Dragon fruit might look too exotic to add to your meals at first glance. That’s why we decided to debunk this stereotype and prevent you from missing out on so many interesting dishes. We will explain how to open dragon fruit, what it goes well with, and share some food and drink dragon fruit recipes.
Dragon fruit (also known as pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear) is a fruit that grows on the Hylocereus cactus. Dragon fruit comes from Central and Southern America, but now you can find it all over the world. It grows in tropical and subtropical climates, including the Southern states of the USA, Mexico, Asian countries, and Australia.
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The most common type of dragonfruit is the one with red skin, white flesh, and tiny black seeds. It is also the sweetest variation of dragon fruit. Pitaya with pink flesh and black seeds contains less fructose and is not so sweet. The yellow type of dragon fruit is the smallest variation that also is rather sweet.
Dragon fruit is excellent for weight loss and would fit any healthy diet. You can eat it daily or from time to time without worrying about gaining extra pounds or other side effects.
Let's take a look at the nutritional value of dragon fruit first. One serving (1 cup or 5 ounces) of dragon fruit contains1USDA Food Data Central. (2019, April 1) [HISTORICAL RECORD]: DRAGON FRUIT. USDA. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/411576/nutrients:
Here are the additional reasons to add dragon fruit to your nutriment:
Fresh dragon fruit contains decent amounts of vitamins C and E. It also you with Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium1USDA Food Data Central. (2019, April 1) [HISTORICAL RECORD]: DRAGON FRUIT. USDA. Retrieved from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/411576/nutrients.
Dragon fruit contains three types of antioxidants: betalains, hydroxycinnamates, and flavonoids. They improve your immune system, prevent you from aging, and are beneficial to multiple organs, including the brain and heart2Rebecca O.P.S., Boyce A.N., Chandran S. (2010). Pigment identification and antioxidant properties of red dragon fruit (Hylocereus polyrhizus). African Journal of Biotechnology DOI:10.5897/AJB09.1603.
There are only two cases of reported mild allergic reactions to dragon fruit3Andreas Kleinheinz, MD Ute Lepp, MD, Björn M. Hausen, MD Arnd Petersen, PhD Wolf-Meinhard Becker, PhD. (2009, July 13). Anaphylactic reaction to (mixed) fruit juice containing dragon fruit. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. DOI:10.1016/j.jaci.2009.05.025. It is a very low rate and makes your chances of an allergy to pitaya almost non-existent.
There is beta-carotene that gives dragon fruit its bright pink or yellow color. Apart from being a pigment, this is also an antioxidant that lowers the risk of cataracts and eye muscle degeneration4Charoensiri R., Kongkachuichai R., Suknicom S., Sungpuag P. (2009, March 1). Beta-carotene, lycopene, and alpha-tocopherol contents of selected Thai fruits. Food Chemistry. DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.07.074.
Fiber and prebiotic bacteria that dragon fruit contains help you to digest harder products. As a result, it prevents constipation5Wichienchota S., Jatupornpipatb M., Rastallc R.A. (2010, June 1). Oligosaccharides of pitaya (dragon fruit) flesh and their prebiotic properties. Food Chemistry. DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2009.11.026.
Fructose is as sweet as sugar but doesn't cause blood sugar level fluctuation. Moreover, dragon fruit is proven to perform a glycemic control function. It reduces blood sural levels and is beneficial to people with pre-diabetic and type 2 diabetes6Poolsup, N., Suksomboon, N., & Paw, N. J. (2017, September 8). Effect of dragon fruit on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS One. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0184577.
It contains lycopene that improves your cardiovascular health. Additionally, dragon fruit seeds are a source of linoleic and linolenic acids, which lower bad cholesterol and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease7Luu T.T.H., Le T.L., Huynh N., Quintela-Alonso P. (2021). Dragon fruit: A review of health benefits and nutrients and its sustainable development under climate changes in Vietnam. Czech J. Food Sci. DOI:10.17221/139/2020-CJFS.
You can rarely find something complicated in a recipe which features dragon fruit, as you don't need to cook it. It is easy to put it in almost any sweet dish as pitaya's flavor is not very saturated and can go well with many other foods.
Pitaya can last long in a fridge. If you have already cut it, beret store the fruit in a plastic container or vacuum bag so it doesn't absorb other smells from your fridge. To store dragon fruit even longer, cut it into pieces and put it in a freezer.
Children love the way dragon fruit looks! Using pitaya is also an easy way to spice up your regular meals and snacks. It works especially well if you need to surprise your guests with interesting but healthy food choices.
The first indicator you need to pay attention to is the fruit's skin color. It should be bright and even. When dragon fruit is ripe to eat, it also becomes a bit soft when you touch it (like avocado).
The fruit might seem like nothing familiar to you, and it is really hard to find something that looks alike. However, most people agree that the dragon fruit tastes like kiwi and has a similar texture. You can also feel a bit of pear flavor and smell as you eat the fruit. Its taste is much simpler than it looks, making it a great dish decoration.
Some people refuse to buy dragon fruit because they don't know how to eat it and what to combine it with. But you can easily add it to familiar snacks and meals.
Try adding dragon fruit to these dishes:
There are no real rules to cutting dragonfruit, but some advice will make this process easier. First, we will explain how to open it easily.
Cut the fruit's top and bottom parts to remove excessive skin and leaves. Then you can cut it into two pieces on the long side. If the fruit is ripe, you can remove the flesh with a spoon (like with an avocado). It should come off easily. If not, peel the skin using a knife.
Then you can cut it into circles, cubes, or triangle slices depending on the dish you want to put them in. If you're going to have a separate snack, you can slice dragon fruit without removing its skin.
Well, now you are ready to taste this interesting fruit without risking wasting your money or spoiling the dish. Moreover, the benefits of eating dragon fruit should definitely motivate you to try one. Trying new approaches to preparing your favorite dishes is always great for pushing your boundaries and developing culinary talents. Bon appetit!
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