When thinking of the common grocery aisle, you more than likely envision fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, and berries. But exploring just a little beyond the norm offers bountiful colors, nutrients, and tastes. Take a journey to the mysterious fruit land and discover dragon fruit and its five fantastic health benefits!
What is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit is actually a type of cactus and also known as pitaya, pitahaya, or a strawberry pear. Its intake is common in Mexico, Central and South America, and Asia but has become popularized in the United States as a "superfood." The dragon fruit shows green spike-like growths on its deep red or pink skin surface. The center, or edible flesh, is generally red, white, or yellow filled with black, speckled seeds. Although the fruit's visual appearance may seem a little intimidating, its taste is a little less than bold and often described similar to a kiwi, melon, and pear.
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
Enjoying dragon fruit comes with small preparation. First off, choose a ripe dragon fruit by investigating its skin. Ripe dragon fruit have a bright, even colored skin and can withhold some firmness when pressing on it. Soft dragon fruit with many noticeable skin blotches indicates a really ripe fruit. However, a few blotches are normal and a very firm dragon fruit may require additional days for ripening.
On a cutting board or clean surface, cut the dragon fruit vertically down the middle until there are two halves. You will notice the flesh with speckled black seeds, much like a kiwi. With a spoon, scoop out the flesh of each half. Be sure to carve away any of the skin that may be attached to the flesh, as it is not an ideal component to be consumed. Cube the flesh with a knife and place back into skin halves for serving purposes. Additionally, you can use an ice cream scoop or spoon to shovel out consistent balls of dragon fruit. Eat on its own or pair with other fruits for a vibrant, refreshing fruit salad!
Dragon Fruit Nutrition Facts and 5 Health Benefits
Most fruits do not come with a nutrition label. However, you should find some sort of comfort knowing colorful, fresh produce offers the body with tremendous nutrients unlike most packaged products. Need a little more convincing? Grab a pen because the nutritional value and health benefits of dragon fruit will have it on your next grocery list!
1. Low in Calorie
Fuel weight loss with low-calorie dragon fruit. The edible flesh of a dragon fruit contains only 60 calories all while offering ample amounts of nutrients. Nutritious foods low in calorie can make losing weight more effortless along with maintaining a healthy weight.
2. Adequate Fiber Source
Like most fruits, dragon fruit is a significant fiber source. Adequate dietary fiber promotes digestive and heart health. Fiber also has been shown to aid in weight loss, a double whammy for being a low-calorie food expressed above.
3. Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin C, iron, and calcium are highly abundant in dragon fruit. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant with collagen-building properties and iron is essential for oxygenating blood. Additionally, vitamin C enhances the body's ability to absorb iron. Calcium promotes bone health and proper muscle function and nerve transmission.
4. Offers Phytoalbumins
Primarily exclusive to dragon fruits, phytoalbumins found within the cactus are powerful antioxidants. The antioxidant properties have been attached to cancer prevention, reduced risk of heart disease, and longevity.
5. Provides Lycopene
Commonly associated with tomatoes, lycopene is also found in dragon fruits. Lycopene is a pigment responsible for the red color. But lycopene offers more than the color that meets the eye; it is also a powerful antioxidant. Studies have shown lycopene may help prevent prostate, stomach, and lung cancers along with the reduction of heart disease.
How Lycopene Helps Protect Against Cancer. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Available at: http://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/nutrition/how-lycopene-helps-protect-against-cancer.