Superfoods and Exotic Fruits You NEED to Try (vegan/vegetarian/paleo friendly!)


Getty Images/iStockphoto

Healthy food clean eating selection: fruit, vegetable, seeds, superfood, cereals, leaf vegetable on gray concrete background copy space

Gabriel Brevet, Staff Writer

Looking to change up your diet this year? Here’s a list of some exotic fruits and superfoods that should make their way into your grocery list! All of these options are vegan and paleo friendly, so if you’re looking for some options for a new diet or just looking to change things around a bit, give some of these a try! (All information from WebMD, Spoon University, Health Benefits Times, and Healthline)


Exotic fruits


  • Durian

Commonly served in the form of ice cream, this exotic fruit is noted for its pungent smell and it’s bizarre appearance. The skin on a durian fruit is covered in spikes and the edible portion is stored in a pod-like system inside. This fruit is also known for its high vitamin C content and promotion of digestive, cardiovascular, and metabolic health. Many label this fruit as a “hate it or love it” type of experience, so give it a shot! It could be a new favorite with a load of health benefits to back it.


  • Jackfruit

Very similar in appearance to durian, jackfruit has become all the rage in vegan communities as a meat substitute. This fruit does not bear as many nutritional benefits as the aforementioned durian, but its mild flavor, high protein content, and specific texture have made it ideal for meat substitutes for pretty much any recipe. The most common way it’s prepared is in the form of pulled-pork, and many swear that you would not know the difference if you weren’t the one who made it!


  • Dragon fruit

The national fruit of Thailand is a little bit more common than the others and is easily recognized by its spiky pink exterior. Dragon fruit is sweet, tart, creamy, fiber-rich, and becoming a very popular ingredient for smoothie bowls.


  • Cherimoya (aka sugar apple or custard apple)

By far the most bizarre looking fruit on this list, the custard apple’s appearance looks nothing short of alien-esque. The cherimoya’s exterior appearance is almost that of a rounded artichoke and the interior is similar to a smaller and paler version of jackfruit. The sugar apple is high in antioxidants, vitamin B6, potassium, and magnesium and is known to help in fighting high blood pressure, cancer, and inflammation. The flavor is described as tropical (almost between a banana and a pineapple) and the texture is so smooth it’s typically served chilled like custard (hence the name).


  • Passionfruit

Passion fruit has become a staple for smoothies, sweet drinks, and candy across the world, but the actual fruit itself is far from ordinary. This egg-shaped red, purple, and sometimes even yellow fruit stores its edible meat portion in small, almost octopus-egg shaped pods! It’s noted as having a very similar flavor to guava with a much creamier texture and is rich in fiber and potassium.


  • Finger limes

These finger-shaped citrus fruits are growing tremendously in popularity in the culinary world due to the caviar-like appearance of their edible interior. A more distant cousin of the citrus family, these phalange-resembling fruits range in colors including green, pink, purple, and red and are described as having a similar flavor to a lime, but a bit more tart. These extraordinarily expensive fruits do not bear as many nutritional benefits as the aforementioned fruits, but are a wonderful addition to bring any dish to the next level or just to add a little kick to one’s breakfast!


  • Water apple (aka Thai wax apple)

The water apple’s exterior is more reminiscent of a pear than an apple, its interior is described as being similar to a watermelon, and the kicker is, it’s not even an apple, it’s a massive berry! This naturally occurring hybrid is described as having a flavor similar to a sweeter Asian pear with the interior texture of a watermelon and tons of anti-inflammatory properties. This fruit is not the easiest to find in the US, so if you can get your hands on one, don’t let go!


Superfoods you might not expect


  • Matcha

Matcha tea has grown tremendously in popularity in gen z and millennial diets over the past 20 years and this Japanese ground tea is gradually becoming a staple of all coffee and tea shops worldwide. A large reason behind the growing popularity of this potent green tea is its abundant health benefits. Matcha contains a significant amount of antioxidants (up to 137 times more than many other green teas!), helps lower risk of chronic diseases, helps protect one’s liver, boosts brain function and cognitive activity, is known to help prevent certain types of cancer, helps with weight loss, and promotes a healthy circulatory system. Matcha is also noted for its strong earthy flavor, but, as with any tea, there are dozens of tea leaf variations that can have sweet, nutty, rich, smooth, or even slightly spicy undertones.


  • Maitake mushrooms (Aka hen of the woods)

An all time personal favorite on this list, the maitake mushroom is not the easiest to find, but they are well worth the search! These mushrooms are commonly found growing in the woods on fallen trees (for any collectors out there) or at one’s local farmer’s market (for a more convenient approach) and are recognized by their almost feathery gray appearance. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins B and C, copper, potassium, fiber, beta-glucans, minerals, and amino acids and are low-sodium, fat-free, cholesterol-free, and low-calorie. Some of the benefits of regular consumption of them include cancer prevention, lowering cholesterol, and even improvement of type 2 diabetes! I’d highly recommend searing, grilling, or even cooking these mushrooms into a risotto or pasta. They have a mild peppery and nutty flavor that is an amazing addition to any dish.


  • Avocado

A more commonplace item of this list, avocados are an incredible source of potassium, fiber, monounsaturated fatty acids,  cancer-prevention properties and nutrients, help lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels, antioxidants, and are known to help with weight loss. A huge contributor to the popularity growth of avocados in recent years is their smooth texture and mild flavor which allow versatility in its use. Avocados can be used for everything- salads, pasta, smoothies, desserts, dips, even as a spread for toast, there aren’t many dishes it can’t be used for.


  • Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil (aka EVOO) is often referenced as the healthiest fat on earth. It contains vitamins E and K, mostly monounsaturated fatty acids, anti-inflammatory properties, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, reduces oxidation of LDL cholesterol (a key factor in heart disease prevention), improves blood vessel health and clotting, and helps lower blood pressure. Avoiding an excess of fats is important for any sort of diet, but olive oil shines as being the healthiest choice for just about any and every diet.


  • Nori (aka seaweed)

Nori is most commonly known in the US as being wrapped around sushi, but nori is another Japanese staple with a long list of benefits. Nori contains iodine and tyrosine (important for thyroid function), iron, manganese, fiber, thiamin, copper, antioxidants, may help in weight loss, improves blood sugar control (helping prevent diabetes, and may even help reduce heart disease risk. It can be used as a topping for ramen or takoyaki (small fried balls of dough and octopus), wrapped around onigiri, mochi, or sushi, and even baked or fried on its own!