Origins, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

· 2 min read
Origins, Nutrition, and Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
Photo by Heather Ford / Unsplash


The dragon fruit or pitaya is a type of cactus. It is the fruit of several different species, although most people refer to the fruit of the genus Stenocereus, which is found in the Cactaceae family. It is considered a superfood in its own right and is an excellent addition to diets rich in antioxidants. Here, we will take a closer look at dragon fruit's origins, nutrition, and health benefits.

Origin


The myth says that fire-breathing dragons bred the dragon fruit. As the fruit blew fire during the battle, the victorious soldiers collected the dragon fruit and presented it to the Emperor. However, the legend is only folklore. Dragon fruits are grown in various countries, including California, Florida, and Hawaii. The fruit is also grown in Ecuador, Colombia, and Nicaragua. Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that grows best in warm climates.

Nutrition


The nutrition of dragon fruit varies greatly depending on its variety. Some varieties have a black seed and a red pulp, while others have yellow skins and white flesh. While they're all edible, they are not the same. The most common way to tell the difference is to look at their colors. The red varieties tend to have more challenging eating seeds than the white ones. Dragon fruit can also be eaten in smoothies or green salads.

Flavonoids


Flavonoids are found in various fruits and vegetables, and dragon fruit is no exception. Dragon fruit contains as many as ten times more flavonoids than carrots! This may be due to differences in the composition of the fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, dragon fruit is also high in carotenoids, which are beneficial for human health. While dragon fruit contains a significant amount of carotenoids compared to carrots, researchers are not sure if the difference is due to differences in composition or concentration.

Lycopene


Dragon fruit is rich in flavonoid and polyphenol content and antioxidant activity. It is also high in B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants, making it a valuable ingredient in various cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants that protect the body against free radical damage, which contributes to aging and chronic diseases. Other benefits of dragon fruit include improved heart health and brain function. Other benefits of dragon fruit include lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

Prebiotic properties


Dragon fruit contains probiotics, a nutrient that supports healthy digestion. It contains fructooligosaccharides and oligosaccharides, two components of the bacterial food chain. Studies suggest that dragon fruit promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. The prebiotic properties of dragon fruit may ease the symptoms of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Further studies are needed to verify the beneficial effects of dragon fruit in humans.

Availability


The availability of dragon fruit in Vietnam depends on the market's price. The market price of dragon fruit depends on its demand and supply. Buyers usually buy at higher prices, but they purchase only small quantities daily. On the other hand, wholesalers buy fruit of all grades and sell it at higher prices, increasing the availability of dragon fruit during peak season. In general, the cost of dragon fruit is around VND 16.500/kg for grade A and VND 12,000/kg for grade B.

Health benefits


Known as the pitaya, dragon fruit is a tropical or subtropical cactus that grows in Asia, South America, and Mexico. This fruit is spotted with black seeds and has an outer skin that resembles the scales of a mythical dragon. It has 60 calories per fruit and is rich in Vitamin C, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and vitamin B3. It is also high in iron and calcium.