Tantalize Your Taste Buds with Ecuador’s Fruit
Part of the pleasure of exploring the country you are visiting is to try local cuisine and locally grown produce. The tropical and sub-tropical climate of Ecuador, along with fertile soil and abundant rainfall, ensures that there is fruit all year around, and in addition to the more well-known fruits such as oranges, strawberries, papayas and bananas (the latter being one of Ecuador’s most popular exports), Ecuador has an abundance of unusual, tasty fruit to tantalize traveler’s taste-buds and to deliver a dose of health-promoting nutrition. Some of Ecuador’s fruits can be enjoyed plucked fresh from the plant, while others are made into juices, sherbets and other treats.
Dragon fruit, or Pitahaya, is grown on a local species of tree cactus and is a favorite for eating raw and fresh. When the skin is cut open it reveals a semi-transparent, gray colored pulp with a multitude of little black seeds. It may not look very appetizing at first glance, but it is delicious – and nutritious – and is used in jams, jellies, salads, ice-creams and a variety of drinks. Among its therapeutic benefits, dragon fruit is said to enhance the metabolism, moisturize the skin, improve digestion, improve the memory and strengthen bones and teeth.
Mentioned in Chinese medical records dating back to the Ming dynasty, mangosteen originates from Indonesia, and since being introduced in Ecuador has spread all over the country. Although the main reason for eating this fibrous fruit is its sweet and tangy flavor, mangosteen has a host of health-giving properties to recommend it.
Recent studies have revealed what Ecuadorians have known for centuries, the fruit commonly known as borojó is a nutrient powerhouse credited with easing a host of health complaints and boosting energy and wellbeing. The large round fruit of the borojó tree is packed with protein, ascorbic acid (a form of Vitamin C), iron, calcium and phosphorus. It is used in the preparation of various foods and wine, and as a traditional medicine is used to lower blood pressure, ease bronchial ailments and counter malnutrition. It is also said to be an aphrodisiac. Research by the Center for Advanced Food Technology at Rutgers University has revealed that borojó has a unique polyphenolic compound, which has high antioxidant levels, that is likely the basis for the health benefits the fruit is attributed with. Studies in this regard will no doubt continue, but in the meantime, be sure to taste this nutritious fruit when visiting Ecuador.
Other fruits grown in Ecuador include mora, tomatillo, taxo, guanábana, naranjilla, granadilla, rambutan, uvilla, guama, pacay, noni, guama, mango, durian, pineapples, lemons, and orito, to mention a few.