Welcome to the first edition of Superfruit Sunday. This weekly series is slightly different to the Superfood Sunday series as I am working in partnership with London based exotic fruit specialist Toucan Fruit Ltd.
Today, I will be taking a closer look at Pitahaya aka Dragon Fruit, and its Top Ten potential Health Benefits when consumed orally as part of ones daily diet.
My research has also unearthed surprising natural Beauty Benefits when applied topically, and whilst I will make reference to them briefly in this article, a separate post will capture the beauty benefits in greater detail.
What is Dragon Fruit?
Pitahaya or Dragon Fruit as most commonly known in English speaking countries is part of the Catus Family. The superfruit I am currently in receipt of were sourced from Columbia, South America.
These strikingly coloured aesthetically pleasing fruits can also be found in other parts of the world such as Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, Hawaii, Israel and Northern Australia to name a few.
The shapes of a Dragon Fruit are usually Oval but in some instances can be oblong too. Before we go any further, it is worth mentioning that there are three different types of Dragon Fruit.
Hylocereus undatus (Pitahaya Blanca)
Hylocereus undatus is a sprawling or vining, terrestrial or epiphytic cactus. They climb by use of aerial roots and can reach a height 10 meters or more growing on rocks and trees.
The Pitahaya Blanca is used both as an ornamental vine and as a fruit crop and is the most commonly seen ‘Dragon Fruit’ out of the three types that are available.
Pitahaya Blanca can be easily identified by its vibrantly coloured red exterior with small striking brilliant green leaves and once cut open, reveals creamy white flesh with hundreds of edible black, nutrient rich seeds. This type of dragon fruit is oblong to oval, measures between 6 – 12 centimeters long and is 4 – 9 centimeters thick
Hylocereus megalanthus (Pitahaya amarilla)
Hylocereus megalanthus or yellow pitahaya also known as Selenicereus megalanthus, is also an impressive ornamental climbing vine and boasts the largest flowers of all cacti species! The origin of Pithaya amerilla can be found in Venezuela to Peru, including Columbia, Ecuador and Bolivia in tropical Ripranrian Rainforests.
Pitahaya amarilla is best described as ovoid, tuberculate and spiny with a yellow exterior. Once cut open in halves reveals a spongy, jelly like pulp, again with hundreds of edible black nutrient rich seeds throughout the fruit.
Hylocereus Costaricensis (Pitahaya Roja)
Hylocereus Costaricensis or Red Pitahaya , also known as Hylocereus Polyrihizus is named after Costa Rica, where it is believed the fruit was first discovered. It’s origin and habitat runs from Guatamala to northeast Peru and grown in dry rainforests and coastal areas.
Pitahaya Roja’s shape resembles a leaf like, sphere appearance and once cut open from its red exterior shell, reveals a gorgeous bright magenta / purple flesh with black, pear-shaped seeds.
With the three different types of Dragon Fruit explained in detail, I am now going to enlighten you of the potential health AND beauty benefits these gorgeous fruits can bring you if consumed orally and topically as part of your regular eating and beauty regime.
Health Benefits Of Dragon Fruit
The two risk factors for heart diseases are having a high level of oxidative stress and stiff arteries. Consuming dragon fruit may help us to improve these conditions.
1 – Healthy Fats: Dragon Fruit contains a small amount of healthy monounsaturated fat because the fruit has hundreds of tiny seeds in its edible part of the fruit (the flesh). The seeds and nuts in the dragon fruit contain fats and proteins.
2 – Low In Cholesterol: As this fruit contains only healthy monounsaturated fats, it has no unhealthy cholesterol fats that harm the human body making this fruit low in cholesterol.
3 – Rich In Fibre: Dragon fruit is also best known for its cleansing properties of the digestive system. The fibres in the fruit help to get better bowel movements. It is also a good solution for constipation.
4 – Cardiovascular Health: This fruit is a good source of mono saturated fats which helps to keep our heart in good condition decreases bad cholesterol levels from the body and then increases
good cholesterol levels.
5 – Contains a Wealth of Essential Vitamins and Minerals: Contains high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2, and B3. It is also rich in many important minerals as iron, calcium and phosphorus which can promote bone and tissue health as well as protecting the body’s cells from free radicals.
We are only on the forth benefit out of ten and already you should be able to see why the Dragon Fruit is deemed as a ‘superfruit’ as it plays a part in enhancing nutrition and corrects body ailments.
6 – Regulates Diabetes: Due to the amount of high fibre content a Dragon Fruit contains, consuming on a regular basis could help an individual stabilize his / her blood sugar level.
It is known to also avoid sugar spikes that are often observed after eating high glycemic index foods therefore making Dragon Fruit ideal for those who are diabetic though one should consult with your Doctor / GP in the first instance before consuming.
7 – A source of Antioxidents: Dragon fruit is a natural source of antioxidants. Antioxidants plays a major part in removing free radicals from our bodies that cause dieases such as cancer as well as other unwanted health issue.
8 – Good for Asthma Sufferers: Due to Dragon Fruit containing vast amounts of Vitamin C which is known to help strengthen the immunity system, consuming this on a regular basis is said to helps fight against respiratory disorders like Asthma though I would advise to consult with your Doctor / GP in the first instance.
9 – Natural Anti Ageing Remedy: Due to being a rich source of antioxidants, Dragon Fruit helps us to fight free radicals in our body. It also helps to slow down the aging process after the free radicals are reduced. Due to this process, the skin is said to look noticeably younger and tighter.
10 – Helps Control Weight: As this fruit is low in calories whilst being a rich source of fiber, it therefore aids with the feeling of being full after a meal without adding extra unwanted pounds! It is said to cleanse and improve our metabolic system thereby helping us to maintain a healthy weight.
Beauty Benefits Of Dragon Fruit
As mentioned in the earlier part of this article, through research I have unearthed some potential beauty benefits and natural raw remedies Dragon Fruit can give us when applying the pulp to our skin topically. These include using Dragon Fruit to:
- Treat Acne prone skin conditions
- Fight Signs of Anti Ageing
- Treat chemically coloured hair
- Increase Bright Glowing Skin AND last but not least to
- Soothe Sunburnt Skin
Over the next week I shall be putting some of these theories to the test and should they prove to be a success, I shall share the recipes and my thoughts over in the ‘Green Beauty’ section of this blog.
How To Eat Dragon Fruit
Cut the Pitahaya in half and remove the flesh from the skin. You will find it will still hold its shape and can be diced and added into fruit salads or desserts with other tropical fruits.
It can also be applied into smoothies and is said to make a great sorbets and sherbets when combined with a natural sugar alternative such as Xylitol and left to freeze for 30 minutes.
Dragon Fruit Taste
As part of my first fruit selection sent to me by the lovely Soroya at Toucan Fruit Ltd, I got to try the Pitahaya Blanca and Yellow Pitahaya.
Whilst both were enjoyable to eat, the Yellow Pitahaya stood out in terms of taste. To me, the Yellow Pitahaya tastes like a cross between a kiwi and a mixture of citrus fruits whereas the Pitahaya Blanca is actually tasteless.
Going slightly off topic and going back to health benefit no 3, it is worth mentioning that Toucan Fruit has supplied Harley Street with Yellow Pitahaya’s to help patients with bowel problems and cancers.
Selection & Storage
When the skin is still a bit green, the fruit can be ripened at room temperature. The leaves should still be bright green. Once ripe, keep refrigerated and consume within a few days.
I hope you have enjoyed the first edition of Superfruit Sunday just as much as I have sampling the fruit and researching in greater detail to enlighten you lovely lot that make it a habit to stop by and read my articles *thank you!*
Should you want to find out more about Toucan Fruit, including where their juice bar is located, prices and their entire exotic fruits range, Toucan Fruit can be found online by visiting Soroya’s website Toucan Fruit Ltd, Toucan Fruit Facebook or by simply following them on Twitter.
Be sure to check back this time next week where I shall be looking into another columbian superfruit in greater detail.
Happy Sunday All! 🙂