Have you ever gone down the exotic fruit aisle of your local grocery store and marvelled at the exquisite fruits you’ve never heard about but are a little unsure about if they’re worth trying?
One of the easiest fruits to try has to be the dragon fruit, otherwise known as ‘pitaya’. It’s indigenous to Mexico, but has been cultivated in many other countries as well.
Pitaya fruits have a leathery skin and a very mild-tasting flesh. The variety I have shown in the photos has a bright red/pink skin and a clean white flesh speckled with black seeds, much like the seeds of kiwi. The flavour is gentle.
You can slice the pitaya in several ways depending on your preference. I cut mine in half and used a spoon to scoop the flesh out, then cut it into cubes with a chef knife. Next time, I might consider making a fruit salad using a small melon baller to scoop little spheres of pitaya alongside other mild fruits like honeydew, kiwi, watermelon, or cantaloupe. The pitaya would add a beautiful and unexpected contrast to the mix!
Check out this smoothie bowl idea using dragon fruit; it’s so pretty!
Or, if you’re looking for a fruit salad, just see for yourself how nice the pitaya looks with watermelon and kiwi berries!
What about the nutritional value of pitaya? Here’s the quick facts for about 100 g of pitaya:
- Beta carotene (about 1.4 mg) – converts to Vitamin A in the body, which is important for vision, cell differentiation, bone growth, healthy skin, and plays an important role for immune function as an antioxidant (a free radical fighter and inflammation reducer!)
- Vitamin C (up to 24 mg) – used in the body to heal wounds, repair skin and other tissues, it helps with the absorption of iron, and also is an antioxidant!
- Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in the seeds are healthy fat sources that are important for health, such as by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol).
- Calcium (6-10 mg) which is important for bone and tooth health. It’s also an electrolyte used for muscle contraction.
- Other vitamins and minerals are found in smaller amounts, such as niacin, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, etc
If you are ever intrigued by something you see at the grocery store, remember there are dozens of great ideas online to help you put together something new and exciting. That’s half the battle! If you have fun with your fruit, you’re more likely to eat it. So give it a shot!
Calcium | MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/calcium.html
Facts about polyunsaturated fats. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000747.htm
Nightblooming Cactus – Hylocereus undatus – Details. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from http://eol.org/pages/487275/details
Ortiz-Hernandez, Y. D., & Carrillo-Salazar, J. A. (2012). Pitahaya (Hylocereus spp.): a short review/Pitaya (Hylocereus spp.): uma revisao. Comunicata Scientiae, 3(4), 220+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.subzero.lib.uoguelph.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=guel77241&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA338117237&asid=e05e72d27f2838a8e1099181957f167a
Vitamin A: MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/vitamina.html
Vitamin C. (n.d.). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002404.htm