Tropical fruits, which are mainly grown in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 and above, are an important component of health. Fruit consumption is a key part of the FDA Food Pyramid, and most fruits contain vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals, but some tropical fruits have high concentrations of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C, making them particularly good dietary choices.
Historically, tropical fruits have also been thought to have medicinal value. Passionfruit is believed to help lower blood pressure while the bark and leaves of guava trees have been used as an astringent.
Fiber is a key component in dietary health and has been shown in improve intestinal function, help lower the risk of heart disease and regulate glucose levels. In general, tropical fruits are high in fiber, and a single serving of kumquats or sapodilla provides about 20 percent of the FDA daily recommended allowance of fiber.
Calcium, folate, iron and potassium are all found in tropical fruits, though calcium, which aids in the clotting of blood and bone growth, and iron, which is involved in the production of hemoglobin and enzymes and helps prevent anemia, are found only in small amounts.
Tropical fruits are good sources of folate and potassium. Folate, which helps regulate metabolism and may prevent anemia, is found in high concentrations in some tropical fruits, including avocado and guava, while potassium, which helps to regulate the balance of fluid in cells, is available in high concentrations in avocados, bananas, guava and passionfruit.
Vitamins A and C are found in many tropical fruits, though the levels of vitamin A, which is key to eye health, is found in only small amounts. Vitamin C, which many Americans get from drinking citrus juices, is found in high concentrations in several tropical fruits, including acerola cherries, guava, longan, lychee and passionfruit. Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant, is also important to metabolic function.