There's a world beyond the same old apples and oranges you've been buying forever. For starters, certain fruits have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and even ward off certain cancers. So, the next time you're in the produce aisle or the local farmers' market, don't pass the following fruits by.

1. Papaya. Long popular in Asian and Latin cultures, the exotic papaya deserves to appear on more Americans' tables. Why? Simply put, this long or round orange fruit is a nutritional powerhouse, bursting with vitamin C as well as folate and potassium. It's terrific blended into smoothies, diced into green salads, or topped with cantaloupe for a refreshing summer lunch or snack. 

2. Mangosteen. Touted as curing everything from migraines to cancer, the Southeast Asian mangosteen (not related to the mango) is the latest export to rock the health headlines, particularly in juice, puree or extract form. The fruit is rich in antioxidants, but many experts warn against placing too much faith in its curative powers. According to the American Cancer Society, early studies suggest it may prove beneficial to acne sufferers, and lab tests on rats revealed that the fruit may possibly slow the growths of certain cancers. But since so many health claims have been made about the mangosteen, skeptics urge consumers to exercise caution when buying mangosteen products from independent distributors.

3. Mango. The world's most popular fruit, according to the National Mango Board, the mango is rich in vitamins A and C and a good source of fiber. You can buy the fruit whole (cutting around the pit can be tricky), presliced, or dried. If you're picking the fruit at a market, look for ripe specimens whose flesh has a little bit of give to it when squeezed. Harder mangoes will take several days to ripen.

4. Kiwi. Ounce for ounce the most nutrition dense of dozens of commonly consumed fruits, the small green kiwi is loaded with healthful substances such as vitamin C, vitamin E and potassium. According to the California Kiwifruit Commission, eating a couple of kiwis each day can reduce blood clots and lower the amount of fats in your blood. Kiwis also can protect against DNA damage that may be a precursor to cancer.

5. Pomegranate. The pomegranate, full of vitamin C and potassium, has enjoyed a surge of popularity in recent years. Pomegranate juice, in particular, is chock-full of antioxidants, and according to the Pomegranate Council, several studies show that the juice shows promise in fighting prostate cancer and lowering cholesterol. The fruit itself is fun to eat. Cut open this exotic fruit and you'll find numerous juicy little red sacs that can be eaten one by one or by the handful.



The George Mateljan Foundation,

The American Cancer Society,

The American Dietetic Association,

The California Kiwifruit Commission,

The Pomegranate Council,

The National Mango Board,