Mexican food is full of so many delicious fruits!
If you’re curious about what types of fruits you will find in Mexican food, and their health benefits, keep reading!
We’ll go through 21 fruits you’ll find in Mexican food. For each fruit, you’ll learn a bit about its nutrition benefits and how it’s used in Mexican food.
So grab your favorite fruit (mine is mango with chamoy) and let’s dive in!
While mango is super popular in Mexico, it’s not native to Mexico. Mango is originally from Southeast Asia, but has been popular in Mexico for hundreds of years. One of the most popular street snacks in Mexico is mango with chile!
While some people fear mango is too high in sugar, the truth is mango is a very healthy fruit. In addition to being a good source of vitamins and minerals, fresh mango can help manage blood sugar levels and help you stay full between meals. (1 2).
In addition to helping control blood sugar, mangoes are high in anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin C and beta-carotene (3). These nutrients may help explain why mangoes can help reduce inflammation (4).
You’ll find mangoes everywhere in Mexican food, from desserts to salsas. Probably the most popular way to eat mango, though, is to simply eat it fresh along with a spicy seasoning like tajin or chamoy.
Papaya is a very popular fruit in Mexico. Originally from Mexico and Central America, this fruit has been a part of Latin American diets for thousands of years.
People eat papaya similarly to how they eat mango, even though the flavors are completely different. Papaya is also a popular flavor for aguas frescas and shakes.
Papaya is a very rich source of beta carotene and vitamin C (5). Both of which are strong antioxidants.
These antioxidants, along with papain (an enzyme found in papaya), may be why papaya is thought to have anti-cancer properties (6). However, more research is needed on this topic. A lot of the current research looks at papaya leaf, when most of us just eat the flesh.
Pineapples are originally from South America, but they had already made their way to Mexico by the time of European colonization.
Pineapple is a common flavor for desserts and drinks in Mexico. You may see agua de piña or sweet tamales de piña as popular Mexican treats. Pineapple is also a key ingredient in tacos al pastor.
My favorite way to enjoy pineapple, though, is fresh with tajin and chamoy.
It´s great that there are so many ways to enjoy pineapple in Mexican food because it´s so nutritious. In addition to being a good source of vitamin C, pineapples may be especially heart-healthy.
It’s worth pointing out there are few human studies on bromelain and heart health, so more research is needed. But either way, pineapple is a healthy and delicious fruit to enjoy.
Coconut is one of the more unique fruits on this list because it is high in saturated fat, which is rare for plant foods.
Mexican food uses coconut in many desserts and candies, but it’s also common to find fresh coconut in fruit cups or served as is (especially at the beach!). In addition to eating fresh or dried coconut, you may use coconut products like coconut oil or coconut water.
Coconut oil is somewhat controversial in the nutrition world because it’s mostly saturated fat. Like all saturated fats, there is space for coconut oil in a healthy diet along with other unsaturated fats like avocado or olive oil.
Coconut water is a rich source of electrolytes like potassium, and may help lower blood pressure (9).
While bananas are popular worldwide, they have a special place in Mexican food as well.
The biggest difference between bananas in Mexican food and American food is that there are more varieties of banana used in Mexican food.
In Mexico or Mexican grocery stores you might see small red bananas just as often as you see the classic yellow cavendish banana.
Bananas are also a good source of fiber, which can promote healthy gut bacteria, help you feel full, and manage blood sugar.
Mamey sapote is a large orange fruit native to Mexico and Central America. The fruit is seen throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. This fruit tastes like a combination of pumpkin, sweet potato, and cantaloupe.
Like most orange-colored fruits, mamey sapote is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C.
What’s interesting about mamey sapote, though, is that researchers discovered new antioxidants in mamey sapote that have not been found in other fruits yet (13). Just goes to show how much untapped nutrition wisdom there is in our cultural foods!
Mamey sapote is a common ingredient in shakes and smoothies, although you can also eat the fruit raw.
Despite the name, black sapote is not related to mamey sapote. It’s actually a type of persimmon! The flesh of the fruit has a dark color, like chocolate pudding.
There is very little nutrition research about black sapote. But we do know that it’s very high in Vitamin C and calcium (14)!
Guavas are native to Mexico and Central America. They have a very distinctive sweet and tropical flavor.
While you can eat guava raw, you may be more likely to see guava as an ingredient in aguas frescas or desserts. Guava is also a very popular fruit for jams and preserves.
Guavas are an excellent source of vitamin C (15). Guavas also contain carotenoids, although the carotenoid content will vary depending on the color of the guava.
The prickly pear is called tuna in Spanish (the fish has a different name altogether!). These fruits are the fruit of the prickly pear cactus and can be found in deep purple, pink, green or yellow colors.
Darker colored prickly pears will be higher in antioxidants (16, 17) Although all prickly pears will be a good source of antioxidants like betalains. Betalains are the same compounds that give beets their color.
The health benefits of betalains include antioxidant activity and possible anticancer activity (18).
Prickly pears are also a good source of vitamins E and C, both of which are powerful antioxidants.
Prickly pears have a very mild flavor. You may see them in juices, smoothies, or candies in Mexico.
Tamarind is frequently used in Mexican candies and aguas frescas, creating a fun sweet and tangy flavor!
Because we mostly use it in sweets, it’s easy to forget that tamarind is a fruit with plenty of health benefits. But tamarind has been used in traditional medicine across many cultures. This is because it has many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Passionfruit, or maracuya in Spanish, is not only delicious but it may be good for your skin!
Passion fruit is rich in both vitamin C and carotenoids (21). Both of these compounds are important for skin health. Vitamin C helps your body build collagen and carotenoids may help protect your skin against UV damage (22). (Note: you still need sunscreen!)
You can eat passionfruit raw. You’ll also find plenty of drinks and treats made from passionfruit in Mexican food.
You may also hear cherimoya referred to as soursop. They’re the same fruit!
Cherimoya has a delicious tropical flavor and a creamy texture. The best way to eat cherimoya, in my opinion, is simply with a spoon (be careful to avoid the seeds).
Not only is it delicious but cherimoya has some exciting health benefits! Cherimoya is a great source of fiber and potassium (23).
In Mexican traditional medicine, cherimoya is thought to help lower blood sugar and treat diabetes. Scientific research has not closely investigated this use yet, so it’s unclear if or how this might work.
The only study investigating this effect to date did note that eating cherimoya did not cause high blood sugar, though (24). So that is potentially promising, but we have to wait for more research.
Watermelon is a very popular fruit in Mexican food. You may see it served in fruit cups with chamoy, or in an agua fresca.
Watermelon is a rich source of lycopene and vitamin C (25). Watermelon has been in the news lately due to is reported benefits for male fertility. Initial research suggests watermelon may help improve sperm quality, among other benefits to male fertility (26).
This research has primarily looked at rats, however, so more human studies are needed. But you can still rest assured that the vitamins and minerals in watermelon are beneficial!
Guanabana (aka soursop) is related to cherimoya, but they are different!
Guanabana has a more tart flavor than cherimoya. Because of this, I think guanabana makes for a great shake or smoothie!
Researchers are also investigating the possible anti-cancer benefits of guanabana. Guanabana may help inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer, but more research is needed (27). The leaves of the plant are also thought to have many health benefits (28).
Lime is a classic Mexican flavor. Unlike many other fruits on this list, you are likely to see lime served with many savory dishes in Mexican food. A squeeze of lime juice helps brighten tacos, soups, and more.
As you may know, limes are a great source of vitamin C. Vitamin C can help your body absorb iron from plant sources like beans. So that squeeze of lime on your burrito bowl is doing something!
Strawberries may not be unique to Mexico, but they are an important fruit in Mexican food!
You may see strawberries in a bionico (Mexican yogurt bowl) or aguas frescas. One of the most uniquely Mexican ways of serving strawberries is fresas con crema. Fresas con crema is a dessert of fresh strawberries served with Mexican cultured crema.
Berries like strawberries are some of the most-antioxidant rich fruits. Thanks to these antioxidants, strawberries may help promote heart health and fight insulin resistance (29). Eating berries regularly may also help protect against dementia (30).
Very closely related to the prickly pear (tuna), joconostle is the fruit of of another type of cactus.
Joconostles look like prickly pears, except slightly smaller.
They are more acidic than prickly pears and are used for medicinal purposes more than for food. You may see joconostle jam, however.
Like the prickly pear, joconostle is a good source of vitamin C and betalains (31).
Pitaya is another fruit that comes from a cactus. Also known as dragonfruit, pitaya is known for its signature shape and speckled interior.
Pitaya is a good source of fiber and magnesium (32). Magnesium can help manage blood pressure and improve PMS symptoms.
Orange is another fruit you may not specifically think of as Mexican, but that has a huge place in Mexican food.
One of my favorite Mexican salads features cucumber, jicama, and orange. Of course you’ll also find orange juice. Orange is also a commo marinade and seasoning in certain regions of Mexico.
Most of us know oranges are a good source of Vitamin C, bud did you know oranges are also a good source of folate? One orange has approximately 9% of your daily folate requirement (33). We need folate to help make DNA, and to help prevent birth defects (34).
Tejocote is a small hard fruit with a bitter flavor. Because of the bitter flavor, you’re most likely to see tejocote cooked or processed. This includes jams, fruit pastes, and canned tejocote. The most popular use for tejocote is ponche navideño (Christmas punch).
This goes to show just because a fruit is healthy, does not mean the supplement is safe. This is why as a dietitian I always recommend food over supplements.
Mexican food is full of delicious, healthy fruits.
If you’re curious how you can eat healthier while still enjoying the Mexican flavors you know and love, why not start with one of the many Mexican fruits to choose from?
Need a cheat sheet to start building healthy meals with Mexican food? Check out my Latin American Food Groups List. I help you identify Latin American fruits, vegetables, fiber sources, and more to build balanced meals. Get your copy below.