It is Pitaya season now, or Dragon Fruit as it is called in the USA. This time of year is the harvest time for pitaya and rambutan, two of my favorite fruits here. There are vendors on the malecon selling pitaya now, and even pitaya juice. I have been drinking pitaya juice almost everyday now, and I can really feel the health benefits.
I have been eating pitaya and rambutan a lot lately, and it really lowers my blood sugar. I am a diabetic so I have to check my blood sugar, and the other day my sugar count was 107, which is good, and I only took half of my daily diabetic medicine.
Pitaya is only available a couple of times a year here, and when it is in season, I eat as much of it as I can.
The Pitaya is more commonly referred to as the dragon fruit. It is an extremely beautiful fruit that has dazzling flowers and an intense shape and color. The dragon fruit is usually a dark red color, although some types of this fruit are pink or yellow. The skin of the dragon fruit is a thin rind. The skin is usually covered in scales, and the center of the fruit is made up of a red or white, sweet tasting pulp.
Pitaya is a fruit of a cactus native to Mexico. It is believed that the sweetest kinds are harvested in the beautiful state of Jalisco. Pitayas are not be confused with tuna, the fruit of the nopal (or cactus pads); or with pitahayas, or dragon fruit, which has a fluorescent pink skin.
|Pitahaya at a market in Mexico.|
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
Dragon Fruit Cholesterol
Keeping a heart healthy low cholesterol diet? Don’t worry about your cholesterol Dragon fruit cholesterol is not an issue. Dragon fruit is both low in cholesterol and has little to no unhealthy cholesterol producing fats (certain fats which are metabolized to cholesterol contribute to increased cholesterol levels more than even cholesterol itself in food sources of cholesterol).
Dragon Fruit Vitamin C
The amount of vitamin C in dragon fruit is high, and because the dragon fruit is a natural fruit providing you with a rich balance of nutrients coming along with the vitamin C, you absorb the Vitamin C in dragon fruit efficiently when you eat dragon fruit as part of your fruit healthy diet.
Dragon Fruit Antioxidants
Eat dragon fruit as a good natural source of anti-oxidants which help to prevent the dangers of free radicals which can cause cancer and other undesirable health detriments.The number, quantity, and variety of antioxidants in real foods like dragon fruit is completely unmatched by any food supplement or pills – even those claiming to have ‘antioxidant’ health benefits. Nothing compares to the rich array of nutrients and antioxidants in a real natural food like the dragon fruit. Forget about junk foods and processed foods, as they are poison not foods! Even though a supplement claiming to offer a high amount of antioxidant benefits may sound good, the fact is that foods like dragon fruit have literally thousands of varieties of antioxidant substances and the supplement likely will contain only one (e.g. vitamin E supplements). Taking a single megadose of a single antioxidant compound may in fact cause harm or be toxic! Stick with dragon fruit antioxidant sources and other fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid trying to take a shortcut through a pill.
Dragon Fruit Fats
Dragon fruit does have a small amount of fats because there are so many seeds in the edible part of the fruit. There can be literally thousands of the small black seeds in any given dragon fruit, and like most seeds and nuts they have both fats and protein in them while the flesh of the fruit itself has virtually none. Many fruits we eat have the seeds removed, like apricots, peaches, apples and the like, so we tend to think of fruits as being completely fat and protein free. It would be literally impossible to remove the seeds from dragon fruit unless you pressed it through a strainer, as the seeds are very small and mixed evenly in the flesh. Fortunately these are mostly the healthy mono-unsaturated fats as, of course, they are not processed in any way and therefore are none of the dangerously unhealthy trans-fats seen in most junk food and processed foods.
Dragon Fruit Fiber
Dietary fiber is an important nutrition factor for everyone from young to old, and the best way to get dietary fiber is to eat fruits and vegetables including fruits like the dragon fruit. As you might expect, like many fruits, dragon fruit has lots of dietary fiber with almost 1g of fiber per 100g of the fresh dragon fruit. Of course, the amount of dietary fiber in dragon fruit which is dried on a gram for gram basis is much higher than the amount of dietary fiber in dragon fruit as the fresh fruit. Depending upon the degree of moisture retention in the dried dragon fruit fruit, expect to see 10g or more grams of dietary dragon fruit fiber per 100g of the dried pitahaya fruit. The amount of dietary dragon fruit fiber in the fresh dragon fruit will be more on the order of 1g of fiber per 100g of the fresh dragon fruit because the fresh fruit has so much water in it. If you want to increase how much fiber is in dragon fruit, you can eat more of the dragon fruit skin if it is in good condition (free of any spoilage or molds). Many sources of dried dragon fruit fiber may include some or all of the dragon fruit skin already, so depending upon this fact, you may find that the dried dragon fruit has even more fiber than the fresh fruit even after taking into account the drying process and the resulting concentration of fiber on a gram for gram basis. The health benefits of dragon fruit fiber are just one other example of the reason that eating natural sources of nutrients is superior to getting them from pills and supplements Dragon fruit nutritional benefits also include the levels of dragon fruit antioxidants – the antioxidants in dragon fruit are numerous and varied.
Thanks for reading,
Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina