The dragon fruit is originally named ‘pitaya’ or ‘pitahaya’ and is the fruit from the genus ‘Stenocereus’ in the family Cactaceae. Sweet pitayas are mainly of three types.
- Selenicereus undatus
- Selenicereus costaricensis
- Selenicereus megalanthus
It is a tropical fruit that develops from a flower and has loads of nutrients. It helps to maintain health, but one must know the properties and benefits to understand how important it is.
Interesting Facts about Dragon fruit
The color: – The color of the flesh of this fruit decides its sweetness. White tropical dragon fruits have a mild flavor compared to dark-colored flesh fruits.
Names: – ‘strawberry pear’ or ‘pitaya’ are the other names of dragon fruit. The names ‘pitahaya’ and ‘pitaya’ originated in Mexico and ‘pitaya roja’ in Central America and northern South America. This name relates to probably tall cactus species with flowering fruit.
Types of dragon fruit: – Dragon fruits appear in four different varieties in the market viz, red skin with red flesh, yellow skin with white flesh, red skin with white flesh, and red skin with purple flesh.
Properties: – The most significant fantastic property of the plant is that it is not affected due to differences in the atmosphere but can survive every season. The plant is drought resistant and known to be adaptable.
External use in cosmetics: – In cosmetic industries, the natural pigment of dragon fruit flesh is used as a dye. Many cosmetic products contain dragon fruit pigment based on the need for the final color.
Cultivation: – It is seen that most dragon fruit is cultivated outside the US; however, the farms in California, Florida, and Hawaii have started growing the dragon fruits considering the high demand in the area. The plants were transplanted in America by Europeans.
Occurrence: – Asia is the largest market of dragon fruits worldwide. However, the other producers consist of the United States, Israel, Cyprus, Australia, and the Canary Islands.
The taste: – You might get confused about the taste of the fruit, but it tastes like a mix of a pear and a kiwi. Depending on the species, the dragon fruits are always compared with passion fruit, raspberries, watermelon, and other fruits.
Seeds of the fruit: – Dragon fruit seeds are similar to kiwi seeds, edible. It can contribute to its nutritional benefits. The seeds contain protein and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that are helpful to protect from cardiovascular diseases. They also have a mild laxative effect.
Reproduction: – Some plants self-pollinate, but some need cross-pollination to produce the fruit. The dragon fruit flowers need pollination during the night because they usually whither in the day and last only up to 24 hours; after this, the fruit develops and gets ready for picking in 30 to 50 days.
The fruit and flower: – Dragon fruits are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and iron. The flower buds of the fruit, if cooked, are edible. This night-blooming fruit produces in season throughout the summer, with August and September being their peak months. Dragon fruit grows on climbing cactus that can grow as high as 15-20 feet and live for about two decades.
The native place: – The native of dragon fruits is Southern Mexico and across South and Central America. With Vietnam being the top producer, the fruit is cultivated all over Asia.
Medicinal Use: – Taiwanese doctors are reported to recommend dragon fruits consumption for diabetic patients as it can help to mobilize the blood sugar levels.
Picking the fruits: – The best time for picking up dragon fruits is when they are mature because this is the time when it tastes maximum sweetness. The unharvested mature fruits continue to grow, but the sweetness decreases.
Consumption methods: – Dragon fruits are usually eaten fresh, but in Nicaragua, people like to make a drinking beverage from crushed dragon fruits, lime juice, and water. Another way to eat them is to mix dragon fruits with other fruits to make fruit salad and have it with a smoothie.
Growth in the world: – The dragon fruits were first exported by French missionaries from Central America to South East Asia, where the name ‘dragon fruit’ exists. The name comes from a dragon that supposedly exhaled this fruit as the last breath after defeating in a battle.
Reduces cancer risks: – The dragon fruit contains anti-cancer properties that can reduce colon cancer. The vitamin C in the fruits helps boost the immune system as it is a powerful antioxidant. It also helps protect you from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, and cancer.
Suitable for digestion: – The oligosaccharides in the fruit help the growth of good bacteria like flora which supports smooth digestion. The high fibers also help increase digestive health and reduce the risk of heart diseases and cancer.
Reduces the risk of diabetes: – The blood sugar levels are maintained because of the high amounts of fiber in dragon fruit. This avoids spikes among people who have diabetes. You can balance your blood sugar levels and avoid further medical complications by regular consumption of dragon fruit.
Suitable for the heart: – Red-colored pulp of dragon fruit contains betalains that help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). The tiny black dark seeds in the fruit are high in omega-3, and omega-9 fatty acids are suitable for the heart and reduce heart risks.
Hair: – The high content of nutrients in the fruit extract powder reduces hair damage due to hair coloring. This powder makes your hair soft shiny and improves the texture. The powder is mixed with a glass of milk once a day, making your hair thick, black, and shiny.
Helps To make the bones healthy: – You can avoid injuries or joint pain if the bone strength is good. The dragon fruit contains 18 percent of calcium, causing the bones to be stronger and maintaining one health. One glass of dragon fruit smoothie a day can help you achieve this.
Good during pregnancy: – The iron, vitamin B, and folate in the dragon fruit make it an ideal diet for pregnant women. These contents prevent congenital disabilities and supply energy during pregnancy. Its calcium helps develop the fetus’s bones, and magnesium helps fight post-menopausal complications.
Fights aging skin: – The antioxidants in this fruit treat acne, sunburn, and dry skin in conditions like poor diet and stress in people. Its vitamin C helps to make skin brighter. One can drink dragon fruit juice once a day to prevent skin issues.
Eye health: – The beta-carotene can stop eye problems such as macular degeneration and cataract. One cup of dragon fruit a day can help you out.
Boosts immunity: – The high levels of vitamin C in dragon fruits can increase the immunity level of a person. One cup of dragon fruit juice can help you to fight harmful infections.
Very rich nutrient value: – The dragon fruit serving a cup (227 gms) contains the following nutrients –
- Fat – Nil
- Iron – 8 percent
- Proteins – 3 gm
- Fiber – 7 gm
- Vitamin C – 9 percent
- Calories – 136
- Magnesium – 18 percent
- Vitamin E – 4 percent
- Calcium – 107
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