Pitaya or dragon fruit is a very filling fruit that is appreciated both for its delicious flavor and its multiple health benefits.
Dragon fruit comes from several cactus species that grow in Southeast Asia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China, but also in Central and South America. Dragon fruit comes in three versions:
- red on the inside and white on the inside
- red on the outside and cherry red on the inside
- yellow on the outside and white on the inside
Dragon fruit is rich in fibers, antioxidants, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin C, pectin, lycopene, digestive enzymes, carotene, proteins and riboflavin.
How to eat Dragon fruit
This fruit reminds one of the arched back of a dragon. It may grow to 15 cm lenght and may weigh between 200 and 800 g.
Buy only fruit that has an intense color and no spots. It should be served after one or two hours of cooling in the fridge.
Wash the fruit, cut in halves and use a knife or a teaspoon to remove the flesh. Also, you may cut the fruit into slices or cubes.
The flesh is very creamy with many black seeds. It has a sweet, delicate taste, resembling a combination between a zesty pear and a well-ripen kiwi.
A rich source of antioxidants
Dragon fruit is a rich source of antioxidants, and it contributes to neutralizing toxic substances and reducing free radicals. Phitoalbumins found in dragon fruit have antioxidant properties and help prevent the development of cancerous cells. At the same time, phitoalbumins accelerate the elimination of heavy metals from the body, improve digestion and boost metabolism.
The fiber content
Pitaya contains 1 g fiber per 100 g fruit, so it helps maintain an ideal body weight, speeds up metabolism and prevents constipation. Studies have shown that regular consumption of dragon fruit prevents colon cancer. The fruit contains few calories (60 cal per 100 g) and may be consumed after each meal.
It helps in diabetes
The fiber content of the dragon fruit stabilizes glycemic levels. Pectin, a soluble fiber, helps reduce cholesterol and regulate blood sugar and the intestinal transit. It also has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect which helps diabetes patients fight off infections more sucessfully. At the same time, persons with a high glycemic index or a history of diabetes in the family should consume this fruit to prevent the appearance of diabetes.
It protects the heart
Dragon fruit doesn’t contain saturated fat or cholesterol, and it has beneficial effects on blood circulation and arterial tension. Studies have shown the beneficial effects of dragon fruit in reducing cholesterol due to its high content of monounsaturated fats. The seeds of the fruit are rich in fatty acids and poly-unsaturated acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6), which reduce the level of triglicerides and the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It is rich in vitamin C
, which is equivalent to 10% of the necessary daily vitamin C intake. The consumption of this fruit strengthens the immune system, helps a faster healing of wounds and sores and prevents chronic respiratory illnesses.