What is dragon fruit? Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya fruit, is a tropical fruit that is loved by many around the world. Known for its striking outer appearance, dragon fruit ranges from bright pink to yellow and is scaly, with green studs and fleshy spikes.1,2 When cut, the inside of a dragon fruit may be white or red with an array of embedded black seeds. The dragon fruit seeds are also edible.
With such an exotic look, many people wonder where does dragon fruit come from? Dragon fruit is believed to be native to Central America but can also be found in Vietnam and other countries in Southeast Asia.1
Although referred to as a Dragon fruit tree, the plant is actually a climbing cactus vine and grows well in arid locations. One of the most fascinating aspects of the dragon fruit plant is that it blossoms at night. Aside from its most common name, it has also acquired additional nicknames such as “moonflower” or “Cinderella plant” for this very reason.1
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
Despite its daunting appearance, dragon fruit is quite easy to cut and consume. For those wondering how to cut dragon fruit properly, simply slice the ripe dragon fruit in half with a sharp knife. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh.
Once scooped out, you can slice the dragon fruit into chunks that may be easier to eat. Dragon fruit is often considered better to be eaten slightly chilled and can be paired with other tropical fruits such as mango to create a tasty fruit salad. Fresh or frozen dragon fruit can also be added to smoothies or acai bowls for a delicious treat.
How to Tell if Dragon Fruit is Ripe
To determine the ripeness of the fruit, observing its outer shade can offer an indication of its maturity. As it ripens, the dragon fruit color deepens to a vibrant yellow or red shade. If there are dark blemishes on the fruit’s skin, it’s often an indication of it being overripe.
Dragon fruit season lasts from June to December. During these months, you are sure to find this fruit in your local supermarkets.
Dragon Fruit Taste
One of the most popular questions concerning this exotic fruit is ‘what does dragon fruit taste like?’ Dragon fruit flavor and texture is often described as resembling a kiwi. However, its taste tends not to be as sweet as a kiwi, offering a milder flavor that may also resemble a pear.
Dragon Fruit Benefits
The top dragon fruit benefits include:
1. Antioxidant Activity
2. Vitamins and Minerals
3. Fatty Acids
4. Dietary Fiber
5. High Water Content
Introduced to Vietnam over a hundred years ago, dragon fruit is frequently used across Southeast Asia as a nutritional food to improve overall health.1 Thanks to increasing research on this renowned fruit, the benefits of dragon fruit are becoming increasingly documented. Based on the latest scientific research, below we explain the top 5 health benefits of dragon fruit.
1. Dragon Fruit Antioxidant Activity
Traditionally, dragon fruit has been used to help prevent against adverse health effects such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Fruits that are high in antioxidants are largely recognized for their ability to delay cell damage, and eliminate unwanted cells and free radicals in the body. In a 2006 study, dragon fruit was noted to contain these potent compounds, with its red-fleshed varieties shown to have high levels of antioxidants.2
2. Dragon Fruit has High Levels of Vitamins and Minerals
Dragon fruit health benefits also extend to the level of vitamins and minerals that it hosts. High levels of vitamin C, phosphorous and calcium can be found in this fruit. Vitamin C is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system while phosphorous and calcium assists with the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.2
3. Dragon Fruit Essential Fatty Acids
Dragon fruit seeds are known for containing essential fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic acid. These composites are renowned for their ability to manage metabolic rates in the body.3
4. Dietary Fiber in Dragon Fruit
Based on a study evaluating the health benefits of tropical fruits in Florida, red dragon fruit contained elevated levels of total dietary fiber.4 Lack of fiber in the diet can contribute to instable glucose levels, coronary heart disease and constipation.4 Traditionally the seeds have also been used to help control blood glucose levels as a natural treatment for individuals with certain types of diabetes.1
5. High Water Content in Dragon Fruit
In addition to its beneficial vitamins and minerals, dragon fruit’s water content is high. For every 100 grams of pulp, 82-89 grams is water.2 Water is essential for the body as it helps to eliminate toxins, transport essential nutrients to vital parts of the body, and provide other healthful benefits to the body.
Dragon Fruit Nutrition
Is dragon fruit good for you? – As for dragon fruit, nutrition facts indicate that it is indeed a nutrient-rich fruit and is a good addition to any healthy diet.
Per serving, (100 grams) there are approximately 60 calories in dragon fruit. It contains approximately 1.1 grams of protein, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar and only 0.4 grams of fat. Per serving, dragon fruit also contains 3 grams of fiber.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, dragon fruit contains approximately 20.5 mg of vitamin C and 22.5 mg of phosphorus. It is also comprised of 1.9 mg of iron and 8.5 mg of calcium.
Where to Buy Dragon Fruit
For those wondering where to buy fresh dragon fruit, the exotic delicacy can be purchased at local supermarkets, Walmart, farmers’ markets, or specialty stores. The dragon fruit plant can also be purchased from online stores, such as Amazon.
Other forms of dragon fruit, such as dried dragon fruit snacks and dragon fruit wine have gained popularity over the last few years. Dehydrated fruits can serve as a healthy treat, and are great for on the go. Much like fresh dragon fruit, its dried form can also be bought online from health outlets, organic food stores, Amazon, and other suppliers.
For those that admire the sophisticated taste of wine, dragon fruit wine is not to be missed. In addition to its flavor, dragon fruit wine is also praised for its nutritional value. While some individuals enjoy making this wine on their own, there are online outlets that do sell this specialty wine. As it is not usually sold in stores, consumers often find the best deals on Amazon, as it is one of the most convenient online suppliers.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Thulaja, N., & Rahman, N. (2017). Dragon Fruit. Singapore Inforpedia. Retrieved October 19 2017, from http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_768_2005-01-11.html
- World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) catalog › Details for: Dragon fruit: Hylocereus undatus (Haw.) Britton and Rose – a fruit for the future. (2017). worldagroforestry.org. Retrieved October 19 2017, from http://outputs.worldagroforestry.org/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=35474http://outputs.worldagroforestry.org/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=35474
- Griffin, A., Bakar, J., Tan, P., Rahman, R., Karim, R., & Loi, C. (2017). Essential Fatty Acids of Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) Seed Oil. Food Chemistry, 114(2). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.09.108
- Mahattanatawee, K., Manthey, J., Luzio, G., Walcott, S., Goodness, K., & Baldwin, E. (2017). Total Antioxidant Activity and Fiber Content of Select Florida-Grown Tropical Fruits. Journal Of Agriculture & Food Chemistry, 7361. DOI:1021/jf060566s