Is dragon fruit a super food, a hippie fad, or the coolest fruit you didn’t know you were missing out on? We’re here to help you explore this crazy looking fruit, and to talk about why it’s part of our family’s weekly diet.
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WHAT IS DRAGON FRUIT?
So, you’re cruising through the grocery store, and you stop short in front of this odd looking, brightly colored fruit that appears to be covered in scales. It might be bright pinkish red or even yellow.
It’s one of the weirdest things you can find in the produce section.
And you should definitely buy it and eat it.
That crazy looking thing is a Dragon Fruit and its incredible health benefits (hello, super food!) and light, refreshing taste might show you once again why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
So what is a Dragon Fruit? It’s basically a tropical-type fruit that is originally native to southern Mexico and Central America. Its domain has grown across the globe, and it’s really become a special favorite in Southeast Asia where it is a staple fruit.
GROWING THE DRAGON FRUIT PLANT
This stunning fruit is also known across the world as pitaya, the pitahaya, or the strawberry pear. The Dragon Fruit plant itself is a type of cactus, but it is a tropical cactus, and requires rich organic soil, and slightly more frequent watering.
While Dragon Fruit plants can technically be grown from seeds inside the fruit, you’ll have better luck if you try to grow one from plant cuttings instead.
You can also order a Dragon Fruit plant to be delivered to your door!
A Dragon Fruit plant will require regular watering, but when in doubt, under watering is better than over watering. Try to let the soil dry out between watering, so only water once or twice a week. Once your Dragon Fruit plant grows new limbs, they will be thinner and you can gently bend one to know when to water it. If it flexes easily, its time to water. If its stiff, leave it be.
The Dragon Fruit plant can survive a variety of temperatures, but it needs to be grown in a container if you are not in a warmer region. The plant can survive a light frost, but needs to be brought in during extended freezing temperatures.
Dragon Fruit is also a climbing plant, so make sure you have a sturdy post or trellis for it to attach to.
Get more tips on growing Dragon Fruit.
WHAT DOES DRAGON FRUIT TASTE LIKE?
Three main types of Dragon Fruit are available – two are bright pink, or almost red, and one is yellow. Inside they have either snow white or bright red flesh with small black seeds dotted throughout (like a kiwi!).
Okay, but what does Dragon Fruit taste like? Regardless of which variety you select, the inside texture is slightly crunchy (thanks to the little seeds), and the flavor resembles a cross between a pear and a kiwi. The yellow variety tends to not have as much flavor as the pink, and the seeds in the yellow fruit are often bigger.
And the bigger and riper the fruit, the more pronounced the flavor.
CHOOSING AND STORING YOUR DRAGON FRUIT
When you decide to take the plunge and give Dragon Fruit a try, you want to be sure you choose the absolute best one you can find. I find them to be rather expensive at a regular grocery store, so check an Asian market for Dragon Fruit if you have one nearby.
They’re usually available year-round, although the official season is summer to early Autumn in the US.
While the dragon scales can be a bit confusing when you examine it, you want to choose a fruit with smooth skin that is relatively even colored. When it starts to get overripe, the skin will start to get blotchy looking, so pass these by.
For texture, you want something that is similar to a fresh mango – it gives slightly under your thumb when you press gently, but it doesn’t feel smushy. If it’s firm, it may need a few days to become riper before eating. But even then, dragon fruit doesn’t actually do much ripening after being picked, so you really want one with lots of red (or yellow) and just a little green on the scales.
When you get your fruit home, store it as you would other fruits – on the counter. It will stay fresh there for a few days (longer if it was a bit under-ripe when you bought it), but if you need to store it beyond a few days, put it in a plastic bag in the fridge.
While the plastic bag might seem unusual, this mild flavored fruit tends to absorb other flavors, especially in the fridge. To keep things from getting funky, go for the bag.
HOW TO CUT DRAGON FRUIT
At first, it might seem a little confusing to figure out how to cut Dragon Fruit, but simply cut it in half and just for a moment, appreciate the stunning contrast between the color of the skin and the flesh that almost seems to glow.
Like an avocado, you can use a spoon to run around the inside of the skin and scoop out the flesh in one piece. You can then chop it into cubes or slices, whatever looks good to you. While the skin is inedible, some people like to put the fruit back into the skin after chopping to show off that stunning contrast of colors.
HOW TO EAT DRAGON FRUIT
I won’t tell if you just eat it right out of the skin with a spoon.
One of our favorite ways, besides just eating it fresh with a spoon, is freezing it to make Dragon Fruit soft serve. You can use the frozen fruit in a fruit soft serve machine, or blend it in your blender with a bit of milk or almond milk.
Regardless of how you decide to eat Dragon Fruit, it’s best if you do it right after cutting it open for the best flavor and texture.
DRAGON FRUIT BEAUTY HACKS
While we’ll talk about the countless health benefits of Dragon Fruit in a moment, this fruit can be a powerful weapon for your exterior as well.
First, the juice can be used to help improve moisture and protection of color treated hair when used as a hair serum. Simply work the juice through hair from the scalp to the ends, let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse to protect your pricey color for even longer.
Those suffering from acne or other skin blemishes can apply the fruit’s juice to the skin or just let slices of fruit sit on blemished areas for a few minutes. Rinse, and you should see the redness improved thanks to high levels of Vitamin C.
I’ve ordered this sunscreen to try because, well, why not?!
DRAGON FRUIT NUTRITION
While Dragon Fruit is interesting to look at and tasty, it is really the health benefits that has everyone taking a closer look at this little fruit.
Dragon Fruit nutritional benefits are amazing, offering considerable bang for your nutritional buck – an incredible number of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients while still being very low in calories.
This powerhouse is packed with Vitamin C, various B vitamins, carotene, protein, and even Omega 3 and Omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. There are not many places to find that combination of body health in one package.
The fruit itself is high in fiber which supports digestive health, and well, we could all probably use a little more fiber in our diets (know what I mean?).
Various other compounds are present in the flesh that both act as a mild laxative and as prebiotics in the digestive track.
Studies of Dragon Fruit have shown it may improve pre-diabetes symptoms, help regulate blood sugar, and support cardiovascular health by lowering triglycerides (bad cholesterol).
It can also boost and support your immune system and help you maintain your youthful glow. Both Vitamin C and phosphorus present in the fruit help cells repair themselves which minimize the signs of aging on the skin. They can also help with hemorrhoids, which makes dragon fruit one of my favorite fruits to eat after child birth!
PREVENTING CANCER WITH DRAGON FRUIT?
While the above benefits are important, one of the biggest reason Dragon Fruit has earned it’s “super food” name is due to its link to cancer prevention.
Several different antioxidants that are important in preventing cell damage that can lead to cancer are present in Dragon Fruit. However, the major cancer-preventative compound it contains is lycopene. Lycopene has been linked to positive outcomes for a wide variety of cancers, including prostate and ovarian cancers.
Some studies have shown that when treated with lycopene, cancer cells struggle to survive, making foods like Dragon Fruit an important player in the diet of both cancer patients but also, those of us who would like to avoid becoming cancer patients.
That said, there is still a lot more research that needs to be done! Please don’t base your cancer treatment or health plans on the research paper surfing of a blogger. Do your own research, talk with doctors and researchers, and make a complete plan with your own health care providers.
At this point, I know what you’re saying – OK! This fruit is amazing. Tell me what to make with it! Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are some of my favorite Dragon Fruit recipes that you can try today.
Or if you want a quick start dragon fruit recipe that you can make year round, try this Pitaya Powder Pink Smoothie Bowl Recipe.
Whether you enjoy it for health, flavor, or simply because you’re looking for something different, Dragon Fruit might just be your new grocery store love – fear the dragon scales no longer!
- 1 Dragon Fruit
- 1/4 cup milk, or any milk substitute
- Slice the Dragon Fruit in half and scoop it out with a spoon.
- Cut the Dragon Fruit into slices or chunks, then spread out on a baking sheet in the freezer until firm (about 2 hours).
- Process the frozen fruit in a soft serve machine, or place in a high powered blender with 1/4 cup-1/2 cup milk of your choice and blend until creamy.
- Eat from a bowl or from the Dragon Fruit skins.
Nutrition facts are for estimation purposes only, and include 1/4 cup whole milk.
Serving Size:4 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 24Cholesterol: 1mgSodium: 21mgCarbohydrates: 2gSugar: 2g
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.