When in season, the fruits of Malaysia are such in demand that we find many cars stop by at fruit sellers manning wooden stands and make-shift stalls along trunk roads and highways that run across the fruit gardens and kampung areas of the country.
Malaysian fruits such as durians, rambutans, langsat, mangosteen, pineapples, water-melons and pomeloes are usually sold at these roadside stalls when they are in season, although they are also available at supermarkets and hypermarkets in the towns and cities. But why are we need to load up on vitamins, minerals and the spirit of warm southern climates with these luscious tropical fruits?
Brighten your day
With the choice in fresh local produce at a minimum, now’s the time to keep tropical options—such as bananas, mangoes, papaya and pineapple—on hand, as they are packed with some pretty impressive nutrients. Here’s what adding them to your daily menu can do for you.
Fresh pineapple has a protein-digesting enzyme called bromelain that helps to reduce inflammation in your body. Although you’ll need a supplement to get its full benefit, fresh pineapple is a start. Eating the fruit on its own is best; when part of a meal, its power is used up in digesting your food.
Cereal topped with a medium banana is not only a tried-and-true healthy breakfast, it could potentially make you feel happier, as it contains about one third of your daily vitamin B6 needs. B6 helps ensure that the process to convert the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin—essential for normal mood regulation—is in top working order. Bananas are also a good source of the electrolyte potassium, which helps to regulate blood pressure.
Reduce your risk of breast cancer
Get your carotenoids: Toss a cup (250 mL) of chopped mango or papaya into a lunchtime salad. Research reported in the June 2009 International Journal of Cancer found that premenopausal women who ate two or more servings of carotenoid-rich foods per day reduced their risk of breast cancer by 17 percent. Carotenoids have been shown to interfere with estrogen’s signalling ability, which may explain why the cancer-preventing effects are limited to women who still menstruate.
Protect your heart
Want a fresh way to get heart-friendly vitamin C? Toss a cup of chopped papaya into plain yogurt. It has more than 100 percent of your daily needs of this powerful antioxidant.
Care for your kidneys
Eating bananas may lower the risk of developing kidney cancer. A study of 61,000 Swedish women found that those who ate a banana four to six times a week had about half the risk of women who didn’t. Researchers say this may be the result of its high levels of antioxidant phenolic compounds.