While the pawpaw tree fruit may not be as familiar to you as apples or bananas, it may be worth adding to your diet if you can get ahold of it. Not usually sold in stores, this nutrient-rich fruit is native to the eastern United States and tastes a bit like a mix between a pineapple, a mango and a banana, according to Kentucky State University.
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Major Nutrient Makeup
Pawpaw fruits vary in size, usually ranging from 5 ounces to a pound each. A 100-gram serving, or about 3.5 ounces, of pawpaw fruit provides 80 calories, 1.2 grams of each protein and fat and 18.8 grams of carbohydrates, including 2.6 grams of fiber, or 10 percent of the daily value. Fiber helps fill you up on fewer calories and may lower your risk for heart disease, constipation and Type 2 diabetes.
Vital Vitamin Content
A serving of pawpaw fruit contains about 31 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, as well as small amounts of vitamin A, thiamine, niacin and riboflavin. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, helping to keep your cells from becoming damaged by harmful substances called free radicals. You also need vitamin C for forming collagen and healing wounds.
Manganese, Magnesium and Other Minerals
You'll get a significant amount of many of the essential minerals each time you eat a serving of pawpaw fruit. For every 100 grams, pawpaw fruit provides 10 percent of the DV for potassium, 39 percent of the DV for iron, 130 percent of the DV for manganese, 11 percent of the DV for magnesium and 25 percent of the DV for copper. Potassium helps counteract the blood pressure increases caused by sodium, iron helps form red blood cells and manganese helps form bones and process cholesterol in the body. You need magnesium for proper muscle and nerve function and copper for a healthy immune system.
The skin of ripe pawpaw fruit will be light green in color and may have brown splotches like a ripe banana would, and the flesh will be soft and yellow. You can eat raw pawpaw fruit out of hand, discarding the skin and the seeds, or use this custardlike fruit to make sweet treats such as smoothies, ice cream, pudding or baked goods. Cooking this fruit for a long time or at high heat tends to destroy its flavor, but pawpaw can substitute for bananas in baked goods, according to Purdue University.
- NPR: The Pawpaw: Foraging for America's Forgotten Fruit
- Purdue University: Cooking With Pawpaws
- Kentucky State University: KSU Pawpaw Program
- Purdue University: Growing Pawpaws
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Calculate the Percent Daily Value for the Appropriate Nutrients
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber