Pitaya commonly referred to as Dragon Fruit is considered one of nature’s most amazing creations. A member of the cactus species, the pitaya has a succulent stem, beautiful luminous flowers that give the impression of exploding flames and produces delicious fruit that resembles a rosebud. The dragon fruit is indigenous to Central America although several Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam and Thailand have commercialized its production. As with other cactuses, the pitaya plant thrives in arid areas.
The dragon fruit resembles a soft pineapple and has spikes growing out of its red, pink, or yellow skin. The dragon fruit also has scale-like or overlaid leaves that look like the artichoke. Inside, the dragon fruit is moist with a crunchy texture and contains a lot of small black edible seeds. Its flavor feels like a mix of pear and kiwi fruit- mildly sweet.
Trying the dragon fruit for the first time may feel a little intimidating but it is really easy to prepare. Use a knife to slice the fruit lengthwise so as to expose the inside. At this point, you can choose to remove the flesh or proceed to slice it further into quarters noting to peel off the rubbery skin. The pink part of the fruit tends to be bitter so it is best to separate it from the sweeter white flesh that contains the seeds and discard it.
What Studies Say About Dragon Fruit
Several studies have been conducted to determine the role of the dragon fruit in enhancing overall health and well-being. In a 2011 study by the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, researchers reviewed the relationship between oxidative DNA damage associated with prostate cancer and a lifetime physical activity that includes also includes a healthy diet containing vegetables and fruits.
They concluded that exercise and a fruit and vegetable rich diet, especially one that contained Lycopene such as dragon fruit provided protection against the disease.
Drug Metabolism and Disposition published a study in 2004 whose aim was to find out more about the impact of tropical fruits such as dragon fruit on health because prior to the study there was limited information on them. The results of the study were positive as researchers found out that the dragon fruit and other tropical have the capacity to hinder the action of human cytochrome P450.
The human cytochrome P450 is mostly found in the liver but can also appear in other tissues including the lungs, kidneys and small intestines. Mutations of this substance have been linked with the development of congenital glaucoma.