Why dragon fruit is good for you

By : Vic Thor Palarca Mindanao Today/09:44:35am 09/27/2021


Whenever in season, I indulge in this so called "exotic" fruit when I am at home. Do not let its otherworldly appearance fool you though since the flesh is sweet and (ful)filling specially when it is consumed chilled. Again, this fruit is best served chilled! (Photo courtesy of Vic Thor Palarca)

ONE look and one would think that this fruit is of Tamaranean or Thanagarian origin – very alien! What with the pink dragon-like scales and inside flesh filled with teeny-weeny black seeds.

Once considered as exotic and expensive, this emerging hot commodity being yanked out from obscurity is slowly becoming popular among the health conscious and foodies like me in the form of a smoothie, juice, fruit shake, salad or as a cocktail mix.

Ranging from sweet to mildly sweet, dragon fruit also known as “pitaya” comes with a host of health benefits and is quite easy to grow.

No, not papaya. Pitaya. Although it tastes like ripe papaya sans the seeds. Good thing our brother Victor Neal decided to propagate this exotic fruit in our farm.

Super fruit

As stated in the website fromthegrapevine.com, Pitaya was the original name for dragon fruit when it began cultivation in the 19th century.

Researchers have been trying to popularize the red-fleshed variety, a cousin of the white-fleshed variety, from a farm in Central Israel, for several years through selective breeding.

Through selective breeding, the dragon fruit available today is actually a sweeter, red-fleshed version which has a longer shelf life.

Soon, we might be seeing more of this vibrant produce in the years to come.

Selective breeding

Many fruits and vegetables we see on shelves and consume nowadays have been selectively bred to improve taste and quality.

The dragon fruit we take delight today is sweeter, redder and more palatable. The difference is all in the taste.

New strains of dragon fruit have been developed which is controlling the reproductive process of the plants to produce offspring with favorable characteristics.

Again, thanks to selective breeding.

Health benefits

Often referred to as a superfruit, dragon fruits have been shown to potentially boost immunity, aid digestion, prevent cancer, boost metabolism and improve cardiovascular health.

It has a number of other health benefits including its ability to aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, strengthen the immune system, and boost energy levels.

It also helps prevent cancer and heart diseases, defend against bacteria and fungi, and helps in the overall functioning of the body according to organicfacts.net.

So, whether you prefer the red, reddish-purple, or white dragon fruit variety, the verdict is the same: this fruit should definitely be in your diet or next eat list.

Word of caution: There are no health risks associated with dragon fruits as such and studies have even shown that they are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women too.

However, the only drawback is that it will make your poo-poo reddish or pinkish depending on how many of the fruit you ate. No need to be alarmed on this matter.

How to consume a dragon fruit?

Step 1: Cut a fresh dragon fruit into two halves. (I was told by my older sister Cecille to slice it vertically since by doing so, I can eat it with its sweetness evenly distributed since the bottom part contains the most fructose. Point taken.)

Step 2: Scoop out the flesh from each half with the help of a spoon by running the spoon around the edges. The flesh of a ripe dragon fruit will come out effortlessly.

Step 3: You can also slice or cut the flesh into cubes (like what I did with my share as shown on the pic).

Step 4: Eat, indulge and enjoy!

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in the Agricultural Training Institute website in 2018. We are republishing it with permission from the author.)

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