Are you looking for an exotic fruit to try? If so then you should try something called dragon fruit. It’s usually red with a thin rind and sweet fruit. There are other varieties like purple dragon fruit. If you’re new to the fruit you should learn how to eat dragon fruit. This will give you the best experience trying out the cactus fruit that originates from the Americas. Dragon fruit gives you about 20% of your daily value (DV). It’s also high in other nutrients like fiber. As always, it’s important to know the facts about the fruit so you can enjoy it better.
How healthy is dragon fruit? As always, it’s best to separate fact from fiction. You might read different online claims that it provides health benefits X, Y, and Z. This cactus fruit is high-fiber and might provide benefits like boosted gut health and immune system. This fruit hasn’t been studied as much as others like apples and oranges but certainly is worth considering based on the nutrition facts. One of the main issues when eating dragon fruit is knowing how to consume it. Sometimes this can be a mystery and especially if the fruit looks different from more common ones.
What in the World Is Dragon Fruit?
We often think of dragons as the baddies in movies like Harry Potter 7 and Sleeping Beauty. However, sometimes there are friendly dragons in movies and sweet fruits that are named after the magical creatures.
The official name of the dragon fruit is “Pitaya” if you want to impress your friends. It originated in Mexico/Central America but is grown throughout the world today. The fruit is known for its unique look and taste.
The fruit is famous for its lovely fruit with eye-catching flowers and a strong color/shape. It’s usually dark red although there are also pink and yellow varieties. There’s also a thin scale-covered skin that covers the fruit. The sweet pulp in the middle is white or red.
Scientists aren’t sure where the plant originated from but it’s believed it probably first grew in Mexico/South America. It’s also believed the French introduced dragon fruit to Vietnam 100+ years ago. Today the fruit grows widely in USA states like Texas, as well as Mexico and various South American countries.
Today the fruit is also grown in various tropical areas throughout the world. The plant’s height can vary from a couple of inches to 20 feet (6 meters). In grows well in hot areas with heavy rain. This explains why dragon fruit grows well in tropical regions but not in cold climates.
Fun Fact: The plant’s flowers bloom at night time and often live for just one night. This involves pollination so the fruit shows. The fruit has a sweet-smelling scent that fills the area around it.
The fruit is also known for being sweet/refreshing. It can be consumed in different ways. It’s important to learn these uses since most people aren’t too familiar with the tropical fruit. It can actually be added to different beverages and foods to improve their taste and texture.
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
The process of preparing the pitaya fruit might seem tough. However, it’s very easy. You can add it to various foods like beverages, salads, and desserts. You can even enjoy the exotic fruit as a healthy snack.
When picking the fruit, you can find it throughout the year. However, the peak season lasts from summer to early fall. The spiky skin makes it easy to see in a supermarket or farmer’s market. Watch out for many blotches since it’s a sign the fruit is overripe.
Use your fingers/thumb to press the skin to test how ripe it is. It should be a little soft but not too much. It the fruit is super-firm then let it ripen for a couple of days.
There are various ways to store dragon fruit. It can sit on your kitchen counter for a couple of days. If you want to last longer then seal it in a plastic bag and then place it in your fridge. It’s important to keep it sealed so it won’t absorb the smells/flavors of other refrigerator food.
Make sure to wait to cut the fruit until it’s time to consume it. After cutting the fruit make sure to place it in an air-tight container like other sliced fruit. It’s still fresh until the fruit starts to get brown/mushy. If that happens then you have to throw it away.
Cutting the fruit is a piece of cake. The fruit’s flesh can be red or white and contains edible seeds like a kiwi fruit. First, place the fruit on a clean surface like a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut the fruit down the center. You can then separate it into 2 sections. Use a tablespoon to move the pulp from the fruit’s skin. Then remove the flesh from the skin.
Here are some applications for dragon fruit:
- Fruit juice
- Fruit salad
Top Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
1. Gut Health
In recent years studies have been focusing on the importance of good gut health to fight inflammation and other health issues. Fun Fact: The human gut has about 100 TRILLION microorganisms. It’s important to maintain a high amount of healthy germs so they can fight the bad ones.
Dragon fruit has something called “prebiotics.” This can help to increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, which can help with other issues like anti-inflammation.
2. Immune System
Stuff like Vitamin C in dragon fruit can help to boost the human immune system. It can also prevent infection and protect white blood cells. A strong immune system is important to help prevent illness and disease through a stronger body.
The antioxidants in this fruit might help to reduce inflammation and the risk of serious diseases. Antioxidants like Vitamin C can help to fight off dangerous molecules known as “free radicals.” Many studies show that antioxidants can help to reduce the risk of various diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.
Pitaya is both low-calorie and low-fat, which can help with weight-loss. It has around 135 calories or nearly 7% of the daily value on a 2,000-calorie diet. It is quite low so it makes it a good snack or dessert food that’s chock-full of nutrients.
Meanwhile, there’s also 0g of fats in a serving of the tropical fruit. This is a plus if you’re on a low-fat diet, which often requires you to consume less than 10% of your calories from fats.
The tropical fruit is quite high in magnesium and fiber. These are both important nutrients for good health. Magnesium is important for blood pressure and nerve/muscle function. Meanwhile, fiber is critical for good digestion after learning how to eat dragon fruit.