The pitahaya and pitaya are varieties of an exotic fruit of cactus species usually known in English as dragon fruit. The most common kind is a dark pink leathery skinned fruit with greenish flame shaped spikes. There are red flesh and white flesh varieties spotted with tiny black seeds, and the amarilla pitaya with yellow skin and white flesh.
Once you see the dragonfruit with its almost scaly, flame shaped spikes and flowers, it will be obvious how it got its fanciful name, but the taste is actually rather bland, similar in texture to a melon and with seeds like the kiwi fruit.
The nutritional benefits of dragonfruit
The fruit is loaded with phytonutrients which are rich sources of antioxidants, vitamin C and the B vitamins, as well as carotene, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The dragonfruit also has high amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus. The seeds are also high in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
The health benefits of dragonfruit
Anti-age – Eating dragonfruit can keep your skin firm and youthful looking due the wealth of antioxidants it contains.
Anti-inflammatory – Thanks to the wealth of antioxidants in the phytonutrients, pitaya has outstanding anti-inflammatory properties that could help prevent asthma, arthritis, gout and similar inflammatory issues.
Acne – Dragonfruit is loaded with vitamin C and makes a great topical ointment. You can mash a slice of the fruit into a paste and apply it to red areas on your skin and then rinse it off with warm water
Treat sunburn – Dragonfruit has loads of nutrients and antioxidants that moisturize skin and soothe sunburn. Combined with cucumber juice and honey, it can be used to relieve the prickly heat sensation from affected areas.
Constipation – for those who suffer from constipation, eating a dragonfruit every day can be beneficial due to the wealth of dietary fiber it contains, which is useful in improving bowel movements.
Detox – The dragonfruit is effective in helping the body eliminate toxic heavy metals and other normal functions.
Diabetes – Since the fruit is not sweet, it is suitable for diabetics, as well as containing a high fiber content that helps to regulate and stabilize sugar levels and to suppress sugar spikes.
Cancer – The vitamin C provides antioxidants to boost the immune system and the carotene content of dragonfruit is believed to provide anti-carcinogenic benefits, as well as to reduce the size of tumors.
Heart health – The fruit has a high content of antioxidants that make it great for reducing the oxidation of cholesterol as well as the monounsaturated fats that help the heart remain healthy.
Digestive health – Its high fiber content makes dragonfruit great for cleaning your digestive system, which means treating constipation and improving digestion. The flesh and seeds are rich in good proteins that will keep your body content and fortified. Regulating bowel functions with natural dietary fiber lowers your chances of conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and colorectal cancer.
Cardiovascular health – There is no cholesterol in the fruit and almost none of the unhealthy, cholesterol producing fats, which means reduced risk of developing plaque buildup in veins and arteries. The seeds contain healthy types of fat, which boost HDL cholesterol that actively lower the amount of unhealthy LDL cholesterol.
Immunity – Perhaps the best thing about dragonfruit is its ability to give your immunity a huge boost. It has an abundance of vitamin C which is one of the most powerful components of your body’s immune system and it also stimulates other antioxidant activities to find and neutralize free radicals, which have been linked to potentially fatal diseases, including cancer and others.
Respiratory system health – The abundance of Vitamin C and antioxidants in pitaya make the fruit beneficial for treating respiratory issues such as bronchitis, asthma or wheezing.
Tips for consumption of dragonfruit
To choose a fully-ripe pink or bright red dragonfruit, press the flesh and if you make a slight indentation, it is likely to be ripe enough to eat. They are best to be served chilled and then cut into cubes or also blended and consumed in the form of a delicious smoothie. It’s easy to make sorbet for a hot summer day treat.
Dragonfruit is quite simply a very pleasant fruit which has no health risks associated with its consumption. In fact, studies have shown that even pregnant women and those breastfeeding can eat it without any negative reactions.