The pitaya fruit, pitahaya or dragon fruit is one of the few that can vary in colors and flavors without the need for grafting or genetic modification. This is due to the variety of plant genera, from the same family, that bear fruit with the same nutritional qualities, but with differences in their coloration.
Would you like to know what are the main uses that are given to the pitaya? We bring you this article so you can discover what pitaya is for and its benefits for our health.
Types of dragon fruit
The pitaya, also called pitahaya or dragon fruit, is a fruit belonging to the species of the Cactaceae family and the Hylocereus and Selenicereus genera. These plants are native to America, but their cultivation has spread throughout the world.
Pitahaya fruits are generally oval in shape and about 8 to 10 cm long and 4 to 6 cm wide. Its color depends on the species, but while it grows it remains always green, then it changes in variations of yellow, red or pink until it reaches maturity. The texture of the fruit on the outside is scaly and pointed, an aspect that gives it the common name of dragon fruit, and inside it has a soft and sweet pulp, which usually seems to be a mixture between the flavor of pear and kiwi. In yellow fruits the pulp is usually white, while in pink and red fruits it can be white or deep pink.
Among the species or types of pitaya you will find the following:
Common Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus)
The common red pitaya or Hylocereus undatus is the most cultivated species of the genus and is used to extract the fruit or as an ornamental plant. This species is generally endemic to Central America, but crops can be found throughout the tropics of the world. The fruit of this plant is crimson red or intense pink, with a scaly and pointed texture. Inside is the pulp, which is generally white with black seeds.
Red pitaya (Hylocereus costaricensis)
The Costa Rican pitaya is a species of cactus native to Central America and some South American countries, such as Venezuela and Colombia. Its fruit is very intense magenta or pink on the outside, with a scaly texture. Inside, you can see the pulp of the same color as its shell and black seeds.
Pink Pitaya (Setenocereus thurberi)
It is a species native to the warm areas of the United States and Mexico, from Arizona, through Baja California to the Sonoran desert in Mexico. The fruits of this species of dragon fruit are pink or red, rounded and have a smooth texture, something that makes them quite different from other species. This fruit contains a pink or red pulp and black seeds.
Yellow pitaya (Hylocereus megalanthus)
The yellow pitaya is native to South America, specifically to the countries of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. Its fruit is yellow on the outside and its pulp, which houses hundreds of tiny black seeds, is grayish white with a slightly sweet taste.
What is pitaya used for?
Dragon fruit is a highly appreciated fruit for its appearance, both external and internal, for its flavor and for its nutritional composition, which provides us with great benefits for our health, which is why it is widely used in the kitchen and to improve some conditions, facilitating their medical treatment. Thus, in the kitchen, it can be used as a dessert or as part of breakfast or a snack and, in fact, it is increasingly seen in restaurants around the world.
The fruit of the pitaya is composed of 84% water and can contain up to 54 calories, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fiber, 8 grams of vitamin C, B and E, fibers and minerals such as calcium, iron and phosphorus. Due to the aforementioned, pitaya is a healthy food that provides many health benefits .
So, what is pitaya good for our health? Here we mention its main benefits:
- Improves the blood system and defenses.
- Helps prevent premature aging.
- Helps lose weight in a healthy way.
- Avoid liquid retention.
Eating pitaya improves the blood system and defenses
Thanks to its high water content and for being a rich source of vitamins, such as vitamin B, C and E , piyata is a fruit that can help in the production of red and white blood cells, which strengthens the blood system and immune system.
In turn, the vitamin C contained in dragon fruit facilitates the absorption of minerals such as iron which, together with the increase in red blood cells, helps prevent or improve anemia processes, so it should be consumed to prevent or overcome anemia, as a support to medical treatment.
Dragon fruit helps prevent premature aging
Containing vitamins C and E and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron, pitahaya is an excellent antioxidant. This property makes it easier for us to combat free radicals that age our body, making it ideal for preventing premature aging. For example, by combating oxidative stress and facilitating the natural production of collagen, taking the antioxidants that this fruit contains, as well as many other foods, will help us avoid the early appearance of wrinkles and skin blemishes, among other aspects.
Helps lose weight in a healthy way
Dragon fruit or pitaya is an ideal fruit to take if you are looking to lose weight in a healthy way. Including this fruit in weight loss diets is usually very effective, as it provides water, has few calories and is very satiating. In addition to this, as it also provides minerals and vitamins, it is a fairly complete food for breakfast or snacks during diets, as well as to eat between meals if you are a little hungry, avoiding eating other types of less healthy food. Of course, to obtain good results you have to combine good eating habits with some exercise and follow the doctor’s instructions.
Avoid liquid retention
The high water content of pitaya, up to 84%, is ideal for hydrating the body and improving blood and lymphatic flow, which facilitates the circulation of liquids, thus avoiding retention. Therefore, including dragon fruit in the diet, apart from helping to lose weight when the problem is accumulated fat, it also serves to lose weight when the problem is fluid retention, whether generalized or localized. In this other post you can find more Fruits against fluid retention.