A typical fruit with vividly described colours and enjoyable taste, the dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that has gained immense popularity in recent times. Though the main reason for its vast popularity is its distinctive appearance and taste, studies have revealed that the dragon fruit is loaded with health benefits too.
Also known as pitaya, pitahaya and the strawberry pear, the name of the dragon fruit derives from two of the most prevalent and popular varieties, which have glowing red skin and green scales that replicates a dragon. A lesser-known variety is the one with red pulp and black seeds. However, this type is uncommon in comparison to the one that has white pulp and black seeds. Biologically known as the Hylocereus cactus, which is seen to bloom only during the night, is the stay of the dragon fruit.
There is another variation which is the yellow dragon fruit. This one has a yellow outer ridge and white flesh internally with black seeds. The taste is the dragon fruit is similar to other fruits, regardless of the unique appearance. Researchers describe the taste of dragon fruit as similar to the mild sweetness of a kiwi and hybrid pear. The plant is native to Central America and parts of Southern Mexico.
Dragon fruit is said to have fewer calories, is extremely high in fibre and consists of significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. Also, dragon fruit is stocked with antioxidants. These substances are instrumental in protecting human cells from free radicals that directly impact ageing and various chronic ailments. All these antioxidants are primarily found in the pulp of dragon fruit.
Various types of dragon fruits
There are basically three types of dragon fruit which are as follows:
Hylocereus undatus (White Dragon Fruit)
Known as the white-fleshed pitahaya, it resembles a vine-structured cactus. It has bright red skin, covered under green scales and white-coloured pulp.
This variety is extensively found in South America and is cultivated for the yellow-coloured fruit.
Hylocereus Polyrhizus, commonly called the red pitahaya is found in Mexico. It is totally red in colour with red skin and red flesh and is the one loaded with antioxidants among the other varieties.
Nutritional value of dragon fruit
If we just keep aside the elegant and exotic appearance of dragon fruit, they are also a powerhouse of nutrients, extremely vital for the human body. Low in calories, the dragon fruit contains the very required essential vitamins, minerals and fibres. Perhaps, a cup of dragon fruit can replenish the following count of nutrients in the body:
The above-mentioned numbers are based on clinically proven studies and research. However, the count of nutrients in terms of their values might differ from variety to variety.
Health benefits of consuming dragon fruit
Similar to other fruits, dragon fruit also offers a plethora of health benefits. Since dragon fruits are dense in antioxidants, it naturally works as a shield to cast away all the free radicals that are harmful to our body. This results in the reduction of chronic conditions and also slows the process of ageing.
Dragon fruits also contain high content of fibre and this helps in maintaining a healthy digestive system and also refrains the body from unhealthy weight gain.
The immunity system also gets a boost as dragon fruits are a wellspring of essential vitamins and minerals. Especially, vitamin C and carotenoids help in fighting against infections and thus keep a check on diseases.
Apart from this, the intake of dragon fruit regularizes the levels of insulin which helps in keeping a check on blood sugar levels. It also reduces inflammation and keeps the heart away from chronic diseases.
Different ways to add dragon fruit to your daily diet
It might seem to be difficult to incorporate dragon fruit into the daily diet, but in reality, it is not. If you are a beginner, you might feel uncomfortable eating dragon fruit, owing to its thick skin and appearance. But, it is not so! Dragon fruit can be consumed easily and we have some ways listed below to make it easier for you:
Slice the fruit in two halves with a knife. Take a spoon and scoop out the flesh and eat it.
With a knife, cut vertical and horizontal lines, forming cubes in the fruit. Push from the back of the skin to unleash the cubes. Then enjoy it directly.
You can eat it raw, add it to fruit salad, make smoothies, add it to yoghurt, or eat it as ice cream too.
So try the dragon fruit today and drift away into the ecstasy of nature’s creation.