywhere between January and September. Ripe mangos are usually yellow and red, but the best way to tell if a mango is ready to eat is to give it a light squeeze and a good sniff. If the flesh gives a little and the stem smells sweet, it's probably ready to go.

One cup of mango is 107 calories, mostly carbs, with 3 grams of prebiotic fiber. Mangos are loaded with phytochemicals, as well as all kinds of micronutrients. That aforementioned cup contains 76 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin C, and 25 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. You also get some vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate. Plus you'll find 9 percent of the RDA for copper and 7 percent for potassium, as well as some magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and manganese.

Mangos also contain lycopene—an essential phytochemical that most people get through tomatoes—that's believed to ward off cancer.

There are muchos ways to prepare mangos, but the easiest—and most fun—is to slice it lengthwise as close to the large, flat pit as you can, separate both halves from the pit and each other, cross-hatch the juicy flesh with a knife, and push up on the inedible outer skin from underneath so the cubes you've made fan out for easy pickin'.

2. Passion Fruit

These tangy little South American fruits come in both purple and yellow. They're similar to the pomegranate in that you simply cut them open and eat the insides, seeds and all.

Passion FruitA University of Florida study showed that the phytochemicals in passion fruit juice, specifically carotenoids and polyphenols, proved beneficial in fighting cancer.

Because you eat the seeds, downing a passion fruit offers a nice hunk o' fiber, yet hardly any calories. One fruit, which is approximately 18 grams, contains 17 calories and 2 grams of fiber. To give you a little perspective on that, half a cup of passion fruit is about 115 calories and earns you 13 grams of fiber. But the 17 tiny calories from a single fruit will also earn you a nice little hit of vitamins C, A, and B6, as well as niacin, riboflavin, folate, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.

3. Pineapples

Admittedly, the "exotic" factor drops a little with pineapple, but they are tropical, and honestly, when was the last time you bought a whole pineapple and not just the lame canned rings? One cup o' fresh pineapple chunks is 84 calories, 2 grams of fiber, and—get this—131 percent of the RDA for vitamin C and 76 percent of the RDA for manganese. You'll also get some vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and copper for your efforts.

PineappleWhen shopping for a good pineapple, look for one that's mostly brown and yellow. Green means it's not ripe. If you smell the bottom of the fruit and the odor makes you want to sing The Pi´┐Ża Colada Song by Rupert Holmes, it's probably a winner.

To cut up a pineapple, twist off the leafy top and chop off the top and bottom of the fruit. Place the fruit on its now-flat bottom so it's stable and carefully cut off the outer skin in long, vertical strips. When that's done, quarter the pineapple lengthwise down the core, then slice out the core from all four quarters. The core makes for tough, chewy eating, so discard it unless you're going to use it in a smoothie—which is an excellent idea; the core of the fruit also contains a substance called bromelain that studies suggest has anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Guavas

No wonder the Hawaiians surf so well. They're fueled by these delicious little superfruits! The more than one hundred varieties of guava come in all sorts of colors, from yellow to orange to red, but the most common one, the apple guava, has a green outer skin that tends towards yellow when ripe, with a pink-to-white center.

GuavasYou can eat a ripe guava whole—except the stem. Chowing down on all those seeds and that skin makes every fruit a fiber party. One tiny fruit—just 37 calories—contains 3 grams of fiber. Eat three guavas, about the calories you'd get from one apple, and you're talking 9 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and a measly 24 grams of carbs.

One little guava will also earn you 209 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. Move over, oranges, there's a new ascorbic acid source in town. You'll also get some vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese.

5. Coconuts

Rarely do the words "tropical fruit" and "controversial" come to mind at the same time, unless you're talking about coconuts. There are two edible parts to this fruit (which isn't actually a nut, but rather a drupe, in the same family as the apricot and mango). You have the water and the meat. There's no contesting the health benefits of the water. The meat, which is mostly saturated fat, is another matter.

First, the water—the wet stuff in the middle when you break it open. One cup has 46 calories, mostly carbohydrates, and while it contains some vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamin B6, the real magic of coconut water is the magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, calcium, manganese, and iron. All these electrolytes make coconut water an ideal sports drink. To compare, one medium-sized banana has 422 mg of potassium. Your cup o' coconut water has 600 mg at half the calories—and no annoying peel to slip on afterwards.

CoconutsThe meat is another story. One cup of shredded coconut—about one-fifth of one fruit—is 283 calories, 216 of which are saturated fat. There's a fairly heated debate going on in the nutrition community right now about saturated fats that's far too complex to address in this article, but if you've done your homework and decided sat fat is where it's at, this is a pretty good way to get it. Your fatty cup o' nut meat also contains 7 grams of fiber and all the aforementioned vitamins and minerals.

Cracking a coconut is probably the most labor-intensive and satisfyingly destructive time you'll ever have opening a fruit. As long as nuance doesn't matter to you, the best way is to get a hammer and a nail. Drive the nail through the three little black indentations at the top of the coconut. Turn it over and drain the water into a cup. When that's done, wrap it in a towel and give it a few good whacks with the hammer. Peel the meat out of the fractured bits of shell.

An alternate way of opening a coconut is to let someone else do it for you. You'll find the water and the meat at many healthy food stores, as well as upscale markets like Whole Foods. There are several brands of coconut water available in handy little tetra packs—but frankly, you'd probably intimidate the crud out of the other team next time you played basketball if you busted out a coconut, hammer, and nail at halftime.

6. Papayas

People often confuse papayas with pawpaws but, frankly, they aren't that different. Papayas are smaller with orange flesh. Pawpaws are larger with yellow flesh. You prepare them the same way and they're nutritionally similar, so if you can't get one, buy the other.

One of the unique draws of this fruit is its digestive properties. It contains the protein-digesting enzymes papain and chymopapain, which can also help with inflammation. Papayas, like mangos, also contain lycopene.

PapayasA medium-sized papaya is about 119 calories, mostly carbs, with 5 grams of fiber. It's another vitamin C tour de force, with 313 percent of the RDA. It also contains vitamins A and E, as well as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. It's yet another great source of electrolytes, with calcium, iron, magnesium, lots of potassium, and selenium.

The easiest way to serve a papaya is like a melon. Pick one with red-orange skin that has a little give when you squeeze it lightly. Slice it open, scoop out the seeds, and you're good to go. If you want to get fancy and impress the in-laws, a squeeze of lime really brings out the flavor.

You see? Getting tropical—and healthy—is easy. So instead of trying to capture the spirit of the islands by roasting a pig on your front lawn, pop down to your local grocer and see what exotic delectables await. Just make sure you leave your grass skirt at home.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, September 20, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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"How Would You Feel If Someone Else Had to Raise Your Sons?"

By Amy Ludwig

That question got Jeremy Y.'s attention. At 33, he weighed 370 pounds. His weight affected his ability to be a good father and husband. He had no energy for his two active young sons, his wife, or anything else. Most nights, he'd do nothing at home after work but watch TV. Making things worse, he had severe ankle arthritis, walked with a limp, and took daily medication for high blood pressure.

"I truly feel like a new man."-Jeremy Y. "Before" and "After" Photos
†Results may vary. Exercise and proper diet are necessary to achieve and maintain weight loss and muscle definition.

Jeremy had let himself go, nearly all the way to death's door.

Fortunately, a good friend of his cared enough to speak up. He'd already had another friend die very young due to obesity. He worried that Jeremy would be next.

After talking with his friend, Jeremy realized that he wouldn't be the only person affected by his excessive weight if he died. How would his family manage? He made two lists, "Why Get Healthy" and "Why Not Get Healthy," and listed the reasons on each. It was clear he couldn't let his family down.

Then came the question: What to do? Jeremy had several friends doing P90X®. Not only were they getting fit, but their eyes lit up every time they talked about doing the program. Jeremy decided to try it. A former high school athlete, he soon fell in love with P90X's mix of cardio, strength, and flexibility. Its intensity fulfilled his desire for accomplishment—and then some.

Not that Jeremy was able to do all the exercises right away. He had painful arthritis from an old ankle injury. So he went to the discussion boards, where he found out how others modified the exercises to accommodate their injuries. He learned Tony's philosophy: "Do your best and forget the rest."

P90X got Jeremy burning calories and raising his heart rate, which helped him to drop weight. The variety within the program helped him avoid repetitive stress injuries. Over time, losing weight took pressure off his ankle. Now he's pain-free, no longer limps, and can do most exercises without modifying them.

"I truly feel like a new man," Jeremy says today. "My energy is through the roof." He's lost a whopping 161 pounds.

Father and Son FishingHe's active with his sons, going swimming, fishing, and to the park. His change has affected many people around him, inspiring them to exercise and eat healthily, too. Beyond all the compliments he now receives about his appearance, Jeremy is gratified to be an inspiration to others and see their healthy success.

Related Articles
"Doing the Right Thing—for the Right Reasons"
"Words of Wisdom: Energy"
"Cardio: Do It for Your Joints"

Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Chat with Steve Edwards, the overseer of Beachbody's fitness and diet development (who also serves as your Fitness Advisor on the Message Boards), in the Beachbody Chat Room on Monday, September 20, at 3:00 PM ET, 12:00 PM PT.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Submit A CommentTell A Friend Bookmark and Share

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Tony Horton and the Hollywood P.A.L.

The Hollywood Police Activities League was founded to help at-risk kids in the community stay on the straight and narrow. Athletics play a big part in their activities, and recently the kids got a special visit from Tony Horton. Click below to check out Tony's day with the kids.

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Recipe: Spicy Mango Salad

Spicy Mango Salad

Mangos aren't just for dessert anymore! This spicy recipe kicks this healthy fruit up a notch. Easy to make, and you can serve it as a side, a salad, or a salsa.

  • 2 medium mangos, peeled, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1/2 small jalapeno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 4 Tbsp. orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups baby greens, washed and thoroughly dried

Toss mangos, onion, chile, juice, cilantro, and salt to taste in medium bowl. Set aside, stirring occasionally, until flavors blend, about 10 minutes.

Place greens in large bowl. Drizzle remaining olive oil over greens and toss to coat. Add mango mixture and toss to combine. Divide salad among four dinner plates. Serve immediately. Great with veggie burgers! (Makes 4 servings.)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
126 2 g 5 g 23 g 4 g < 1 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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