Dragon Fruit: Types, nutritional value, health benefits and how you can eat it?

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya is a tropical fruit that grows on the Hylocereus cactus, a plant that is inherent in places such as southern Mexico and Central America. Besides its exotic appearance, the fruit also holds various health benefits and nutritional values.

Known for its bright red skin and green scales, the fruit is said to resemble a dragon, which is why it is called a dragon fruit. However, in contrast to its features, the fruit tastes quite ordinary switching from the flavours of kiwi to a pear.

Types of dragon fruits

There are three types of dragon fruits.
Hylocereus undatus – Also known as white-fleshed pitahaya, hylocereus undatus is a vine-like cactus. It consists of bright red skin, studded with green scales and white flesh.

Hylocereus megalanthus – Native to northern South America, hylocereus megalanthus is a cactus species grown for it’s yellow fruit.

Hylocereus polyrhizus – Hylocereus polyrhizus, known as red pitaya, is native to Mexico. It consists of red skin with red flesh and is popular for it’s high antioxidant properties.

Nutritional value of dragon fruit/pitaya

Aside from it’s exquisite and unique appearance, dragon fruits are rich in vital nutrients. Low in calories, it is filled with essential vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. To give you a better look at it’s nutritional content, here’s what a cup of dragon fruit serving can provide your body with.

Calories – 136

Protein: 3 grams

Fat: 0 gms

Vitamin C: 9 percent

Vitamin E: 4 percent

Carbohydrates: 29 gms

Fiber: 7 gms

Iron: 8 percent

Magnesium: 18 percent

Health benefits of eating dragon fruits
Like many other nutritional fruits, dragon fruit have several potential health benefits.

Rich in different types of antioxidants, it helps protect your body from free radicals that can lead to chronic illnesses and also fasten the process of ageing.

Dragon fruits are also known for it’s high fiber content, which plays an important role in maintaining digestive health and watching unhealthy weight gain.

Due to its high nutritional value, dragon fruits or pitaya can strengthen your immunity as well. The vitamin C and carotenoids in dragon fruit can prevent infections to enter your body and therefore can keep illnesses at bay.

Besides that, consumption of dragon fruit can keep insulin level in check, reduce inflammation in the body and can reduce risks of heart diseases.

Ways to add dragon fruits to your diet

As difficult as it may seem to incorporate dragon fruits in your diet, it is as easy to do so. While the fruit may seem intimidating with it’s thick skin and exotic appearance, preparing it is quite simple. Here are some ways to eat it.

– Use a knife to slice the fruit in half.

– Then take a spoon and use it to scoop the flesh out of the fruit. You can also draw vertical and horizontal lines with a sharp knife, forming cubes of the edible fruit. Push onto the back of the skin, so as to reveal the cubes and making it easier to remove.

– You can then eat it as it is or add it to salad, make smoothies out of it or incorporate it with yogurts.

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