What is pitahaya (pitaya) Fruit?
Pitahaya fruit or dragon fruit comes from the Greek language and means “dragon flesh” They are also known as dragon fruit or dragon heart. Pitahaya is a large fruit in size and has a long skin and white flesh inside that is very sweet in taste.
Scientific Name: Selenicereus undatus
Common Names: Pitahaya fruit, dragon fruit; pitaya fruit; belle of the night; dragon heart; queen of the night; strawberry pear; etc.
The fruit is harvested in late summer, when the skin changes color from light green to bright red. It can be eaten raw, cut into slices, removing the leathery shell on the outside, just under the skin. They can also be used to make drinks like smoothies or shakes, or even added to desserts like ice cream.
Pitahaya as is
The most favorite way to eat this tropical fruit is to simply peel off the top layer until there is a piece of pulp with tons of tiny black seeds inside.
Also, pitahaya can be cut along its “equator” to get the best edible part. Cut the fruit into two parts and eat with a spoon. Or, cut into smaller pieces. Each bite may contain seeds that are great for your body, so don’t throw them away!
Dragon fruit benefits
According to some studies, pitahaya contains nutrients such as amino acids, magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and niacin, making it beneficial for the skin.
The main beneficial properties for the body:
- Pitahaya helps regulate blood pressure.
- Dragon fruit has anti-inflammatory properties that can be effective in treating arthritis pain without side effects.
- Pitahaya extract is effective in treating leprosy and arthritis pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Dragon fruit is good at preventing kidney stones because it has citrate, which binds to the molecules that cause kidney stones and prevents them from turning into stone crystals.
- The effectiveness of exotic fruit in the treatment of digestive disorders, including constipation, diarrhea, bladder infections and jaundice when taken orally.
- Pitahaya also has some anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat arthritis, gout, and rheumatism.
The pitaya fruit also contains a B-complex vitamin such as vitamin B1, thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin. One serving of pitahaya contains more than 100% of our daily requirement for vitamin C, so if you start making smoothies with this wonderful tropical fruit, you will provide your body cells with a good amount of antioxidants that fight free radicals in our body – they are responsible for tissue damage and aging.
It is best to drink pitahaya with water, as the taste of the dragon fruit can make the binding process more difficult, leading to the recurrence of kidney stones. Some people don’t like pitahaya because of its seeds or pits, but the seed oil also has its benefits, such as helping to reduce dark circles under the eyes.
Health benefits include lowering high blood pressure, managing diabetes, stimulating the immune system, and reducing nausea. The fruit is also known for its positive effect on vision, as it is rich in antioxidants that fight free radicals.
Dragon fruit is also known for controlling blood sugar levels as it contains chromium, a mineral that helps the body process glucose for energy.
Pitahaya has been used in some cases as an aphrodisiac, but more research is needed before such an effect can be stated with certainty.
Fruit pitahayas are low in saturated fat and sodium; these are cholesterol-free foods containing good amounts of protein, vitamin A, niacin (vitamin B3), iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc. In addition, pitahayas are rich in dietary fiber – one serving of pitahaya provides about 26 percent of the recommended daily allowance for fiber.
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What does pitaya taste like
Pitahaya tastes like a mixture of strawberries and pears, and the texture of the pulp has a creamy hue. It also has the perfect balance of sweet and tart, making the fruit incredibly juicy and full of flavor that will burst in your mouth when you bite into the dragon fruit.
When the pitahaya is ripe, it will taste sweet, when the pitahaya is still green, the flesh inside will taste sour, and both textures are equally delicious. The pitahaya pit may contain a thin, hard, dark film that must be removed before cutting the pitahaya fruit.
People who eat dragon fruit should be aware that there are two types of edible pitaya: red pitaya and yellow pitaya. They both look equally beautiful, but if you’re eating raw for its nutritional value, go for yellow as it contains more beta-carotene.
The best way to describe the taste is just to say it’s delicious! Many people enjoy the taste so much that they can eat the whole dragon fruit on their own without stopping and sharing with each other. The texture is soft yet firm, making the pitahaya easy to chew. Of course, thanks to its tropical taste, pitahaya is very refreshing at the same time.
Types of pitahaya fruit
There are two main types of pitahaya: red and yellow. Each species has its own unique benefits, so it’s best to eat different types for maximum health benefits.
Dragon fruit is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. The fruit is white on the inside with black dots, contains more vitamin C than oranges, and at least 10 times more beta-carotene than carrots. It also contains some potassium, iron and calcium. Red fruit seeds contain gamma-tocopherol, which can be converted into the more active form of delta-tocopherol in the body. This means that consumption of red pitaya may help reduce cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. In addition, red pitahaya has been linked to anti-cancer activity, which may protect against various types of cancer such as liver, prostate, breast, and colon cancer.
Yellow pitahaya grows in tropical regions of Mexico, Central America and South America. It does well in full sun and needs well-drained soil full of organic matter that should be watered regularly.
This sweet fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which may help lower cholesterol and prevent certain types of cancer, and contains important minerals, magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which are good for the heart, kidneys, and bones. It also contains vitamins A, C, E, B, B2 and some B3. Yellow dragon fruit is low in fat, sodium, and calories, making it suitable for weight loss diets.
Where does dragon fruit grow?
Pitahaya, or dragon eyes, grow in most tropical climates.
The main growing regions today are Southeast Asia and Africa. The Middle East, China, South America and Hawaii also produce fruit, albeit in much smaller quantities. Australia has begun commercial farming of pitahaya over the last decade with favorable growing conditions both inland and along the eastern coastal regions.
How to store dragon fruit for freshness?
If you want to enjoy this exotic fruit for longer, you need to properly store the dragon fruit. Here are some tips:
- Make sure the pitahaya are ripe before storing them in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. When the pitahayas begin to turn red, they are already ripe and ready to eat.
- If you’re buying too many fruits at once, it’s best to refrigerate the pitahayas to slow down the ripening process. Place the pitahaya in a plastic bag and seal tightly. Place the pitahaya in the refrigerator at about 5 degrees Celsius.
- Take the pitahaya out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before eating it to make it easier for you to cut it into cubes or slices before serving on a platter or bowl. You can also add pitahaya fruit to yogurt, ice cream, and salads.
- If the pitaya are already ripe, you should store the pitahaya in an oxygen-free container. You can use mylar bags or sealed mylar bags.
How to use pitaya fruit in cooking?
It can be used in sweet and sour dishes or simply added to smoothies, desserts and more! I suggest you try the simple recipes below because trust me, if you do, you will be addicted to this fruit from the very first taste.
Pitahaya Juice Recipe for Energy and Vitality
Use 2 cups chopped fresh pitahaya + 1 cup fresh orange juice (grapefruit can be substituted) + 1 small grated beetroot and beat until smooth.
Pitahaya pear smoothie recipe
Use 1 cup fresh pear juice (you can use canned food) + 2 cups fresh pitaya pulp and mix for about 30 seconds. Then add a few ice cubes, honey if desired, and beat for another 10 seconds or so until you get a nice smoothie consistency.
The result is four servings of amazing fruit smoothies rich in antioxidants that help fight free radicals in our body.
How to make pitahaya ice cream?
From pitahaya you can get excellent ice cream. This pitahaya ice cream recipe allows you to make two servings of ice cream. Let’s start !
- The first thing you need to do is cut the pitahaya in half and scoop out all of its beautiful flesh with a spoon. After scraping off all the innards of the pitahaya, toss the pulp of the pitahaya into a blender.
- Pitahaya innards contain sugar, so this step is necessary to make pitahaya ice cream. Add 1-2 cups of milk (any type will do) and mix thoroughly – the flesh of the pitahaya should be as smooth as a pudding after it has been properly mixed into the milk.
- When your pitaya pulp mixture is ready, you can add some sugar to taste if you like; however, keep in mind that pitahayas are quite sweet on their own. Don’t add too much sugar as this will change the flavor of the pitahaya ice cream significantly.
- Then place the pitahaya mixture in the freezer for about 4-5 hours or until firm. If you’re in a hurry, pitaya ice cream can be made in the freezer in 30 minutes; however, remember to stir it every 15 minutes for it to happen properly.
- Finally the pitahaya ice cream is ready! All That remains only to put it in an airtight container (if you want to store ice cream) and enjoy!
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