Dragon Fruit, also known as Pitaya, is popular in Thailand however the fruit originally comes from South America where the cactus plants that bear the fruit grow naturally. There are two main types of Dragon Fruit consumed in Thailand, though the difference between the two only becomes obvious once the fruit has been peeled. On the outside both variations of the fruit have a bright magenta skin with yellowish-green appendages that look like a cross between leaves and spikes, though very soft to the touch. On the inside however, the fruit is either white or a deep red-magenta. Dragon Fruit seeds are numerous throughout the fruit pulp and look similar to poppy seeds. The seeds are easy to chew and swallow, making their presence insignificant when consuming the fruit. The magenta fruit pulp contains concentrated pigment that can also serve as a natural dye.
Known by the scientific name Hylocereus undatus, Dragon Fruit comes from various different types of cactus species that occur naturally in Mexico, Central America and South America, and are grown in many Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. In recent years global demand for Dragon Fruit has continued to rise and therefore farming of the fruit has increased including in the United States. Though Thailand and Vietnam remain the top suppliers of Dragon Fruit worldwide.
While Dragon Fruit is considered to be a super food, it has yet to receive the degree of publicity that other super foods have in recent years. Dragon Fruit should top the list of super foods however, as it contains antioxidants, fiber, large quantities of vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, iron, calcium, and phosphorus, and has been reported to contain anti-inflammatory properties.
At our restaurants Dragon Fruit is a common ingredient to fruit salad dishes and fruit smoothies. Also Dragon Fruit is easy to peel and quick to digest, making it a perfect snack anytime throughout the day or evening. Dragon Fruit is great for preventing dehydration in hot climates, as it contains 90% water.
Among the health benefits that Dragon Fruit is known for are:
- Healing of wounds
- Preventing loss of eyesight
- Hydrating skin
- Lowering cholesterol levels
Next time you see the odd looking magenta colored fruit at the market, think again before moving on. This special fruit with its long history in both the Western and Eastern hemispheres might just be a great new healthy addition to your diet.