What do you think of when you think of Dragon Fruit? Do you think of an exotic fruit found only in other countries or do you think of a healthy snack that is low in calories? Or, maybe it’s simply your favorite Vitamin water or tea flavor?
Dragon Fruit actually grows on the end of cactus plants (more specifically from the Hylocereus genus of cacti). The cactus plants that produce this fruit are located all over the world in places such as Mexico, Central America, South America and some east and south Asian countries as well.
In some countries, Dragon Fruit is referred to as a Pitaya, or Pitahayas. Without opening a can of worms, I want to point out that this is somewhat misleading because I have had Pitayas in Mexico before and they share similar characteristics to Dragon Fruit but also have their differences. So, if you ever find yourself in a deep conversation with someone on Dragon Fruit or Pitayas, just realize that you could be talking about two somewhat different things!Feeling brave and ready to try this enticing fruit? Most people consume it in a simplistic way similar to how kiwis are consumed. You would slice the fruit in half, scoop out the insides (which are white or red) and eat them just like that! You don’t eat the skin, but the insides make a great low-calorie snack or even salad topper. They have a sweet flavor, but are actually described as being slightly crunchy -- similar to a pear texture-wise.
Where can you find dragon fruits? I buy them at Sprouts and Whole Foods but do not see them there regularly. It’s probably best to call your local store and find out when they receive shipments of them.
According to MyFitnessPal, shown below, the nutritional content of a red Dragon Fruit is low in calories, high in vitamin A, and contains small amounts of Vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein and fiber. In some countries, the Dragon Fruit is consumed in order to regulate blood sugar, smooth the skin, or help cancer patients. I was not able to find recent scientific evidence to back this up, but it’s an interesting belief to be aware of as a health care professional.