Many of us have come across the dragon fruit. It is difficult to miss when you see it because of its beautiful bright pink or yellow exterior. In my book, it is one of the prettiest looking fruits around, though its outside texture may look a bit intimidating.
Dragon fruits are also known as Pitaya by some. They are often available in Asian markets because for the most part aren’t grown in the States, except for a few places which have warmer/tropic weather. I believe California and Hawaii are some of these states.
Otherwise, these fruits are often imported from South East Asian countries where they are grown, in countries like Vietnam and Thailand. But you will also see them growing in Mexico as well as countries in South and Central America.
Dragon Fruit Colors and Variety
When it comes to variety, the dragon fruit or pitaya is available in 3 varieties. You have the pink colored ones. These come in two types, one of which has a white interior, and another with a more red colored flesh. It also comes in a yellow color, which is white on the inside.
When ripe, they should be sweet and have a texture similar to that of a kiwi.
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
One of the most surprising elements of the dragonfruit is that it comes packed with numerous health benefits. Here are some of the things this colorful fruit can help you with.
1. Helps Lower Blood Sugar and Prevent Diabetes
If you suffer from diabetes or want to improve you blood glucose levels, studies have shown that this fruit is able to lower the blood sugar levels in Type II diabetes. It helps by managing the blood sugar levels and keeps it from spiking up.
2. Lowers Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Risk
When you look at the nutrition facts of this fruit below, you’ll notice that it contains some fat. The good news it is the good kind of fat. Dragon fruits come with Omega-3 fatty acids which are called polyunsaturated fats. These are the good fats we want in our diets since they are helpful in fighting metabolic disorders like cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which contribute to heart disease.
3. Boosts Immune System (Rich in Vitamins and Minerals)
It also helps protect our bodies from getting sick, by boosting our immune system’s ability. The vitamins and minerals found in these fruits help us ward off viruses and infection. Dragon fruits has vitamin B1, B2, B3. It is also a very good source of vitamin C.
In addition, each 100 gram serving comes with 2 grams of dietary fiber which helps with digestion, metabolism and protects against a number of diseases. The pitaya is also a good source of iron for those who are suffering from anemia, as well as calcium for stronger bones.
4. High In Protective Antioxidants
Being a natural source of antioxidants, it helps fight against free radicals which can cause different health problems including cancer.
5. Its Seeds Contain Omega-3 Fats
Along with the vitamins and minerals, one useful property it has is the presence of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. These assist in lowering any inflammation we may have and also help with autoimmune diseases like arthritis.
6. Improves Weight loss and Cholesterol Management
As with many fruits, it is low in calories. What’s better is it comes with a healthy does of dietary fiber. This helps us get fuller faster keeping us from eating too much. At the same time fiber aids in digestion and ridding our bodies of toxins.
7. Improves Skin and Helps Against Aging and Acne
One of the most well known properties of the dragonfruit is its skin healing abilities. It comes with natural cosmetic properties that help against skin aging and provides moisturizing action for our hair as well as our skins.
The vitamin C antioxidants also help with hair color protection as well as promote in healing damaged skin. The antioxidants which fight against the free radicals help in giving you younger, tighter skin.
For those who suffer from sunburn, you can use it with honey to help soothe sun damaged skin. The vitamin B content in the fruit helps moisturize the sunburned skin.
8. Natural Treatment for Constipation
If you are suffering from constipation, eating this fruit will help you with your bowel movement. It is a great natural remedy for constipation. Its laxative power comes from its seeds which are blessed with this property.
Along with this, the pitaya also comes with a good amount of dietary fiber which helps improve digestion and bowel movement.
Other Said Pitaya Benefits that Haven’t Been Proven Yet
As with many lesser known exotic fruits, herbs and vegetables, many myths and folklore have been created or passed down by grandparents speaking of the magical wonders of certain fruits. The dragon fruit is one of them. Here are some “said” benefits. But note that these have yet to be proven and there is no proof that the pitaya actually has these properties.
- It is said to have the ability improve one’s appetite.
- It can help boost memory ability.
- It has the ability to improve vision and one’s eyesight.
- It aids in healing wounds and cuts.
What is Dragon Fruit: A Video Overview
If you’re curious about this fruit but aren’t too sure about it. Here’s a short video on how it looks, and how you can prepare it.
per 100 g (which is close to half a cup)
How to Choose the Right One
Like most fruits, you want to get something that’s just ripe. You may also get one that’s not ripe enough though you’ll have to wait a few days for it to ripen. What you probably don’t want to get is one that’s over ripe.
Choosing comes down to using your senses. The first being the sense of touch. It should be medium firm, similar to that of a kiwi. If it is too firm, you’ll need to wait for it to ripen. If too soft or has become mushy then it is probably over ripe.
You’ll also want to see bright pink or bright yellow skin, depending on the variety you’re choosing. There should be little to no blotches on the skin. As it gets older, more blotches appear. One last thing to check is the leaves, as it gets older, the tips of the leaves also start to turn brown showing its aging.
How To Eat Dragon Fruit
As intimidating as the exterior is, this is actually one of the easiest fruits to prepare. There is very little knife skill needed and most of it will only involve very basic straight cuts.
Below, we list two different methods to eat dragon fruit, which one you choose will depend on whether you are eating by spoon (method 2) or want to dice it up (method 1).
Method 1: Slicing and Dicing
This method is shown in the first video above. Keep in mind you want to remove the skin since it isn’t edible. You’ll only be eating the fruit. The seeds are edible so you don’t have to pick them out.
Here’s how to eat the pitaya:
- Using a sharp knife, cut the fruit down the middle so you get 2 halves.
- You can peel off the skin using your hands or using a large spoon to scoop the entire fruit off of the skin.
- Use your knife to slice off any residual skin from the fruit.
- From here you can cut up the fruit into small square bit sized pieces.
Method 2: Using a Spoon
This method is what’s shown in the second video just below. The dragon fruit he is cutting up is the yellow variety in contrast to the pink one seen in the earlier video.
If you’re eating it by yourself or would prefer scooping the fruit off from the skin much like you would a mango, then this is what you want to do.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Get a spoon and a knife.
- Cut the dragon fruit in half.
Then hold the half in the palm of your hand, and use a spoon to scoop out the fruit from the skin.
The dragon fruit is an exotic fruit that is very beautiful on the outside and comes with a lot of health benefits. It may be intimidating to try because of its outer shape and texture, but it is very easy to prepare and comes with a number of nutritional benefits that your body will love you for. Try it out and you might like it, maybe make it a part of your regular fruit rotation.