Photo: Fresh Cut Watermelon

by Manjari Fergusson

There’s nothing like biting into a rich and refreshing piece of fruit on a hot summer day here in Hawaii – and the more nutritionally packed it is, well, so much the better. Read on to learn about some nutritiously rich local fruits that are in season.

Mango

Mangoes contain bioactive compounds and phytonutrients which studies indicate may help in controlling body fat and blood sugar. The ‘king of fruit’ is high in fiber, vitamin A and vitamin C and has shown to reduce leptin levels. Leptin is a key hormone in regulating appetite and energy intake and output. Mangos may help in preventing conditions such as obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which in turn decreases the risk of heart disease.i

Lychee

Lychees are known to be high in antioxidants, and can help the body metabolize fat, along with increasing endurance. Studies have shown that lychees can even help prevent cancerous cells from growing. Along with these benefits, lychees contain vitamin C, B vitamins, copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, protein, and high amounts of fiber.

Watermelon

Athletes who consume watermelon juice before their workout have a reduced heart rate and less muscle soreness. A study found that this is due to L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps circulation.ii While 90 percent water, the fruit still contains a high amount of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium.

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe has many antioxidants including choline, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, and they protect against conditions ranging from colds to more serious diseases like cancer. The fruit also has high amounts of fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline, all of which support healthy hearts. Cantaloupe may also help prevent against prostate cancer due to its beta-carotene content, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health's Department of Nutrition.iii

Avocado

Avocados are chock full of nutrition, a great fruit to find vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, and riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. They also provide beta-carotene and omega-3s, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, which are vital for healthy eyes, and help to reduce the risk of macular degeneration in aging. Folate contained in avocados also helps decrease the risk of depression, and can help prevent breast cancer.

Footnotes: 
  1. Oklahoma State University Department of Nutritional Sciences, “SCI Research Finds Health Benefits In Mangos” Oklahoma State University 2008.
  2. Martha P. Tarazona-Díaz et al, “Watermelon Juice: Potential Functional Drink for Sore Muscle Relief in Athletes,” J. Agric. Food Chem., 2013, 61 (31), pp 7522–7528 DOI: 10.1021/jf400964r, Publication Date (Web): July 17, 2013* http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf400964r
  3. Wu, K., et al, “Plasma and dietary carotenoids, and the risk of prostate cancer: a nested case-control study,” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Feb;13(2):260-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14973107?dopt=Abstract