The benefits of dragon fruit are numerous for us. They are full of many health benefits from helping digestion, reducing blood sugar levels to helping with cancer prevention. Beautiful tropical dragon fruits certainly sound and look exotically unique. Check out the three delicious recipes here too.
All that said I am sure many don’t even know what a dragon fruit is, so time to learn about it.
What Is A Dragon Fruit?
First of all, as the name says, it is a fruit. It is a tropical fruit called pitaya or pitahaya or strawberry pear. You will find it easily in Asia, Central America, Mexico, and South America.
That spiky skin is part of the fruit is because it is from the cactus family that is a climbing vine plant and grows best in dry areas. It grows fast and a plant can produce for more than 20 years.
Dragon Fruit Health Benefits For Your Body
Let’s learn how this fruit benefits your health in many ways.
Helps with Digestion
Also, it has a very good amount of fiber which we know is helpful for digestion, preventing constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
Can Help Prevent Cancer
It may have anticancer properties for colon cancer according to one study in 2016.
Carotene and lycopene found in this fruit are strong antioxidants linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities which help in reducing prostate cancer.
Helps Prevent Diabetes
Fiber helps digestion, but it also can help stabilize blood sugar levels. This fruit can help prevent sugar spikes after eating high glycemic index foods.
In the analysis in research of 36 prediabetes people and 109 Type 2 diabetes patients, it was noted that regular eating of dragon fruit reduced blood sugar levels. Also, prediabetics who ate more the fruit had a larger blood glucose reduction.
Immune System Booster
This fruit is full of flavonoids and vitamin C, which are very good for the immune system. So eat your dragon fruits.
Good for the Eyes
It has the ability to inhibit the growth of a protein (human cytochrome P450) found in the liver which is linked to the incidence of congenital glaucoma. Also, the beta-carotene content in dragon fruit helps prevent cataracts and macular degeneration by keeping the eyes protected from harmful free radicals. ~ According to research at the Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University, Thailand.
Dragon Fruit Trivia
- According to legend, it got its name when the fruit was puffed out in the last breath by a dragon that was defeated in a battle.
- This fruit grows on a specific type of cactus plant.
- It is called as “buah naga” in Malaysia.
- It blooms from evening to midnight so it is called Queen of the night or moonflower.
- The large, beautiful white flowers have a very sweet fragrance.
- The fruit flowers are pollinated by bats and moths at night.
- The flower only lasts for one night and then goes into producing the fruit.
- The fruit grows in 30 to 50 days.
- The plant can have four to six fruit-producing cycles each year.
- It is grown in Southeast Asia, the United States, Israel, Australia, Cyprus, and the Canary Islands.
- The first dragon fruit cactus in Hawaii was planted on a school wall by Mrs. Bingham in 1836.
- It is known as Pitahaya in Mexico which is the Spanish name for fruiting vines of Central America. It is called pitaya in Nicaragua.
- Many historians believe that it originated in Central America.
- BUT it is thought that it came from China: “Ancient Chinese legends say that the dragon fruit was created thousands of years ago by a dragon in battle who blew a burst of fire containing the fruit”. ~ American Culinary Federation Education Foundation.
- It was exported from central America to southeast Asia by French missionaries where it was called dragon fruit.
- Then it was taken to eastern and southern Asia, where the fruit is now grown extensively.
How to Select
The skin of this fruit is thick and fibrous which can be daunting, but don’t let that stop you from eating this fruit. Once you learn how to it is pretty simple.
The main thing is to select a fruit that is perfectly ripe—the bright red ones are ripe, the green ones are unripe. A few spots are fine, but avoid those with brown spots. It is best for it to be soft but not mushy. Test it by gently pressing the skin with your finger; it should push in a little, but not feel too soft.
You can get a very firm dragon fruit, but it will be a few days before it ripens for you to eat it.
Sometimes this fruit can be found in the frozen section of some grocery stores, pre-peeled and cut into cubes. This is a convenient option for a tasty snack that packs a nutrient-dense punch.
How to Store
You can place it in a glass-covered container and keep it in the fridge for up to five days. Also, you can store dragon fruits that are peeled and chopped up as described below in the freezer for up to three months.
What Does a Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
Many may hesitate to try this fruit because of its unique spiky appearance. Do give it a try.
It does come in three colors but where I live it is only to be found in one which is with pink skin with white fruit. Then there is the yellow skin one with white fruit. I hear there are ones with pink skin with red fruit which are very sweet. I looked all over the city by even going to oriental supermarkets and there were none to be found.
“Dragon fruit is very subtle, very delicate. So you want to be careful not to kill it with things that have a very strong flavor.” Jose Andres
How to Cut One
The best thing about this fruit is how you can simply eat the fruit fresh and here is how to do it.
1. First, cut the fruit in half.
Make sure you have a sharp knife; now cut it in half lengthwise.
2. Now cut the fruit out of the skin.
See in the photo how to do it. You can cut it into cubes.
3. These pieces of dragon fruit can be simply enjoyed.
Eat them as a snack right out of the skin as below or add it to smoothies, salads, and yogurt.
Tips For Eating This Delicious Fruit
With its mild flavour, it is best not to add other strong tasting fruits that will take over.
It is often eaten fresh because it tastes so good but a smoothie or a pudding or juice is tasty too.
3 Dragon Fruit Recipes
I have enjoyed spending time in my kitchen developing a number of delicious recipes. It was a fun and tasty experience. Enjoy and let me know any recipes you have made with dragon fruit.
Simple Dragon Fruit Juice Recipe
This truly is the simplest dragon fruit recipe of all. It only has one ingredient! Guess what that ingredient is.
- All you do is take the fruit out of the skin as above.
- Next, cut it up and put it in the blender.
- Now blend it on high liquefy.
- That is it, now pour it into a glass and enjoy your dragon fruit juice.
I was surprised by how tasty it was and that it didn’t need any sweetening. If you want as some might like to add a few drops of stevia.
Tropical Fruit Bowl with Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit in a bowl with mango, papaya, pineapple, kiwi, coconut and strawberries is delicious for a summer salad.
Again this is so simple just chop up the fruit and mix up and serve.
Exotic Dragon Fruit Smoothie – This dragon fruit smoothie is delicious and refreshing. This exotic fruit is delightful to make a smoothie with. Also, this recipe is vegan and gluten-free. It is a tasty smoothie which is great for breakfast or an afternoon snack.