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GlobePreneurs Love: Rambutan Fruits (Asia)

The GlobePreneur lifestyle can be very challenging. But we have the opportunity to savor exotic foods around the world. Our GlobePreneurs Love series brings you a ‘taste’ of some of the amazing experiences, fruits and cuisines from different corners of the globe.

I like to travel to Asia to enjoy the tropical fruits, while undertaking business and travels. What are your favorite tropical fruits? One of my favorite fruits is the rambutan (‘Nephelium Lappaceumis’), which is native to many countries in Asia, such as Malaysia and Indonesia. It has also been grown in Australia, the Americas and in places of warm weather.

 

Rambutan season generally occurs twice a year, usually from approximately June to August and December to January. In Vietnam, rambutans cost approximately USD$1.50 – 2.00/kg when in season.

They are also available in Asian markets in the U.S., Australia and other Western countries (for approximately USD$2-5/LB, depending on your location). We can also purchase them as canned fruits, which may be convenient, cost effective when they are not in season, especially in their non-native countries.

The Difference Rambutan, Lychee and Logan Fruits

The rambutan is similar to its ‘close relatives,’ the lychee and the longan fruit, especially with its transparent-whitish flesh and the seed in the middle. While they are similar, the outer cover or shell sets these three fruits apart.

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The rambutan fruit can be easily identified because of its green and red spikes that resemble hair. In fact, the name “Rambutan” comes from the Malay word for “hair.” There are also difference in nutritional values, which will be discussed in later articles.

How to Eat Rambutans

Rambutan fruits are usually eaten raw, sometimes freshly picked from the tree. Simply remove the skin by lightly pinching the fruit until the peel breaks in the middle. Discard the peel and eat around the seed in the middle. You can also use a knife to separate the flesh from the seed.

Rambutans are used to make smoothies, curry, crumbles, salads, cocktails, soup and many more. Some information can be found here and recipes and be found here.

Health Benefits of Rambutans

The rambutan fruit is a conglomeration of vitamins and minerals, all encased in a sweet and juicy little package.

Rambutan fruit benefits include:

  1. High Vitamin C Content – The fruit’s high Vitamin C content helps keep our immune systems healthy.
  2. High Fiber Content – The high fiber content of rambutan aids the digestive system in food metabolism, preventing constipation. It is also low in calories, which helps promote weight loss and restrain sudden hunger pains.
  3. Antiseptic Qualities – Rambutan is famous for its antiseptic properties that help the body fight off infections. The fruit also contains high amounts of antioxidants, which makes it both antimicrobial and anticarcinogenic.
  4. Alleviates Intestinal Parasites – According to traditional Chinese medicine, rambutan can help expel parasites in the gut because of its anti-fungal properties. 
  5. Contains Phosphorus – Rambutan is a good source of phosphorus, which helps in bone formation and the maintenance of your bones and teeth.
  6. Contains Gallic Acid – The rambutan rind contains a high amount of gallic acid, which functions as a free radical scavenger. This compound helps prevent cancer and oxidative damage.
  7. Good Source of Copper – Even though the body needs only a limited amount of it in the system, copper works together with iron in keeping your blood vessels, immune system, bones and the production of red blood cells at peak condition. 
  8. Good Source of Iron– This is useful for the maintenance and the production of red blood cells.

Uses of the Rambutan Fruit and Plant

Different parts of the rambutan tree/plant can be used in lots of ways. Here are some examples:

•Rambutan leaves can be used for basic hair care.

The leaves can be used to treat fever as well.

 

•Rambutan seeds can be used to uplift your skin.

The seeds can also be used to help patients with diabetes – it helps maintain your blood sugar at healthy levels.

What are your favorite fruits from Asia? Are you a rambutan fan?

Please feel free to send suggestions to and enjoy life to the fullest around the world with Hon. Pauline Truong on Facebook LinkedInInstagram, & Twitter !

 

GlobePreneurs Love: The Jackfruit

The GlobePreneur lifestyle can be very stressful. But we have the opportunity to savor exotic foods around the world. Our GlobePreneurs Love series brings you a ‘taste’ of some of the amazing experiences, fruits and cuisines from different corners of the globe.

What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit is a relative of figs and breadfruit, and grows in tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa. While it is a fruit, its consistency is similar to that of chicken or pork. It has a fairly neutral taste when young, so it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce or seasoning you pair it with. It has a stringy consistency that works especially well with tangy BBQ sauce to make a vegan BBQ pulled ‘pork’ sandwich. Jackfruit is a healthy and sustainable vegan meat replacement and one of the big trends of 2017.

Unlike animal sources of protein, jackfruit contains no saturated fat or cholesterol, is light on sodium, and is also low in calories. Additionally, jackfruit contains fiber and potassium, both heart-healthy nutrients that we need. It’s sustainably sourced – something that today’s consumers care about and are willing to pay for.

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How to prepare jackfruit: Young vs. ripe

When Jackfruit is “young,” “green” or unripe, it has an entirely different consistency and usage than when it’s ripe. Ripe jackfruit is eaten like any fresh fruit — the only difference is that it’s an extremely large fruit. An average jackfruit weighs between 30 and 50 pounds. Once you cut through the thick, green coral reef-like skin, you’ll find a creamy white interior filled with fibrous fruit and large pits.

The flavor of ripe jackfruit is sweet and it’s typically eaten raw on its own or as part of a dessert. Young, unripe jackfruit can be found canned and also in pouches in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. This is the type that is gaining so much attention as a meat alternative. You’ll see it in tacos, burritos, curries, bowls, salads, desserts and stir-fries.

What to do with Jackfruit?

In many parts of Southeast Asia, jackfruit is served in dozens of ways: jackfruit curry, stir fry, juice/smoothies, chips, ice cream, tacos, carnitas, desserts, decor, sandwiches/burger and even baking flour. These are just a few examples of jackfruit’s remarkable versatility in the kitchen.

Young jackfruit is generally packed with some amount of water, and sometimes also salt, so give it a rinse with cold water and let it drain in a colander before using it in recipes. Then you can literally do anything with it! It works especially well with bold and spicy flavors. Add it to chilis and stews, or sauté it with onions and peppers and throw it in a pita with some za’atar. Rub it with a Mexican spice blend, sear it in a pan and then wrap it up with brown rice and avocado for a filling burrito.

Jackfruit Benefits

Jackfruit is high in magnesium, vitamin B6 and antioxidants while offering a low-carb snack or even the perfect vegan “pulled-pork” sandwich. It can be found dried and roasted, and it can be added to soups, used in chips, jams, juices and even ice cream, in addition to simply eating fresh and raw. The seeds, containing a ton of nutritional benefits, can be boiled, roasted or ground into flour. All this nutrition gives jackfruit some truly remarkable benefits, which will be discussed below.

1. Enhances Immunity and May Help Fight Cancer

Jackfruit is a vitamin C food that contains many other antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, including lignans, isoflavones and saponins. Additionally, we need to fight those damaging free radicals that enter the body daily. (1) According to Penn State University, by consuming antioxidants, we can neutralize the free radicals, which helps fight some forms of cancer and can give the immune system the support it needs to continue to manage it. In addition, a study published in the October 2012 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis found that vitamin C increased activity of an important antioxidant enzyme that helps prevent breast cancer. (2) Combined, all this makes jackfruit a potential cancer-fighting food.

2. Boosts Magnesium Levels

Magnesium is crucial for the structure of our bones. Women are especially at risk for magnesium deficiency, and it’s common for African-Americans and the elderly to suffer from low magnesium levels too.

One cup of jackfruit contains 15 percent of the daily recommended value of magnesium, making it a great choice to add to your diet, especially since magnesium can help reduce the risk of many diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, in addition to helping provide strong bones. (3)

3. Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

This robust fruit contains a healthy dose of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 falls into a category along with folic acid and vitamin B12 that may help reduce heart disease. This occurs due to lower levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid and important building block of protein.

A clinical trial known as the the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 2 including more than 5,500 adults with known cardiovascular disease learned that supplementation of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid for a period of five years reduced homocysteine levels, which decreased both heart disease risk and stroke risk by about 25 percent. (4) And while it’s uncertain as to how this affects the body, studies indicate that there may be a relationship to homocysteine and the arteries. (5)

4. Improves Digestion

Jackfruit may be a great choice for anyone suffering from constipation or issues with digestion, and it’s the seeds of the jackfruit that come in handy. The seeds contain a good portion of dietary fiber, and as we know, high-fiber foods are great because they not only help with constipation, but they help fill you up, which may contribute to weight loss.

5. Aids in Preventing Osteoporosis

In addition to bone-building magnesium, jackfruit contains calcium, which may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis, or even osteopenia, which is the onset of osteoporosis.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that our bones and teeth compile about 99 percent of the calcium found in our bodies. However, we lose calcium through our skin, nails and even our sweat on a daily basis. The problem is that our bodies cannot produce new calcium, which means we have to get it through the foods we eat. When we don’t do that, the body goes to our bones to get the calcium it needs. This is when osteopenia, which leads to osteoporosis, can occur. A serving of jackfruit contains about 6 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, making it a strong source to help stave off osteoporosis. (6)

Conclusion

Jackfruit is a versatile fruit which can be eaten as a fruit, or in the preparation of meals as a meat replacement. It tastes great and has many health benefits too. Furthermore it is a sustainable fruit and a big trend setter for 2017! Are you a jackfruit fan?

Please feel free to send suggestions to and enjoy life to the fullest around the world with Hon. Pauline Truong on Facebook LinkedInInstagram, Twitter & Pinterest!

GlobePreneurs Love: The Durian Fruit

The GlobePreneur lifestyle can be very stressful. But we have the opportunity to savor exotic foods around the world. Our GlobePreneurs Love series brings you a ‘taste’ of some of the amazing experiences, fruits and cuisines from different corners of the globe.

First in the series is the durian. The durian is a unique tropical fruit, popular in Southeast Asia, where it is known as ‘the king of fruits’ (despite its strong aroma). Durian has more nutrients than most other fruits and been used in traditional Asian medicine.

Appearance: Durian is a tropical fruit distinguished by its large size and spiky, hard outer shell. It has a smelly, custard-like flesh with large seeds. The fruit’s flesh can range in color, although is usually yellow, white or golden. Durian grows in tropical regions around the world, particularly in the Southeast Asia.

Use: Durian is used in sweet and savory dishes. Both the creamy flesh and seeds are edible, although the seeds need to be cooked. The flavor is described as tasting like custard, cheese and caramel combined. Some popular food preparations of durian fruit include: smoothies, crepes, soup, candy, ice cream and other desserts. It is also used as a vegetable side dish, and some are dried/dehydrated as chips. The seeds can boiled or roasted. The durian is  used in traditional medicine and has some medicinal properties that are currently being studied.

Nutrition: Durian is very high in nutrients compared to most fruits.It is also rich in healthy plant compounds, including anthocyanins, carotenoids, polyphenols and flavonoids. Many of these function as antioxidants per the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.

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Health Benefits: All parts of the durian plant (leaves, husk, roots and fruit) have been used in traditional Asian medicine to treat a variety of illnesses, including high fever, jaundice and skin conditions per US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health.

Studies have shown that durian fruit may have the following health benefits:

  1. Reduce cancer risk. Its antioxidants may neutralize cancer-promoting free radicals. For example, studies show durian extract prevented a strain of breast cancer cells from spreading.
  2. Prevent heart disease. Several compounds in durian may help lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries.
  3. Fight infection. The rind contains antibacterial and anti-yeast properties.
  4. Lower blood sugar. Durian has a lower glycemic index than other tropical fruits i.e. it may lead to a lower blood sugar spike. It may also prevent some glucose from being absorbed and stimulate insulin to be released.

While these studies are promising, many of them have been done on animals or in test- tubes, not humans yet.

Care: Consuming durian and alcohol at the same time as can cause problems. It’s suggested that the sulfur-like compounds in durian may prevent certain enzymes from breaking down alcohol, causing increased alcohol levels in the blood. This could lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and heart palpitations, according to some studies. To be safe, it’s best to avoid eating durian and drinking alcohol at the same time.

How to Eat Durian: Opening a durian’s hard, spiky shell often requires gloves to protect your hands, per video . The shell needs to be cut with a knife and then you can  open it with your hands. Then, gently remove the sections of durian flesh.

You can then eat it fresh on its own, paired with sticky rice or prepared. There are many recipes on the internet. The flesh is also sold frozen, which slightly changes the texture and flavor, making it looser, more stringy and less aromatic. You can also find durian in prepared foods, such as candy, smoothies, yoghurt and ice cream.

Aroma: The aroma and taste of durian fruit may be an acquired one. Some people love it, others hate it. The smell is very strong and has been described as a combination of roasted and rotting onion, sulfur, sewage, fruit and honey. Hence, it’s forbidden from many hotel rooms and public transport systems in Southeast Asia.

Conclusion: The Durian’s smell and taste is definitely not for everyone, but worth a try. For the adventurous connoisseurs and/or cook, you never know, you may end up loving it! So next time you are in Asia and/or near an Asian market, why not try some durian… it can add different flavors to your life!

Are you a durian fan? Please feel free to connect and enjoy life to the fullest around the world with with Hon. Pauline Truong on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest!

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