Dragon fruit also known as pitaya or pitahaya is a fleshy fruit of the cactus species. The fleshy scaly fruit is native to America but available all over the world. Dragon fruit has a mild flavor that tastes like a blend of kiwi and pear. The benefits of dragon fruit are unique just like its name.
Dragon fruit is enriched with many health benefits and is used in a variety of recipes for an added scrumptious flavor. Let us discuss the nutritional values, benefits, and everything about dragon fruit.
What are the varieties of dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit is given its name owing to the presence of scales on it similar to the body of a dragon. The variety in dragon fruits is observed owing to the different colors of its skin while the inner white texture of the flesh remains constant with black seeds in it.
Based on the color of the outer skin, dragon fruit has the following different types;
- Pink dragon fruit: The brilliant blushing pink dragon fruit is the rarest of the tropical pitayas. The outer skin is of a pinkish shade while the inner leathery flesh of the fruit is white.
- Yellow dragon fruit: The yellow strawberry pear (another name for dragon fruit) is skinned yellow with a white inner containing relatively bigger black seeds as compared to the pink pitaya. This type of dragon fruit is considered the tastiest of all.
- Red dragon fruit: Rose-coloured cactus fruit is another aesthetically pleasing variety of dragon fruit. Its outer color ranges from reddish pink, and Fuschia to reddish maroon.
The differently colored types of flesh have further distinguishing varieties grown in different tropical regions.
Dragon Fruit Nutritional Value:
The nutritional value per 100 g of ripe dragon fruit contains the following;
|Nutrients||Per 100 g|
|Vitamin C||20.5 mg|
What does dragon fruit taste like?
The name of dragon fruit might build a conception of an intense sharp flavor but biting a dragon fruit can leave you in awe with its mild taste and soft pulpy texture.
A ripened pitaya has a mild sweet taste that resembles a mix of kiwi and pear and a texture similar to kiwi as well. The unripened fruit is relatively tasteless and bland.
Other beneficial constituents of dragon fruit include;
- Polyphenol content
What is the dragon fruit price in Pakistan?
Dragon fruit is available both online and in stores throughout major cities in Pakistan. The price typically ranges between 3000 PKR- 3200 PKR per kg.
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit:
Take a journey through the amazing health benefits of dragon fruit and indulge in this informative read.
1. Does dragon fruit contain antioxidants?
The dragon fruit harbors many antioxidants like lycopene, carotenoids, Vitamin C, and phenolic compounds. You will be surprised to know that its skin has even higher antioxidants than the flesh. The phenolic content, which has the most powerful antioxidant properties, is 28 mg/ 100 g in the skin, while 19.72 g / 100 g is present in the flesh.
Antioxidants help fight the free radicals in the body and are protective against oxidative stress thus, preventing many chronic conditions like cardiovascular risks, arthritis, and cancer.
2. Is dragon fruit high in sugar?
Diabetics might be considering if the dragon fruit is good for diabetes.
Surprisingly, despite being a sweet delight, dragon fruit is considered safe and effective in diabetes type 2 due to its low glycemic index (GI) of 48-52 (GI >55 is unsafe in diabetes).
Diabetes Mellitus is caused by the destruction of pancreatic beta cells which are responsible for the synthesis of insulin in the body. Dragon fruit promotes the production of these cells to help with diabetes.
The fibers stuffed in dragon fruit impart a feeling of fullness thus, cutting down the intake of heavy meals. The dragon fruit digests slowly similar to the fiber thus helps in preventing the blood sugar spikes that often occur after taking carbohydrates.
3. Does dragon fruit contain prebiotics?
Prebiotics are foods that enhance the production of beneficial microbial flora in the body which kill the invading infectious viruses and bacteria and also aid digestion and increase the fecal output.
Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates (oligosaccharides) on which the gut bacteria feed. This nourishment of the intestinal bacteria by the prebiotics (oligosaccharides) present in the exotic dragon fruit protects against the risks of infectious digestive diseases.
4. What does dragon fruit do to the immune system?
The super fruit known as the dragon fruit is an immunity booster as well. The immune system is the primary protective shield of the body, protecting it from inflammation and infections, as well as from chronic diseases.
White blood cells are the army of the immune system, but they can get attacked by free radicals. So, antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids, etc., packed in the dragon fruit strengthen the immune system by neutralizing the free radicals and, thus, protecting the body against heart diseases, diabetes, and many viral and bacterial infections.
Due to this effect, dragon fruit in dengue is also highly recommended.
5. Can dragon fruit reduce cancer risks?
Cancer is a deadly disease that is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. To fight this monstrous disease – cancer, the dragon fruits come in.
The fruit being rich in antioxidants boosts the immune system, protects against inflammation and diseases, and imparts anti-cancer properties.
The vitamin C content of the pitaya fruit boosts the immune system, preparing it to fight against infections and tumors. Phenolic compounds being a super source of antioxidants, like hydroxycinnamates, impart anti-tumor properties to the dragon fruit.
Additionally, another essential constituent called lycopene present in it reduces the risk of developing cancer, particularly prostate cancer. These antioxidants are considered effective in the treatment and prevention of cancer and the elimination of natural toxins from the body.
6. Is dragon fruit good for digestive health?
Don’t underestimate the dragon fruit because of its size, as it has some of the most amazing benefits for your gut health and the digestive system. They are attributed to the fiber, antioxidant, and probiotic content of the dragon fruit.
The fruit contains about 3 g of fiber per 100 g of flesh, which makes up almost 10% of the recommended fiber intake per day, i.e. 30 g. The fiber content keeps the digestive system healthy and increases fecal output. Fiber also helps maintain body weight.
Not to forget, the prebiotic effect imparted by the dragon fruit proves beneficial for protection against many digestive diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Dragon fruit is also considered a natural home remedy for treating constipation in both adults and children. Not only the flesh but the black seeds in the fruit are also known to have a laxative effect (facilitates bowel movements).
7. Is dragon fruit safe for heart patients?
The all-in-one dragon fruit is a golden food for the health of your heart. The fiber content, which is abundantly enclosed in the dragon fruit, is the all-time famous protective warrior against cardiovascular diseases and elevated cholesterol levels.
Betalains are the colored pigments responsible for imparting red color to a type of dragon fruit. Their effects on atherosclerotic risk factors in chronic heart diseases were studied. It is reported that betalain-rich foods reduce the lipid profile, lowering the risk of cardiovascular events.
Carotenoids present in the fruit have free radical scavenger properties, thus protecting the heart from inflammatory conditions and the risk of a heart attack.
The seeds are also very effective in protecting the heart against the risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. These tiny black seeds are rich in omega 3 and omega 9 thus benefits of dragon fruit extend to heart.
They also help lower blood pressure and regulate the heart rate, acting as the key strategy to protect against heart-related diseases.
8. Does dragon fruit make your skin glow?
When we talk about the vitamin C content of dragon fruit, how can we forget its miracle effects on the skin?
Vitamin C has antioxidant properties and boosts collagen synthesis in the skin. It also protects the skin from UV damage.
Ascorbic acid or vitamin C can be consumed in the diet or applied topically to promote healthy skin and prevent the signs of aging. Due to this, dragon fruit containing cosmetic products and serums are also widely applied on the skin.
The antioxidants in the dragon fruit clear the skin of toxins and cure acne by removing pollutants and dirt, making the skin clearer, more vibrant, and firmer.
Learn more about the foods that make your skin glow.
80% of dragon fruit is water, and hence, it acts as a good moisturizer for the skin. Add a small portion of the fruit to a vitamin E capsule and apply it to your skin for some wonderful skin benefits.
Consult a dermatologist for advice.
9. Does dragon fruit benefit eyes?
The importance of vitamin A for healthy eyesight is no more a secret. Well, the good news is that dragon fruit is rich in beta-carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A in the body – providing 50% of the total recommended dietary requirement for vitamin A.
Beta carotene is protective against light sensitivity, cataracts, and other associated eye disorders. Vitamin C infused in the fruit nourishes the cornea and maintains color vision.
10. Is dragon fruit safe during pregnancy?
If you are pregnant and are confused about whether dragon fruit is good in pregnancy or not, then grab your pitaya immediately without any second thought.
Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin B-complex, iron, and folate. It boosts the red blood cells (RBCs) and hemoglobin (Hb) production in the body and protects the fetus from birth defects. Due to this property, it is a highly recommended fruit for iron deficiency anemias.
Additionally, the calcium content in dragon fruit facilitates bone strength and boosts energy levels in pregnancy as well. Vitamin C is stuffed in the dragon fruit’s flesh which increases the absorption of iron in your body, thus complementing the benefits of dragon fruit.
In the post-menopausal phase, the potassium present in the dragon fruit protects the women from severe symptoms and complications.
Consult a gynecologist for professional advice.
Also read about the healthiest fruits to eat during pregnancy
How to cut dragon fruit for eating?
The countless benefits of dragon fruit will surely not let you pass it up if found in the market. Grab your share of the dragon fruit and make it ready to eat with the following simple steps;
- Wash – Take the dragon fruit and wash it properly to avoid any chance of contamination.
- Cut – Cut the fruit into two halves.
- Peel – Scoop out the flesh or peel the skin with your fingers as it is quite soft to do so.
- Slice – Cut the flesh into slices, cubes, and spheres (using a shaper) and enjoy as such.
- You can also blend the flesh cubes of the dragon fruit with other fruits of your choice and enjoy the mildly sweet taste of the fruit in a fruit smoothie.
Can you eat raw dragon fruit?
The versatile dragon fruit can be consumed in many unique ways. Explore the recipes of the tropical dragon fruit with us;
- Eat the dragon fruit as such to consume its amazing health benefits
- Desserts: Decorate your desserts with chunks of dragon fruit
- Smoothies: Add the fruit to your smoothies for an added heavenly flavor
- Sauce: Fish, prawns, and other sea foods pair perfectly with the mild delicate taste of the dragon fruit sauce
- Salsa: The dragon fruit goes well when added to salsa as well
- Salads: Scoop out the dragon fruit and serve it with the salad of your choice
- Jams and marmalades: The fruit peel can also be used in different dishes and marmalades. The peel can also be made into a tea loaded with some amazing benefits for health.
Hence, juice, milkshakes, savory food, and desserts all become even more scrumptious when combined with dragon fruit.
How to store dragon fruit?
The storage of this beautiful delicate fruit is no different than other such fruits like kiwi or pear.
- Dragon fruit can be stored in a cool and dry place. You can refrigerate it in a sealed plastic bag for up to 2 weeks
- If you are planning to store pitaya after cutting, lock it in an airtight container and refrigerate it. Try consuming it soon as there are chances of nutritive or quality loss.
You can consult a nutritionist for expert advice based on your health condition.
1. Can dragon fruit be eaten daily?
You can eat vitamin C and antioxidants-rich dragon fruit daily as it has plenty of health benefits. It is a low-calorie fruit also good for diabetes.
2. Is dragon fruit good for the brain?
The dragon fruit has the ability to boost the production of iron and RBCs which increases the blood flow to the brain protecting it from any sort of stroke or damage.
3. What happens if you eat too much dragon fruit?
Although dragon fruit is safe to eat daily and has a number of health benefits yet when eaten excessively, it can cause allergic reactions, vomiting, and hives (skin reaction).