Dragon fruit - now theres a moniker that conjures up a ferocious mental picture, and rightly so. Fresh dragon fruit with its pinkish-red or yellow skin and spiky green leaves, looks like a monstrous curiosity. Also called, pitaya, dragon fruit grows on cacti which originated in Mexico. Its now heavily cultivated throughout southern Asia, especially Thailand and Vietnam; and it has gained popularity in Israel, Australia, and Cyprus.
When it comes to antioxidant content, dragon fruit is a beast. Pesky free-radical molecules that can cause aging, tissue damage, stroke, and heart disease simply dont stand a chance. Dragon fruit also contains both soluble fiber, which helps stabilize cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and insoluble fiber, which aids digestion.
Their tiny black seeds are among the richest plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that you can find, which means this curious looking tropical fruit helps fight inflammation throughout the body in addition to keeping your arteries clean and clear, and helping to lower bad cholesterol.
Its low in calories but full of nutrients like phosphorus, vitamins B and C, iron, carotene, lycopene, captin, and calcium. Proponents tout it as being beneficial for healthy bones and teeth, and a stronger immune system.
Stenocereus isnt a dinosaur; its actually a sour tasting, but refreshing and meaty dragon fruit. A sweeter version of the stenocereus, from the organ pipe cactus, is called the pitaya dulce. Sweet!
Another dinosaur-esque sounding variety, the Hylocereus undatus, also known as pitaya blanca, has white, meaty flesh. In the hylocereus costaricensis, both the skin and the flesh are red. And Hylocereus megalanthus, has yellow skin with white flesh.
Because of their crunchy black seeds, dragon fruit are often compared to kiwi. The taste is a mild cross between a kiwi and a pear. Dragon fruit is ripe for the picking and ready for your table if the skin is a bright, vibrant color, and it yields to the touch, like a kiwi, but isnt too soft and mushy.
The skin is not edible, but the fleshy meat may be scooped out, and diced into bite-sized pieces for a delicious treat. It can also be refrigerated if stored in an air-tight container. Pitaya is a delightful addition to fruit salad or a fruit smoothie.