Pitahaya (Red Dragon Fruit and Yellow Fruit) – Benefits, How to Eat, and Everything Else You Need to Know About Pitahaya
What Is Dragon Fruit?
Pitahaya or pitaya, also known as red dragon fruit and yellow fruit, is a fruit of several different cactus species from the Americas. Pitaya typically refers to the fruit of the genus Stenocereus, and pitahaya or dragon fruit means the fruit of the genus Selenicereus, formerly known as Hylocereus. Both of them belong to the family Cactaceae. The main places where dragon fruit is cultivated include India, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, United States, and the tropical and subtropical regions.
What is pitaya? “Dragon fruit” is an English name that has been used since 1963, and it resulted from the leather-like skin and the scaly spikes on the exterior of the fruit. The names pitaya and pitahaya are derived from Mexico, pitaya roja in Central America, and northern South America. Surprisingly, the fruit is also known as a strawberry pear. There are two varieties of fruit, which include the yellow and red dragon fruit. The yellow pitahaya is prickly and grown in tropical and tropical highlands like Bolivia, Colombia (Spanish), Central America, Peru, and Ecuador. The scientific names of dragon fruit are Selenicereus Undatus is the scientific name of the pitaya fruit. Dragon fruit is also called Trai Thanh long do in Vietnamese.
So, what is pitaya fruit good for? This fruit contains vitamin C and other antioxidants good for your immune system. Therefore, it boosts the iron levels in your body, which eventually helps to move oxygen throughout your body, providing you with energy. The iron contained in vitamin C is the one that offers a lot of value to your body and improves your immunity. The fruit also helps maintain blood pressure and weight since it’s packed with prebiotics that promotes a healthy gut. There are many other benefits offered by pitahaya that we’ll discuss later on.
Types of Dragon Fruit
There are several types of dragon fruit varieties that you need to know about to help you make the right purchase decision. Check them out below.
1. Red Dragon Fruit
This is the most famous dragon fruit type. It has beautiful pink skin, such as the white dragon fruit, but the only difference is that this one has a burst of red flesh on the inside. The red dragon fruit is native to Costa Rica and planted in many tropical and subtropical locations. It is a hardy plant native to arid tropical regions.
Here are the various varieties of the red dragon fruit.
- Zamorano – This variety is named after a university in Honduras where it was developed. It is a medium-sized red dragon fruit variety that has a mild but sweet flavor.
- Red Jaina – This fruit has an exceptionally deep-red pulp and is particularly juicy. This makes it the best compliment to a good blender.
- Natural mystic – This name is quite surprising, but this is another variety of the red dragon fruit. It was named after the Bob Marley tune and has a truly magical and sweet taste.
- Costa Rican sunset – This variety has a unique name, which makes it particularly memorable. However, it has a slow-growing vine and pleasant taste.
2. Yellow Dragon Fruit
The yellow dragon fruit is another one of the many dragon fruit species, and it doesn’t mind standing out from the crowd. It is a popular exotic fruit that has a sweet and mild taste. The fruit comes from the climbing cactus Hylocereus megalanthus, which grows in Colombia, Ecuador, and the northern parts of South America. The tree is capable of growing up to 15 feet tall.
The fruit is becoming increasingly available in grocery stores in the United States and various online stores, especially during the peak season from October to December. It has a bright yellow color with an oblong shape and knobby skin. Some of the benefits of the yellow dragon fruit include:
- It is rich in dietary fiber with prebiotics for digestive health.
- It includes beneficial minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, and niacin.
- It includes beneficial antioxidants such as vitamin A & C.
- The fruit also includes omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Blue Dragon Fruit
Most people ask, “Is there blue dragon fruit, and is blue dragon fruit real? The answer is yes! Blue dragon fruit exists and real than anyone would think. This type of fruit grows well on the hilly land and is mainly grown in Vietnam. The harvest of the blue dragon fruit runs from April to late October of the lunar calendar. Blue dragon fruit also has red flesh and is rich in vitamins and nutrition.
You also need to classify blue dragon fruit with red flesh before selling. Most of the families in Vietnam with hilly land have now shifted from growing cassava to growing blue dragon fruit since it grows perfectly in such lands. In the hilly areas of Hanoi, Vietnam, the cultivation of dragon fruit has rapidly increased among families. It is believed that the economic value of the blue dragon fruit is two to three times higher than that of the white dragon fruit. Since the dragon fruit with red flesh in the hilly land stays fresh for a long time, it doesn’t require any preservatives or freezing to store it. Therefore, this is one of the many reasons they are most sought after by consumers.
Also, blue dragon fruit grows similar to the other types of dragon fruit – except for the fact that it typically requires hilly land. Therefore, it’s safe to say that it offers economic value and easy to cultivate, store, and grow where the land is accommodative. Therefore, this dragon fruit name is also blue pitaya.
The dragon fruit tree grows best in South America, Indonesia, Southern California, and Taiwan. However, the plant has also recently been seen to grow well in Australia. The fruit grows on cactus plants that love warm and humid climates and need only a little water.
How to Plant Dragon Fruit
When growing the dragon fruit plant, you need to ensure that you’re doing the right thing. Although the fruit may look a bit strange, it tastes great in a tropical fruit salad. So, how does pitaya grow? There are different ways on how you can grow this plant. They include:
Growing the Fruit from Seed
If you want to grow dragon fruit from seeds, you only need minimal equipment but plenty of time. You first need to buy an organic dragon fruit from your local grocery store and scoop out the seeds you’ll use for planting. Next, ensure that you appropriately wash the seeds and dry them overnight before you plant them in a seed-starting tray with moist soil. Finally, give the seeds two weeks to germinate, as that is the recommended period.
You also need to ensure that you water the seedlings sparingly and check if the soil is dry before watering them again. Finally, be patient and don’t expect to have a healthy dragon fruit harvest quickly because it can take 5 or 7 years for a plant grown from seeds to mature appropriately and produce fruit. If you’re surprised, know that you’re not the only one. In fact, this is why many dragon fruit growers prefer growing the fruit from a cutting, as that option takes 1 to 3 years to get fruits.
How to Plant Dragon Fruit Cuttings
To propagate a dragon fruit from cuttings is usually straightforward. First, look for someone with the dragon fruit tree. Second, snip off a 30 cm section of the dragon fruit and allow it to dry for 5 or 6 days. You can also let it dry until the cut end turns white. Once it dries out, you can place the cut facing downward into sandy cacti soil and ensure to water it monthly.
Watering the plant for one month will be enough to send out roots and become comfortable within that environment. It will then continue to grow as you water it with time – as easy as that. However, if you use this method, you also need to exercise patience as it will take between 1 and 3 years to start harvesting the dragon fruits. Nevertheless, that is how to grow dragon fruit easily since it takes a shorter time than growing from seeds.
How to Support Dragon Fruit Plants
If you want to support a small dragon fruit plant, an ideal option would be to use bamboo sticks to prevent the plant from falling. However, if you have a bigger dragon fruit tree that you want to support, you can use plastic, cedar trellis, or cement and hook them up to four plants on either side. Another recommended alternative is to use a tomato cage, as it offers excellent support and is very reliable.
Bamboo sticks are recommended for small dragon fruit trees because they are strong and flexible. However, if you’ve ever tried breaking bamboo sticks, you probably know how hard it is, which is why you should consider them in the first place. A 4 x 4-inch post is also ideal for a bigger dragon fruit tree, although you have to ensure that the post is solid and robust.
How Do You Cut a Dragon Fruit?
If you want to know how to cut dragon fruit, we’ve got you covered. Cutting any tree requires the utmost scrutiny, which is why you need to seek professional advice before embarking on that process. Luckily, this section will go through the process of cutting the fruit so you can have a better understanding of a smoother process. There are three different ways on how to cut up dragon fruit that we’ll highlight below. Check them out.
These are the various ways to consider when you want to cut dragon fruit. Follow these steps below if you want to learn how to cut open a dragon fruit.
- Slice the fruit in half – Take the fruit, place it on a cutting board, and then slice it in half. All you need is a single cut down from the stem to separate the fruit into two halves to reveal the edible white fruit inside.
- Separate the fruit from the skin using a spoon – Take the spoon and slide it between pink and white fruit. Remove the fruit by lifting the spoon since the edible part will easily come away from the skin, which means you won’t need to put too much effort.
- Cut the fruit into cubes – Place the two halves of the fruit on the cutting board and discard the skin. Don’t remove the black seeds in the white fruit as they are edible. Chop the fruit into different sizes for eating. You can eat the dragon fruit raw, blend it into a smoothie or incorporate it into a salad.
- Quarter the dragon fruit – You can also cut the dragon fruit into four quarters.
How to Cut Yellow Dragon Fruit
Want to learn how to cut yellow dragon fruit? Here are the simple steps you need to take.
- Place the yellow dragon fruit on a clean and flat cutting board.
- Cut the fruit from the middle
- Scoop out the flesh of the fruit with a spoon for both halves.
- Chop the flesh of the dragon fruit into slices.
- Eat and enjoy.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
So, what does pitaya taste like? That’s a question many people ask, especially those who have never tasted the fruit and are interested in buying it. Dragon fruit has a mild and sweet taste with floral notes, although it bears some resemblance to cactus pear or kiwifruit. The flesh of the fruit also tends to have a slight crunch that is softer than the one you would find in a watermelon. On the other hand, yellow dragon fruit has a mild flavor and can serve best as a snack or an addition to smoothies.
Due to the mild and sweet flavor of dragon fruit, you can also add it to your salad and enjoy it. All the various types of dragon fruit have a mild taste and flavor, including nutrients, vitamins, and other beneficial factors. The fruits also have different appearances, flesh, and taste, although they all somehow look the same.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Dragon Fruit?
There are plenty of dragon fruit benefits because the fruit is rich in nutrients and vitamins beneficial in your body. Below are some of these benefits.
- It has nutrients – The good thing about this fruit is that it’s low in calories and high in essential vitamins and minerals. Aside from having essential nutrients, dragon fruit also has beneficial plant compounds such as carotenoids, betacyanins, and polyphenols.
- Rich in fiber – Dietary fibers are non-digestible carbohydrates with an extensive list of potential health benefits. In fact, it’s highly recommended for women to consume 25 grams of fiber per day and 38 grams of fiber for men per day. Dragon fruit contains 7 grams of fiber per one-cup serving, which makes it an excellent food source.
- It helps to fight chronic disease – This is one of the best health benefits of dragon fruit. To combat the inflammation, you need to eat antioxidant-rich foods such as dragon fruit. That’s because antioxidants neutralize free radicals, thereby preventing inflammation and cell damage. Dragon fruit contains several types of antioxidants such as vitamin C, carotenoids, and betalains. Additionally, antioxidants also work correctly when eaten in food naturally, instead of taking them as supplements or in pill form.
- Promotes a healthy gut – Your gut houses more than 100 trillion diverse microorganisms, and this includes over 400 species of bacteria. Unfortunately, research shows that the species may negatively impact your health. Luckily, dragon fruit contains prebiotics that potentially improves the balance of good bacteria in your gut. This is because prebiotics is a type of fiber that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Dragon fruit fosters the growth of two families of healthy bacteria, which are the lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.
Yellow Dragon Fruit Health Benefits
so, what are the benefits of yellow dragon fruit? It is rich in magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, making it a good source of dietary fiber, protein, and high amounts of calcium. Other benefits of yellow dragon fruit are that it contains beneficial antioxidants such as vitamin A and C, niacin and also provides iron.
Red Dragon Fruit Benefits
Like other dragon fruit types, the red dragon fruit is rich in flavonoids, antioxidants, betacyanin, and phenolic acid. It also helps to lower blood sugar; it’s naturally fat-free and high in fiber. So, aside from the yellow dragon fruit benefits, red dragon fruit also has many health benefits and is a good food source.
Is dragon fruit good for you?
Yes, dragon fruit has a lot of health benefits and sweet. It is rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants that are good for your immune system. The iron contained in dragon fruit is good for moving oxygen through your body, giving you energy. The vitamin C found in dragon fruit enables your body to take in the iron and use it appropriately.
Can Dogs Eat Dragon Fruit?
Can dog eat dragon fruit, and is it safe for animals? Most people ask this question because they fear the dragon fruit seems to be dangerous. However, the answer to “Can dogs have dragon fruit?” is a resounding yes. Dragon fruit is safe for dogs, and that makes it ideal for them to eat.
The fruit is entirely non-toxic to dogs, which is a relief for dog owners. It’s always fun to add new and exotic fruits to your pet’s diet, and here is a unique chance to do that with dragon fruit. Is dragon fruit good for dogs? Absolutely! Your dog can now safely eat dragon fruit without having to worry – plus, it’s sweet, yummy, and also full of beneficial nutrients.
However, you need to ensure that you prepare the dragon fruit properly before feeding your dog. Just like humans, dogs are also supposed to eat the flesh part of the fruit because the skin is tough and difficult to digest, and it may harm your dog. So, is dragon fruit safe for dogs? Yes, the fruit is safe but avoid giving your dog the fruit’s skin.
Can my dog eat dragon fruit? Yes, your dog can eat the fruit, although many dogs may not enjoy the taste and texture of the fruit since it’s soft and has a mushy texture. But the good news is that since dragon fruit has a sweet taste, many dogs are bound to enjoy it after eating for some time.
Where Is Dragon Fruit Sold?
Where can I buy dragon fruit, or where is dragon fruit sold? You can buy dragon fruit from your nearest grocery store. They have a unique shape, texture, and color and are widely sold nowadays due to their growth in popularity. When planning on buying dragon fruit, search for a specimen that has bright and evenly colored skin. Also, ensure that the fruit has too many brown blotches or even a dry, shriveled stem because that shows it’s ripe. If you buy the fruit and find that it’s too firm, you need to give it a few more days to ripen.
Where to get pitaya fruit online? You can buy pitaya fruit from popular eCommerce stores or a reliable online store. Ensure that the fruit has an evenly-colored skin and a lot of brown blotches because that shows it’s ripe.
There are many factors to consider before eating dragon fruit. However, as you’ve seen from this post, we’ve offered you in-depth information needed to fully understand this type of fruit – its health benefits, features, how it’s grown, and where to buy it. Therefore, you now have the right insights about the fruit if you want to buy it, although you can conduct more research to find out more.