Dragon fruit (pitaya) is starting to pop up in most grocery stores around the country. This exotic fruit has been cultivated in several regions across the world for ages but has never really been a staple in Western grocery stores. It grows naturally in Central America though it has been cultivated in places like Thailand and Vietnam. It’s definitely a strange fruit that most people do not know much about, but hopefully, the following will enlighten you.
What is Dragon Fruit?
The name of the fruit may sound a little intimidating, but according to legend it garnered it’s name due to its exotic colors and mythical scales that appear to grow on the outside of the fruit.
The fruit grows in dry and semi-tropical regions. The plant needs a very precise amount of water, which makes the cultivation of this particular plant a little hard. Cross pollination has also proven difficult because these plants mostly rely on nighttime pollinators like bats, and these creatures are not easily controlled.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
The fruit, sometimes referred to as pitya, technically comes from a cactus species that has many growth stages. Many Westerners are blown away by its taste. The fruit is succulent, juicy and slightly sweet. Most of those who do dare to try it say that the taste is a heavenly blend between a kiwi, watermelon and a pear.
Its structure resembles an artichoke, which has heavy leaves that must be removed before the fruit can be enjoyed. Those who look at the fruit’s form along with its bright yellow and red colors automatically think of fire. So, yes, the fruit grows in semi-dry conditions and looks like fire, which makes the name a little easier to understand.
One special aspect of the plant is it blooms for one night. Some have called it the moonflower while others think it sounds cooler to say it is the queen of the night because it blooms at night. The flower bloom begins to wither when the sun hits it hard sometime in the early afternoon. Do not worry though because the plant produces the fruit about six times a year. Still, its one night only bloom makes it pretty special.
How to Prepare & Eat Dragon Fruit
Those who want to give the fruit a try can follow the steps below to enjoy it:
- You want to slice the fruit lengthwise.
- Now, you can scoop out the flesh of the fruit, and enjoy.
- Some slice the fruit one more time to make four pieces. It will be easy to peel the skin at this point.
- Be sure to eat the white part of the seed, and discard any pink parts, which are relatively bitter.
Fun & Healthy Dragon Fruit Salad Recipe
You can enjoy the fruit on its own, or you can add it to smoothies, salads, fruit salads or even top it with your favorite bread-like dessert just to make it a little more fun.
Here’s a fun dragon fruit salad recipe from SoberJulie.com that I know you’ll love.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- 2 dragon fruit
- 1 cup melon (balled or cubed)
- 1 cup pineapple
- ¼ cup raspberries
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
- 4 mint leaves (chopped finely)
Hidden Benefits of Dragon Fruit
1.) Aids in Digestion
The oil from the seeds helps improve the digestive process; in fact, some native peoples use the oil as a laxative when needed since it is pretty mild. The fruit also contains fiber, which aids digestion. Early users of the fruit actually consumed it after meals because of this property.
2.) Good for Skin, Bones & Teeth
Vitamin C can help improve the immune system and even fortify the skin since it is a vital ingredient in the production of collagen. The calcium content can help fortify the bones or the teeth, too. In short, you can get a lot of good good health benefits of dragon fruit.
3.) Helps Reduce Heart Problems
There are other properties of the fruit that should also be pointed out. The phytochemical captin content is used to help reduce heart problems. It does not hurt that the fruit also contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These ingredients have been known to be heart-friendly for years, so they are a welcomed addition, especially for those who do not love taking supplemental pills or eating fish.
4.) Great Source for Antioxidants
Okay, so now you know that the fruit is delicious and can definitely liven up your fruit repertoire, but that is only part of what this fruit can do for you. For one, you can impress some of your friends or family members by letting them know that the dragon fruit contains a high amount of phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Well, antioxidants help prevent cell damage that could lead to all kinds of problems. Cell damage usually occurs due to free radicals within the body that disrupt healthy molecules in cells. This disruption leads to the degradation of good cells, which can have detrimental effects depending where it happens. For example, skin cell damage can lead to premature wrinkles while damage to some of the cells in the eye can lead to macular degeneration.
5.) Lowers Risk of Prostate Cancer
There is evidence that one of the active ingredients in the fruit can also lower the chances of prostate cancer. It is easy to see that there are many reasons why this fruit should be recommended and eaten often.
6.) Loaded With Vitamins & Minerals
The fruit also contains a whopping 10 percent of your entire daily need of vitamin C. You will also find fatty acids, vitamin B, carotene, calcium, and a lot of protein. You have probably heard a thing or two about some of these ingredients, but perhaps you are not sure what they can do for you.
7.) Helps Manage Blood Sugar & Blood Pressure Levels
Dragon fruit makes an excellent fruit to eat if you have type 2 diabetes. Dr. Mercola states in his summary that dragon fruit has been “proven to lower blood sugar levels as well as blood pressure“. However, the fruit is still a fruit, which means that it contains fructose.
Granted, this is a natural from of sugar, but it is important to keep the consumption of fructose down to a minimum. No one is saying that you should not enjoy a little sweetness from time to time since it is vital for energy production and fat absorption. Just remember that moderation is the key.
Here’s Some More Dragon Fruit Benefits
Now, you know a little more about the dragon fruit and all that it could do for you if you consume it. You no longer have to look at the fruit in your local grocery store and wonder what it is and what you can do with it. You can choose one or a few to take home, and surprise your entire family with something new and delicious.