Dragon fruit has got to be one of the most spectacular and exotic looking fruits on the face of this planet – actually, it looks like it could be from another planet!
Want to immerse yourself for a whole week in exploring, tasting and eating exotic fruits like this? Check out our group or private raw food retreats here in Hawaii.
This far out fruit comes from a veining cactus growing around the tropic and subtropics. It’s native to Mexico and grows in South America but is largely grown in Asia where it is known as pitaya or pitahaya. You can find this unique dragon fruit in local grocery stores throughout North America, as their thick skin makes for easy shipping.
Dragon fruit comes in three main variety of colors; bright pinkish-red that when you cut open you’re either mesmerized by a deep fuchsia, a pure milky white translucent flesh. There’s also a yellow variety with the same whitish color inside (like shown above). It’s leathery skin is covered with beautiful green ribbon-like protuberances. All varieties come packed with a multitudes of edible, crunchy black seeds which lends this fruit it’s higher-than-average fat content.
Dragon fruit has a unique and mild flavor although you can expect different tastes across varieties ranging from mildly sour to sweet. I personally find the sweetest kind to be the small yellow kind also called yellow pitaya, which I was surprised to find at a grocery store while visiting my mom in Ontario, Canada. Some say it tastes like a kiwi and some say it doesn’t have much of a flavor at all, yet bursts with juice with every bite. I personally think it has a clean and sweet flavor; sweeter in the center fading towards the edge.
While visiting Maui, my husband and I were lucky to see a huge row of flowering cactus. The massive lacy dragon fruit flowers tend to bloom only at night under the moonlight and most flowers must be pollinated by hand or the flowers fall off and wilt in the heat of the sun. Living on the Big Island of Hawaii, we’re lucky to see dragon fruit quite regularly at our local markets.
Nutritional Benefits of Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is surprisingly high in fat and protein relative to most fruit, mostly due to it’s abundant amount of edible seeds (this makes sense considered nuts and seeds are generally a high source of fat and protein.) Dragon fruit is also an excellent source of natural sodium (for those of you who don’t eat salt) and also provides a good dose of iron, vitamin C and of course, fibre and water.
The macro-nutrient breakdown of dragon fruit:
- Carbohydrates: 64%
- Protein: 13.5%
- Fat: 22.5%
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
To pick a ripe dragon fruit find one that is not bruised or browning and give it a light and gentle squeeze. If it’s slightly soft to the touch, similar to a ripe kiwi, it is ready to enjoy. If it is still too firm let it ripen a few more days.
To eat the fruit, simply cut down the center and spoon it directly out of the skin. Nature’s perfect package!
Try to eat it mindfully, savoring and enjoying every bite.
Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii,
Laura Dawn, lover of Real Food.