Properties and Benefits of Dragon Fruit: White-fleshed pitahaya is the fruit of a tall, torch-like cactus in the Hylocereus genus. This jazzy tropical fruit is best known as the Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus), a pink-skinned variety with mildly sweet white flesh.
Dragon fruit are not only dainty, but also low in fat and calories and full of antioxidants. The fruit is particularly rich in vitamin C and heart-friendly fatty acids such as Omega-6 and Omega-9. Also, preliminary research suggests that eating Dragon fruit stimulates toxin elimination and helps ease and prevent constipation.
There are three types of Dragon fruit:
1) Yellow-skinned, white-fleshed Dragon fruit (Hylocereus megalanthus).
2) Pink-red skinned, white-fleshed Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus).
3) Pink-red-skinned, red-fleshed Dragon fruit (Hylocereus costaricensis).
All three varieties boast a mild sweet taste and may weigh between 200 g and 1.000 g. The present article deals with the properties and health benefits of the white-fleshed Dragon fruit, the most common of the three.
Dragon fruit can be eaten both fresh and dried and remain equally nutritious. Because the seeds of the fruit are spread throughout the flesh and thus cannot be carved out, the fruit is eaten whole, pulp and seeds. The peel of the Dragon fruit is not edible.
1) Eating white-fleshed pitaya can help maintain low cholesterol levels and keep blood vessels elastic. Dragon fruit are low in calories and cholesterol, making them ideal if you are watching your weight or if you are under any cholesterol restrictions. The seeds indeed contain small amounts of saturated fats in the form of myristic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and cis-vaccenic acid.
However, dragon fruits contain mostly heart-friendly unsaturated fatty acids such as palmitoleic acid (an Omega-7), oleic (an Omega-9) and linoleic acid (an Omega-6), which offer antioxidant protection to blood vessels and protect against cardiovascular disease.
2) Dragon fruit helps prevent scurvy, boosts immunity and offers strong antibacterial protection due to a relatively good vitamin C content. Depending on soil quality, which significantly influences nutrient value, one small Dragon fruit can provide about 50% of the recommended vitamin C content. Vitamin C is especially recommended to build up immunity and reduce both the frequency and severity of colds and infections.
3) White-fleshed Dragon fruit are a good source of beta-carotene as well as vitamins B1, B2 and B3. In addition to promoting eye health, the fruit ensures good energy levels.
4) As ongoing research suggests, Dragon fruit is a potent detoxifying food. Dragon fruit seeds are a good source of dietary fiber and thus stimulate toxin excretion and help cleanse the intestines from waste material and even heavy metals which can be toxic on the colon. By relieving constipation naturally, the fruit maintains colon health.
5) Dragon fruit contain a powerful antioxidant known as phytoalbumine. Research suggests that phytoalbumine can efficiently stop free radical action and thus prevent cancer-causing cell mutations. When cell damage from free radicals accumulates, cells mutate and may start to multiply uncontrollably, a process known as cancer. For this reason, it is important to include in your diet antioxidant-rich foods such as Dragon fruit as well as berries, nuts and seeds.
As healthy as they may be, the fruit may be relatively hard to find outside their area of cultivation. The cactus producing the fruit thrives in arid tropical and subtropical regions, where there is little rainfall and plenty of sunlight. One night per year, the Dragon fruit cacti bloom. Beautiful, fragrant, creamy white flowers blossom and wither just before dawn. It is a magical sight which leaves one wondering about what may lie within the brightly-colored pinkish Dragon fruit.