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Tropical Superfruit: 10 Healthy Benefits of Dragon fruit or Pitaya

7 mins read
Olena Lastivka
Written by Olena Lastivka
Olena Lastivka

Written by Olena Lastivka

Olena is a nutrition and healthcare writer, runner, and gym enthusiast. She is keen on health and fitness research, modern studies on sports and nutrition, and various physical activities. 

on October 24, 2022
Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina
Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Fact checked by Ievgeniia Dobrynina

Ievgeniia Dobrynina is the Head of Nutrition and a fact checker at Unimeal.

The Unimeal team works to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. All texts are reviewed by a panel of experts and editors and updated according to the latest research. Only evidenced-based and verified sources of leading medical publications and universities get into the article materials.

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.

Table of content

What Is Dragon (Pitaya) Fruit

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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Varieties

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 varieties
dragon fruit varieties

Nutrition facts

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 contains

  • Calories - 80
  • Carbs - 17g
  • Proteins - 1g 
  • Fats - 1.5g
  • Fiber - 3g 

Here are the additional reasons to add dragon fruit to your nutriment: 

1. Dragon fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals 

Fresh dragon fruit contains decent amounts of vitamins C and E. It also you with Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, and Potassium.

2. It is a great source of antioxidants

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 heart

3. It is hypoallergenic 

There are only two cases of reported mild allergic reactions to dragon fruit. It is a very low rate and makes your chances of an allergy to pitaya almost non-existent. 

dragon fruit nutrition properties
dragon fruit nutrition properties

4. Dragon fruit is good for your eyesight

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 degeneration

5. Pitaya improves digestion

Fiber and prebiotic bacteria that dragon fruit contains help you to digest harder products. As a result, it prevents constipation.  

6. It lowers blood sugar levels

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 diabetes

7. Dragon fruit is good for the cardiovascular system 

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 disease

dragon fruit health benefits
dragon fruit health benefits

8. Dragon fruit is easy to prepare

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. 

9. You can store it for up to 2 weeks 

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. 

10. It looks interesting 

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. 

dragon fruit foods
dragon fruit foods

When pitaya is ready to eat

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). 

ripe dragon fruit
ripe dragon fruit

Dragon fruit taste

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. 

How to Eat Dragon Fruit

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: 

dragon fruit dishes
dragon fruit dishes

Simple ways to cut dragon fruit

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. 

how to cut dragon fruit
how to cut dragon fruit

Summary

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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Unimeal does not diagnose or suggest treatments. Any description of the diet, training plan or supplement should be discussed with your current physician or nutritionist. This article does not address specific conditions and is simply meant to provide general information on healthcare topics. Following any advice is at your own initiative and does not impose any responsibility on the blog authors for your health and safety.

Sources:

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By choosing high-quality sources, we make sure that all articles on the Unimeal blog are reliable and trustworthy. Learn more about our editorial processes.

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