Pitaya: properties, nutritional values, uses and contraindications of dragon fruit

Have you ever heard of pitaya ? It is a very particular exotic fruit and also known as dragon fruit . Let’s find out all the properties and uses of this food.

It is not easily found in our markets but it is much easier to find it in stores that sell food, fruit and vegetables from distant countries. Let’s talk about pitaya , a fruit with a decidedly distinctive appearance and interesting properties.

Although the pitaya originates from the American continent, it is now particularly widespread in China and more generally in Asia and in tropical countries where there is a climate suitable for its growth. The fruit that produces this succulent plant vaguely resembles the prickly pear and internally the kiwi.

It is characterized by having a very bright color, its external part is in fact fuchsia, scaly and with green parts while the inside is white and pulpy studded with numerous black seeds. This is the most common type of pitaya but there are actually other species of pitaya, one that has red flesh and another with yellow peel.

The pitaya can be more or less large, the weight of a fruit in fact varies between 150 and 600 grams. The shape is somewhat reminiscent of pear, the flavor is delicate, sweet at the right point and the texture is soft.

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Index

  • Pitaya, property
  • Pitaya, nutritional values ​​and calories
  • Pitaya, use
    • Pitaya for beauty and body care
  • Pitaya, where to find it
  • Pitaya, contraindications
  • Pitaya, curiosity

Pitaya, property

Given the nutritional composition of pitaya, it is not surprising that it offers a very wide range of health benefits which we can summarize as follows:

  • Antioxidant:the antioxidant content of this fruit is similar to that of acai berries, which is why dragon fruit is often considered a super food .
  • Digestion:thanks to the conspicuous presence of fibers, the dragon fruits favor digestion and help in case of constipation.
  • Reduces cholesterol: thanks to the monounsaturated fats present in this fruit, pitaya helps heart health by helping to reduce cholesterol levels.
  • Benefits for diabetes:regular consumption of dragon fruit is linked to a reduction in blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for type 2 diabetics and prediabetics.
  • Weight loss:always thanks to the richness in fibers that promote a sense of satiety and help stabilize blood sugar levels, these fruits are allies of those on a diet.
  • Anti-inflammatory:the active ingredients of pitaya give it powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help, for example, those suffering from arthritis.
  • It helps the immune system and the energy level:thanks to its nutritional composition, this fruit offers support to the immune system and also helps to keep the body’s energy level high.
  • It prevents anemia :thanks to the richness of iron and vitamin C (which as we know it favors its assimilation), pitaya helps to fight anemia.
  • Stimulates cell regeneration:these fruits help the cells to reproduce better and accelerate the healing of wounds and injuries.

Pitaya, nutritional values ​​and calories

A pitaya contains about 60 calories on average and the nutritional values ​​of this fruit are very interested. It is in fact rich in vitamins (including vitamin C, B1, B2 and B3) and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also a good source of essential fatty acids as well as fiber and protein.

This is the nutrients present in 100 grams of fruit :

  • Water 87 g
  • Protein 1.1 g
  • Fat 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrates 11.0 g
  • Fiber 3 g
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 0.04 mg
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 0.05 mg
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin) 0.16 mg
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 20.5 mg
  • Calcium (Ca) 8.5 mg
  • Iron (Fe) 1.9 mg
  • Phosphorus (P) 22.5 mg

Pitaya, use

The pitaya is eaten as it is simply by removing the outer peel or cutting it in half and tasting it with the help of a teaspoon a bit like you would do with a kiwi.

There are also those who serve it sweetened with a little sugar and enriched with lemon juice or inside fruit salads but it also lends itself to making desserts, cocktails, smoothies and drinks such as the “agua de pitaya “.

In Asian countries it is the protagonist of numerous dishes in which the flowers of the plant are also used as a side dish with fish and meat dishes or in traditional dishes. The same pulp can also be boiled, steamed or seared in a pan and then combined with savory dishes.

Then there is the dry dragon fruit powder that can be added to DIY juices and extracts. It can also be added to muesli, yogurt or raw desserts to enrich them and improve their nutritional intake.

You can also find dried pitaya which can be a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.
Not even the peel from which jam can be obtained or used to prepare a herbal tea is not thrown away from this fruit.

Finally, for those who want to make this fruit a real natural remedy in the treatment of some ailments, there are real pitaya supplements available in tablets.

Pitaya for beauty and body care

Many people use pitaya pulp in creams and DIY recipes to fight acne, congested skin or to soothe sunburn. The antioxidants of dragon fruit, in fact, help fight the signs of aging by reducing the harmful effects of free radicals in the body and help soothe various skin problems. Being then rich in vitamin C, these fruits also favor a brighter and younger skin.

Eating fresh dragon fruit or adding extract powder to your daily diet also helps keep your hair nourished and healthy, improving its texture and restoring its shine.

Aside from the fruit, the peel of the dragon fruit also proves useful in some pharmaceutical, cosmetic and nutraceutical formulations.

Pitaya, where to find it

As we have already said, it is practically impossible to find pitaya in common supermarkets but it is much easier to find it in markets or in shops selling exotic and ethnic foods. The dried version, the powder and the dragon fruit supplements are also available online .

Pitaya, contraindications

The pitaya does not actually present big contraindications, only possible and rare allergies to the fruit. As always, you should not exceed the consumption of any food, in this case, for example, there could be a strong laxative effect.

If you notice a color that tends to pinkish in urine and feces after consuming this fruit, do not worry, some active ingredients in dragon fruit are responsible for it and everything will return to normal within a couple of days.

Pitaya, curiosity

Legend has it that the fruits known by the name of pitaya are actually dragon eggs (for this reason it is also known as dragon fruit). The peel of this fruit, which is characterized by having scales similar to those of a dragon, has helped to associate the fruit with this mythological animal.

You may also be interested in the properties of other exotic fruits:

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