The GlobePreneur lifestyle can be very challenging. But we have the opportunity to savor exotic foods around the world. Our GlobePreneurs Luv series brings you a ‘taste’ of some of the amazing experiences, fruits and cuisines from different corners of the globe.
Have you seen and tried a dragon fruit (pitya)? It is indigenous to Central America but is also grown and exported from several Southeast Asian countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam. Dragon fruit is so easy to eat that all you need is a spoon to dig out its goodness, similar to a kiwi. You can also easily bite it right off of the peel for a nutritious quick fix.
Appearance: Some dragon fruits have red or yellow skin (which looks a little like a soft pineapple with spikes) and white or red flesh, but always the beginnings of overlaid leaves, similar to an artichoke, and an abundance of small, black, edible seeds. The flavor is mildly sweet, like a blend of kiwifruit and pear, and it has a crunchy texture.
How to eat: While it may seem a little strange at first, it’s easy to get to the fruit. Simply slice lengthwise and either scoop out the flesh, or quarter it and peel back the leathery skin. Eat only the white part with seeds, removing any residual pink parts, which can be bitter.
Use: Looks beautiful as decoration, food decoration, juices, salads, cake, jelly, savory dishes (e.g. shrimp stir fry)
Care: It may be wise to consume dragon fruit in moderation because it contains fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Benefits: Dragon fruit is one of the best ‘super fruits.’ It contains around 60 calories each and are rich in vitamin C, B1, B2 and B3, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and phosphorus. Some benefits of the dragon fruit include:
1. Low Amount of Cholesterol
Dragon fruit has an extremely low amount of cholesterol, which helps the body break down this fruit quickly and keeps you happy and healthy. It’s the perfect fruit to maintain your weight and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time.
2. Good for Cardiovascular Health
The dragon fruit has an amazing superpower that helps decrease bad cholesterol levels and replenish good levels. It is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats, helping the heart stay in good condition.
3. High Fiber Content
Dragon fruit has a high fiber content, which can assist with poor digestion and constipation. Eating the flesh and seeds, which contain good protein, will keep your body fortified and satisfied.
4. Active Antioxidants
To rid the body of free radicals and cancer-producing properties, you can eat foods that contain antioxidants, including the dragon fruit.
5. Fights Diabetes
The high amount of fiber in dragon fruit can help regulate diabetes, as it can stabilize blood sugar levels by suppressing sugar spikes. However, with any dietary changes or modifications, always consult your doctor.
6. Reduces Signs of Aging
Eating dragon fruits, which contain rich antioxidants, can keep the skin tight and young. We can also make a face mask with the dragon fruit – a great natural alternative to anti-aging masks.
7. Treats Colored Hair
Dragon fruit juice is an excellent source for treating colored hair. By simply putting the juice or a conditioner containing dragon fruit on your scalp, you can protect your chemically treated or colored hair. This will keep the hair follicles open, allowing your hair to breathe and remain healthy and smooth.
8. Suppresses Arthritis
Arthritis directly affects the joints and causes severe irritation and immobility. Adding dragon fruit to your diet can help you with this.
9. Reduces Acne
This treatment is not just for teenagers. Rich in vitamin C, the dragon fruit becomes a great topical ointment. Dragon fruit paste can be applied to your red areas on your face or skin, then rinse with water. For best results, use twice daily.
10. Soothes Sunburned Skin
By combining dragon fruit with cucumber juice and honey, you can create a compound much like aloe that can soothe burned skin. Abundant in vitamin B3, dragon fruit can moisturize sunburned skin and release heat from the affected area.
11. Good for Strong Bones and Teeth
Calcium is present for strong bones and teeth, iron and phosphorus for healthy blood and tissue formation. The benefits are realized in a number of ways, from a strengthened immune system and faster healing of bruises and wounds to fewer respiratory problems.
12. Helps maintain Normal Bodily Function
The seeds of dragon fruits are high in polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) that reduce triglycerides and lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Eating dragon fruit can help the body maintain such normal function such as ridding the body of toxic heavy metals and improved eyesight. Lycopene, responsible for the red color in dragon fruit, has been shown to be linked with a lower prostate cancer risk.
Studies: Detailed studies aimed at determining the relationship between a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, lifetime physical activity, and oxidative DNA damage with prostate cancer were measured. It was found that men between 45 to 54 years of age who did not engage in physical activity had three times the risk of prostate cancer. The conclusion was that a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those containing lycopene, such as dragon fruit, and exercise were found to be protective against the disease.
One study explored with positive results the ability of tropical fruits such as dragon fruit to inhibit human cytochrome P450, which is highly expressed in the liver. (This is also present in other tissues such as in the small intestine, lung, and kidney, and especially linked to congenital glaucoma.)
Conclusion: Want to try a different fruit? Many people love the dragon fruit, especially for its health benefits. You can also try some of these recipes for dragon fruit here. Are you a dragon food fan?