Discover the Properties of the Exotic Pink Dragon Fruit

23 October, 2020
Dragon fruit is a highly valued plant when it comes to ornamental purposes. However, its edible fruit has recently become a fashionable gastronomic option.

Dragon fruit is the fruit of the cactus Hylocereus cacteus. It comes from the south of Mexico and Central America, and there are different varieties of this tropical fruit. Among them is the pink-skinned variety that can have pulp of the same color or white with some small black seeds inside.

Despite having an exotic appearance, it presents a flavor similar to that of many other fruits. Some people describe it as a taste between that of a kiwi and a pear.

In the following article, we’ll tell you about its composition and characteristics.

The properties and health benefits of dragon fruit

Dragon fruit has aroused the interest of science in recent years due to its significant nutrient content. Therefore, scientists have been discovering some of its most important effects, both as a food as well as for the cosmetic industry. Among its main benefits, the following stand out:

Antioxidant properties

This is one of the main positive impacts of dragon fruit. As we’ve known for a long time, it contains different compounds that serve as antioxidants–molecules that protect the cells of the body from the action of free radicals.

A sufficient amount of scientific evidence exists that relates free radicals with certain chronic diseases like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Although free radicals are not the only cause, a diet rich in antioxidants can be preventive.

Dragon fruit in the foreground.
Dragon fruit is the fruit of a cactus. Characteristic of Central America, it’s also available in other world markets.

Learn about: How to Eat Healthy to Keep Your Heart Healthy

Oligosaccharides with a prebiotic effect

Part of the nutritional content of dragon fruit is made up of carbohydrates. Apart from glucose and fructose, it presents notable quantities of oligosaccharides. These are more or less long chains of sugars.

Experts have observed that gastric juices and enzymes cannot break down this type of fiber. Therefore, it arrives undigested in the colon where it serves as food for intestinal bacteria. This is why we can say that the consumption of dragon fruit is capable of stimulating the growth of some healthy probiotic strains, such as bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.

There’s still a lot left to discover regarding the relationship that exists between a healthy microbiota and a good state of health. Today, we know that it influences some situations, such as inflammatory bowel diseases, irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and non-alcoholic fatty liver.

It strengthens the immune system

The ability of the body to cope with pathogens depends on certain dietary factors. Thus, cells, including those of the defense system, have all the nutrients they need to function optimally.

As experts point out, the role of vitamin C and zinc, both present in the fruit of the dragon fruit, stands out. Also, it’s important to remember that of vitamin A (in this case beta-carotene, one of its precursors).

This nutrient has the ability to prevent infections, while ascorbic acid supports various cellular functions of the innate and acquired immune system. Also, a good part of these cells are located in the lymphoid tissue associated with the intestine.

The intestinal microbiota interacts with these cells, so all foods with a prebiotic effect keep the microbiota in good shape and facilitate this positive effect on the immune system.

Dragon fruit has iron

Dragon fruit is one of the few fresh fruits that provide a considerable amount of iron. As we’ll see later on, it has 1.9 mg per 100 grams of this food represents about 10% of the daily requirement of this iron.

What’s more, the existence of vitamin C facilitates its absorption.

The importance of fruit

It’s important to highlight the value of the dragon fruit as part of the fruit food group. Most fruits present positive nutritional characteristics. Therefore, including them in your daily intake has generally positive effects on our health and well-being.

Eating 3 to 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day contributes to a lower incidence of obesity and some types of cancer. It also reduces risk factors associated with cardiovascular problems, such as blood pressure. What’s more, it also improves the state of the intestinal microbiota.

Nutritional composition

All the health properties of dragon fruits are due to some of its components. Its nutritional value is similar to that of most fruits with a high content of water, fiber, and vitamins. The composition per 100 grams of fruit is as follows:

  • Water: 87 grams.
  • Protein: 1.1 grams.
  • Fats: 0.4 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: 11 grams.
  • Fiber: 3 grams.

Also, within its composition, some vitamins of the B group stand out, such as B1, B2, and B3. Also, it has a remarkable amount of vitamin C and minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc. Finally, it’s worth mentioning the presence of phytonutrients such as lycopene (in the red pulp varieties), carotenes, and phenols.

Read more: Why Vitamins Are Essential for Your Diet

How to choose and eat the dragon fruit

Pitaya in gastronomy.

The dragon fruit can be used in salads or as juice.

When selecting dragon fruits, they must be bright red in color. Otherwise, if they’re still green, they’re not at their right point of ripeness. It’s normal for them to have some spots on their skin. However, if there are many, it’s a sign that they are already very ripe.

To eat it, cut them in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. You can separate the pulp with a spoon, just like when preparing an avocado. It’s important to watch out for any pieces of skin since this part of the fruit isn’t edible. Once peeled and cut there, are several different ways to enjoy it.

For example, you can do the following:

  • Cut it into cubes and eat it alone or along with other fruits.
  • Incorporate it as another ingredient in salads.
  • Drink it in juices or smoothies with other fruits
  • Also, you can add it to yogurt or milk

The dragon fruit is an exotic fruit with a great nutritional interest

It’s important to include fruit in your daily diet given the many benefits it offers to your body. One great option is dragon fruit. Without a doubt, it’s one of the most attractive exotic options on the market.

Not only is dragon fruit light, but it also contributes fiber and a great number of vitamins and minerals. What’s more, eating it contributes to the prevention of chronic diseases. Finally, it improves the state of the intestinal microbiota and reinforces the immune system.

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