Dragon (Pitaya) Fruit - Nutrients, Nutritional And Health Benefits
About Dragon Fruit
Some common names for dragon fruit are :
Night blooming cereus, strawberry pear, conderella plant and belle of the night.
Dragon fruit, also called pitaya or pitahaya, is the fruit belonging to a variety of cactus species from the genus Hylocereus. These are also called sweet pitayas.
The sour pitaya is the fruit of the genus Stenocereus.
More appropriately, the sweet pitaya is called pitahaya while the sour pitaya is called pitaya.
The pitahaya or the sweet dragon fruit producing cacti are native to Mexico, Central America and South America, as well as Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Southern China and Bangladesh.
Dragon fruit is also cultivated in Hawaii, Israel, Cyprus and Northern Australia.
The pitaya or sour dragon fruit is a variety that grows in the Sonoran desert of North America and is a food source for the native Americans and the peoples of the Northwest Mexico. The sour pitaya has a stronger tasting and juicier flesh than the sweet pitahaya.
Types Of Dragon Fruit
The Sweet pitahaya or dragon fruit is of 3 types :
- The red skinned but white fleshed fruit from the plant Hylocereus undatus
- The red skinned and red fleshed fruit from the plant Hylocereus costaricensis or Hylocereus polyrhizus
- The yellow skinned but white fleshed fruit from the plant Hylocereus megalanthus or Selenicereus megalanthus.
The white fleshed dragon fruit is the most commonly available variety.
Dragon Fruit Plants With Dragon FruitsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Dragon Fruit Plant
The cacti belonging to the genus Hylocereus that produce the dragon fruit are vine like with stems growing up to 20 feet long. They can also be found growing on other plants for support and growing aerial roots in the process.
The plant blooms at night only and has large, fragrant and white colored flowers that are pollinated by bats and moths. The plant can fruit from 4 to 6 times a year.
The Hylocereus plant grows in a tropical to sub tropical dry climate. It does well in moderate rainfall areas and can only survive very short periods of frost.
Excessive rainfall or watering causes the flowers to drop and the fruit to rot.
Different Types Of Dragon FruitsClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit weighs from about 150 grams to about 600 grams
The fruit has a leathery and leafy skin with a flesh that is creamy textured and studded with lots of tiny, black and crunchy seeds throughout. It is mildly sweet tasting and especially low in calories.
The seeds are digested only if chewed and therefore to obtain the omega 3 fats they are rich in, ensure that you chew them.
Dragon fruits purify the air as they take in CO2 at night and give off oxygen.
Juice and wine is also made from dragon fruit. Tea is made from the flowers. The red colored dragon fruit may tinge the urine a reddish color but this is no cause for alarm and is harmless.
Nutritional Benefits Of Dragon Fruit
100 grams of dragon fruit provides
- 60 calories of which 18 calories are from unsaturated fats, 8 cals from protein and 24 cals from simple carbohydrates.
- No cholesterol and saturated fats.
- High in poly unsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6.
- Provides high fiber content about 12% of the daily value.
- Provides 34% daily requirement of vitamin C.
- Rich in vitamins thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.
- Contains good amounts of calcium, phosphorus and iron.
- Also contains lycopene and phyto albumins.
- Dried dragon fruit has 10 times the nutrient value of fresh dragon fruit ir vitamins and minerals.
Nutritional Value Of (Nutrients In) Dragon Fruit
Amount per 100 g
% Daily Value
Very high water content
Contains practically no fat
Very good source of dietary fiber
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Dragonfruit contains more than 3 times the amount of vitamin C found in carrots
A good source of iron
Health Benefits Of Dragon Fruit
Some of the health benefits of dragon fruit are enumerated below.
- The flavonoids in dragon fruit lower the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Dragon fruit also reduces oxidative stress and artery stiffness as found in animal studies and therefore is thought to prevent complications associated with diabetes.
- The high antioxidant levels lower the risk of many types of cancer.
- The omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation and auto immune diseases.
- The high levels of fiber help to keep the digestive system healthy, prevent constipation and aid in controlling weight.
- Vitamin B3 or niacin not only lowers cholesterol but improves skin condition as well.
- The high levels of calcium and phosphorus keeps the bones and teeth strong and healthy and the iron levels prevent anemia.
- Lycopene is beneficial in reducing risk of prostate cancer while the phyto albumins also reduce risk of cancer overall as they have antioxidant properties.
- Dragon fruit consumption has been found to increase the excretion of heavy metal toxins from the body due to the presence of the phyto albumins.
- Dragon fruit controls blood sugar levels naturally in those with type 2 diabetes.
- It is a natural appetite stimulant and can improve appetite naturally after an illness.
- Being rich in vitamin C, dragon fruit boosts the immune system, helps to reduce respiratory ailments like asthma and heals cuts, bruises and wounds.
- The protein helps to build muscle mass and boost metabolism.
- The carotene helps to maintain vision and improves memory.
- Dragon fruit is a natural thirst quencher and refresher because of its high moisture content.
- Since it is low in sugars and carbohydrates, dragon fruit is a beneficial fruit for diabetics.
No Side Effects
No side effects have been reported with the consumption of dragon fruit. It has been found to be safe for pregnant women as well as breast feeding women.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or healthcare provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
A Wonderful Hub On Dragon Fruit By Hubber SuzieHQ
- Dragon Fruit Pitahaya Fruit
The exotic Pitahaya commonly known as Dragon Fruit is one of the most unusual fruits of the world grown on cacti. Here is an introduction to Dragon fruit, benefits, how to eat them and some recipes.
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© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly
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