ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Dragon (Pitaya) Fruit - Nutrients, Nutritional And Health Benefits

Updated on January 1, 2016
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

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.


Dragon Fruit

Source

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 Fruits

Click thumbnail to view full-size
dragon fruit treesdragon fruit growing on the vine like cacti
dragon fruit trees
dragon fruit trees | Source
dragon fruit growing on the vine like cacti
dragon fruit growing on the vine like cacti | Source
Source

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 Fruits

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Red skinned, white fleshed dragon fruitWhite fleshed dragon fruit with irregularly scattered tiny black seedsRed skinned, red fleshed dragon fruityellow skinned, white fleshed dragon fruit
Red skinned, white fleshed dragon fruit
Red skinned, white fleshed dragon fruit | Source
White fleshed dragon fruit with irregularly scattered tiny black seeds
White fleshed dragon fruit with irregularly scattered tiny black seeds | Source
Red skinned, red fleshed dragon fruit
Red skinned, red fleshed dragon fruit | Source
Source
yellow skinned, white fleshed dragon fruit
yellow skinned, white fleshed dragon fruit | Source

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

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Nutrient
Amount per 100 g
% Daily Value
Comment
Water
87 g
NA
Very high water content
Protein
1.1 g
2.10%
 
Fat
0.4 g
NA
Contains practically no fat
Carbohydrates
11.0 g
3.40%
 
Fiber
3 g
12%
Very good source of dietary fiber
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
0.04 mg
2.70%
 
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
0.05 mg
2.90%
 
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
0.16 mg
0.80%
 
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
20.5 mg
34.20%
Dragonfruit contains more than 3 times the amount of vitamin C found in carrots
Calcium (Ca)
8.5 mg
0.90%
 
Iron (Fe)
1.9 mg
10.60%
A good source of iron
Phosphorus (P)
22.5 mg
2.30%
 
Zinc (Zn)
NA
NA
 
Source : The absolute amounts in the nutrition facts table above are averages calculated by healwithfood.org based on two primary sources: 1) FAO/Latinfoods, Tabla de Composición de Alimentos de América Latina (2002), and 2) Olaya (1991); Becerra (19

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.

Disclaimer

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.

References

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitaya
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3140125/
  • http://www.jacn.org/content/21/6/495.full
  • http://www.fruitsandgreens.com/product/export/99-dragon-fruit-
  • http://www.naturalnews.com/034163_dragon_fruit_health_benefits.html
  • http://dragon.fruit.pitaya.fruit.foodlywise.com/dragon_fruit_health_benefits/dragon_fruit_diabetes_healt/type_2_diabetes_dragonfruit.html
  • http://umpir.ump.edu.my/805/1/Lee,_Qiao_Hui.pdf
  • http://www.freepatentsonline.com/article/American-Journal-Applied-Sciences/208166316.html
  • http://www.medicalhealthguide.com/articles/dragonfruit-healthbenefits.htm

Dragon Fruit Smoothie

Red bread pudding recipe with dragon fruit or Pitaya

How to make Dragon Fruit Pitaya Ice Cream

© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Dragon fruit is a very mildly sweet fruit with a mild taste. Glad you liked the info. Thanks, Marlene and have a great weekend.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I just saw a morning talk show where they showed Dragon Fruit. They said it was great for diabetics because it's a fruit that is not too sweet. I was intrigued by this fruit and wanted to learn more. Guess what? I had a feeling you would have written a hub about it. I'm so glad you write hubs about fruits and vegetables. You're my "go to" source for this sort of information.

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Flourish, inspite of the exotic color dragon fruit tastes quite bland but has exceptional health benefits for which its worth eating. Thanks for sharing.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I don't think dragon fruit is available where I live, and that's too bad because I'd love to try it. It seems to have a lot of health benefits and I bet it tastes good based on your description. Your photo of the pink fruit is beautiful. Voted up, sharing and more!

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks for stopping by, bizzarett.

    • bizarrett81 profile image

      bizarrett81 4 years ago from Maine

      Great Hub! Very informative, I have never tried this fruit and now I can't wait to! Voted up

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Joe-thanks for the compliments, my friend. You are right, I'm in China right now but having a hard time writing hubs as you tube and some other sites are blocked. So you'll probably not find videos in my hubs till such time I go back to India and incorporate them.

      I appreciate the read and comments. Aloha and have a great day!

      @Devika-thank you for stopping by.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Informative, Voted up, Useful Interesting and a wonderfully presented hub on this topic, something new to me and you did a great job on presenting this hub.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Way to go, Rajan! Another hub masterpiece! And did this one originate from China, my friend? No matter what part of the globe you happen to be in at any given time, the quality of your writing never wanes.

      I remember seeing some of these plants in Hawai'i but would never in all my years imagine that they were edible. Thanks for sharing this incredible information Aloha!

      Joe

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @formosangirl-thanks.

      @Eddy-thanks and you have a wonderful day as well.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      So interesting as always rajan and of course voted up. Have a great day.

      Eddy.

    • formosangirl profile image

      formosangirl 4 years ago from Los Angeles

      Next time I am at an Asian market, I might just buy one to try.

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Thanks for stopping by, Susan!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I saw dragon fruit in the store the other day. I thought it was an unusual looking fruit. I'll have to buy one next time I go to the store and try it.

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @moonlake-do try this subtle tasting healthy fruit. I love it. appreciate the vote and sharing.

      @Audrey-I hope you get a chance to taste this wonderful fruit. Thanks for pinning.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      Thank you for introducing me to Dragon Fruit and all it's amazing nutrients. I'm now eager to try it. I love your hubs rajan! Pinned this to my healthy food board.

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      I have seen this fruit on the cooking shows but I have never seen it in the store or tasted it. Interesting hub voted up and shared.

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Elias-I do hope you try it now.

      @tattuwurn-thanks for your comments.

      @Carol-thanks for the read and pinning.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I have heard good things about dragon fruit....we have a water with the flavor of the dragon fruit..It is okay, but now that I know all the benefits...Thanks for sharing and it will get pinned.

    • profile image

      tattuwurn 4 years ago

      I love dragon fruit, especially the red variety. Once I inadvertently scared my sister who thought that my gums were bleeding, but I was actually the red dragon fruit.. Hehehehe. Thanks for giving props to one of my favorite fruits -- I am happy about its awesome benefits to our body. :)

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Interesting, detailed hub, Rajan. I haven't tried the dragon fruit but reading your article made me curious about it.

    • rajan jolly profile image
      Author

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      @Suzie-I came across Dragon fruit when I visited the supermarket in China as I did not come across this fruit in India. It is a mildly sweet fruit and I enjoyed its subtle taste and aroma.

      I appreciate your linking my hub to yours as well as sharing it. Thanks.

      @wnd-thanks.

      @Vickwi-eating chilled dragon fruit is a treat by itself. I just came across this fruit now that I'm visiting China. Thanks for stopping by.

      @MsDora-thanks for your visit.

      @Bill-thanks for your frank comments. I love it.

      @Anamika-yes the dragon fruit smoothie is wonderful to have, very creamy.

      @Peggy-I hope you are able to locate this amazing fruit and taste it. Thanks for all the sharing and visit.

      @Rose-thank you for your visit and comments as always.

      @Bill-thanks and its good to see you like the information on these healthy foods. Thanks for all the sharing and votes, my friend.

      @Kathryn-glad you like the info on this exotic fruit that I tasted recently and got hooked on. Appreciate your kind comments and have a great day.

      @Meg-thanks.

      @Nithya-thanks for reading.

      @Mary-Thanks for your visit and comments.

      @Thelma-thank you for taking time to read, comment and share. I do hope you get a chance to taste this fruit.

      @Hezekiah-contrary to its flamboyant appearance this fruit has a much milder taste. Quite a paradox but interesting. Thank you for reading.

    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 4 years ago from Japan

      I like dragon fruit, surprising that it has a very subtle taste though, in contrary to its appearance.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      A very informative hub Rajan. I have not tried this fruit yet, but I will surely do. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and shared. Have a great weekend!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 4 years ago from New York

      An amazing looking plant...it goes well with your amazing hub.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 4 years ago from Dubai

      A great hub about the Dragon Fruit. Informative and useful. Learned a lot about the Dragon Fruit, reading your hub. Thanks for sharing.

    • DreamerMeg profile image

      DreamerMeg 4 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Another great hub. I have never seen this fruit but will look out for it and now I will know how to deal with it.

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      Rajan,

      This is another handy article, and it's very interesting to read about this exotic fruit. I have never had it, since it isn't sold around here. But I have had a mixed fruit juice with dragon fruit in it. It looks good.

      Thank you for sharing this with us, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

      ~ Kathryn

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi rajan. I have heard of Dragon Fruit but can't remember ever seeing one. I must say it's a beautiful looking fruit. The health benefits are amazing. This is another in your long line of interesting and useful plants and fruits. Thanks so much for the education. Voted up, shared and pinned.

    • rose-the planner profile image

      rose-the planner 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario-Canada

      Hello Rajan, this was a very informative article on the health benefits of the dragon fruit. I have never tried it myself but I like the recipe videos that you have posted. Thank you for sharing this wealth of information! (Voted Up) -Rose

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have heard of this fruit but have never tasted it. It is not typically sold in our normal grocery stores. Will see if I can find it in Asian or Mexican markets. I learn so much from reading your excellent hubs! Up votes, sharing and pinning.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S 4 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      I love Dragon Fruit Smoothie and make it every time I get the fruit. Lovely Hub, voted up!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Never heard of it, Rajan, although I have to tell you, if I were stumbling around in the jungle, starving, it would never occur to me to eat this....way too ugly. LOL

      Great information as always....have a wonderful weekend my friend.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Don't think I know the dragon fruit, so thanks for the introduction. As usual, quite informative and useful.

    • profile image

      Vickiw 4 years ago

      Yum!! I love dragon fruit - especially the red ones! I ate so much of these when I was in Singapore, and I always marvel at their beauty and how cool they are on a hot, muggy day! I see them now in many grocery stores. I have never seen how they grow though, that is interesting. Good writing, Rajan.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      What a very interesting and beautiful fruit plant. Thanks for adding on to my small knowledge.

    • Suzie HQ profile image

      Suzanne Ridgeway 4 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Hi Rajan,

      Great to see you taking the interest as I did in my hub on Dragon Fruit. It really is an amazing fruit and you are so lucky to have it close by! I would love to try a recipe on the skin with this as with its Vitamin C ,antioxidants and various minerals and nutrients I could see it being fabulous in a face mask or exfoliating scrub. Cheers for a lovely, well presented article as always!! Will link this to my Dragon Fruit. Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared!