The farms of St. Lucia are abundant in history and nutritious produce. I learned a great deal while visiting a commercial farm in St Lucia. The farmer was kind enough to let me pick and taste a guava fruit directly from the tree. The tree’s branches are so strong that they can hold a man’s weight without breaking. The guava fruit is ripe when yellow. St. Lucia’s farmers use the pulp, seeds and skin to make jams and jellies. Guava may help to lower blood sugar levels, and boost heart and immune health. It may aid in fighting cancer and reduce constipation.

The farmer informed me that it takes the pineapple plant six months to produce fruit. Bromelain which comes from the plant, is used in many natural allergy formulas. It is ripe when yellow and when one of it’s crowns leaves can be pulled out easily. Those with acid reflux should limit their intake of pineapple and all citrus fruits.

Papaya is also ripe when yellow but can be eaten when green as long as it is peeled and boiled. It is a meat tenderizer and can aid digestions.

I learned that there are more than 60 types of mangoes in St. Lucia. Mangoes have been cultivated for over four thousand years. They provide twenty different vitamins and minerals per serving: Vitamin C, B6,A,E,K,B2,B1, magnesium and potassium. These nutrients improve immunity, eye health, support cell growth and repair and aid in iron absorption.

Coconuts are grown on trees. They boost medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) and boost energy. They support heart health and better digestion. Coconut meat increases HDL (the good cholesterol) which reduces the risk of heart and diabetes diseases. Coconut oil can kill pathogens and hydrate the skin. In St. Lucia, all parts of the coconut are used including the leaves and roots for making doors, roofs, baskets, kites and straw.

Bananas are very fragile and bruise easily. The farmer stated that they use special hooked “machete” knives to cut them down from the branches and make sure not to let them hit the ground. The farmer demonstrated how the workers gather the bananas in their huge leaves and then carry the bananas on their heads. Bananas are high in fiber, vitamin C, B6, potassium and magnesium. It’s nutrients protect nerve and muscle health. They are a quick and healthy snack and perfect for those with difficulty chewing. It’s fiber lowers LDL (bad cholesterol) which reduces the risk for heart attacks and stroke. Diabetics should limit their intake of bananas due to it’s high sugar content. The people of St. Lucia are very creative and manufacture banana rum, banana wine ,banana ketchup and barbecue sauce.

It was amazing to witness how organized and innovative St. Lucia farmers are despite the lack of modern farming equipment. Their produce is eaten raw, baked, fried, boiled and grilled. They use every part of the fruit to improve their cuisine, health , economy and environment. As a health coach and nutritional counselor, I learned from the people of St. Lucia, that it is important for me to educate my clients to eat all edible parts of a fruit to benefit from all its nutrients and to cook produce in different ways (boil, grill, bake) to vary their cuisine which makes eating more enjoyable.