Have you heard of and tasted dragon fruit? Of the many types of exotic fruits that have recently sprouted, dragon fruit is one of the most mysterious and most talked-about. The fruit is native to Central America and is locally called “pitaya”. It’s also grown and exported by many Southeast Asian nations, mainly Vietnam and Thailand. It has a deep pinkish-red color with green scaly leaves, and on the inside you’ll find flesh ranging from white to deep red, with small seeds. Here are a few fast, juicy facts about organic dragon fruit.
Botanical Name – Hylocereus Undatus
Dragon fruit’s botanical or scientific name is Hylocereus Undatus, and it is available in two variants – pink and magenta, both of which offer a rather similar tasty, sweet, lightly tangy and refreshing flavor. The fruit ranges in size from 8 to 12 ounces, and it’s usually covered with scales, which are called fins or bracts.
Dragon Fruit Grows Out Of a Cactus
Pitaya is actually the fruit of a cactus plant. The climbing cactus produces a lovely yellow or pink flower, which blooms from evening to midnight, but it withers in strong sunlight. And although the pink or yellow flower dies, the cactus bears dragon fruit, around six times annually.
Tastes A Little Bit Like Lemon Or Pear
Pitaya has a quite mild taste, which is quite similar to melon in texture, and is not too sweet. It also features a quite pear-like flavor, which is great for creating stunning, brightly-colored smoothies.
Each piece, or serving of dragon fruit has around 60 calories per 100 gram serving, 1 gram of fiber and 9 grams of carbohydrate per serving. The fruit’s seeds, which are edible, are filled with heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
A number of independent studies have confirmed that dragon fruit contains a significant source of antioxidants, which can considerably prevent free-radical damage that may lead to the outbreak of diseases, as well as premature aging. The fruit is also rich in vitamins A, C, calcium, phosphorus, fiber, captin, protein and antioxidants.
It Can Prevent Diabetes-Related Complications
A couple of studies have also noted that dragon fruit has a major impact on aortic stiffness and oxidative stress, when tested on diabetic rats. The study suggests that the fruit can be very helpful at blocking the negative complications associated with diabetes.
It Can Lower the Risks Of High Blood Pressure And Heart Disease
In another study, it was noted that regularly consuming pitaya can help lessen the risks of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. And due to its lovely nutritional makeup, with its vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and fiber, dragon fruit can also enhance your skin, and make you look younger and fresher!
Dragon fruit is rich in lycopene too, which has shown to be linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer. However, it contains high levels of fructose, which is why you need to eat it in moderation, as ingesting excessive amounts of fructose can be bad for the health.