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Make way for the new, aptly-named superfruit, the dragonfruit! From pomegranates to açai berries, from goji berries to yumberries, the world has seen plenty of Superfruits break into the market. Well, here comes another. The dragonfruit, also known as pitaya or pitahaya, is the latest entrant to the world of Superfruits. Native to Central and South America and cultivated in places as diverse as South East Asia and Australia, this fruit from the cactus species come in three varieties – red skin with red flesh (widely considered to be the best-tasting), red skin with white flesh and yellow skin with white flesh.
From the cactus family, specifically the genus Hylocereus or sweet pitayas, dragonfruit is football-shaped and has a leathery, leafy skin that is deep red or pink in color. It comes in three varieties, red flesh, white flesh and yellow flesh, all of which are embedded with hundreds of black seeds and have a mild, sweet taste. The best-tasting variety is the one with red flesh, which is succulent when eaten.
One dragonfruit can weigh between 150 and 600g, but with its thick covering, only about 60 percent is edible. To enjoy dragonfruits, it is best to eat the creamy pulp cold. The middle part is the sweetest, and after cutting the fruits in half, you just have to spoon the flesh out. Dragonfruits are common in Asia (particularly in Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines) and in Central and South America. They are among the many wonder fruits that are said to provide multiple health benefits. In addition, dragonfruits help protect the environment because they absorb carbon dioxide at nighttime, and then release oxygen to purify the air.
If you are looking for fruits that are filling and delicious, but will help keep your weight in check, dragonfruits are a perfect choice. A 100g serving of dragonfruit has only 60 calories: 18 calories from fat (all unsaturated), 8 calories from protein and 34 calories from carbohydrates. Dragonfruits do not have complex carbohydrates, so they can be easily broken down by the body.
Dragonfruits do not contain cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fat, so regular consumption will help manage your blood pressure and control your cholesterol levels. The seeds of dragonfruits are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) that reduce triglycerides and lower the risk of cardiovascular disorder.
Dragonfruits are high in fiber, so regular consumption can help avoid constipation, improve your digestive health and help you reduce weight.
Dragonfruits are rich in vitamin C, containing 9mg per serving that is equivalent to 10 percent of the daily value. Thus, eating dragonfruits helps strengthen your immune system and promotes faster healing of bruises and wounds. In fact, regular eating of dragonfruits will help ward off chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma and cough. Dragonfruits also contain B vitamins such as B1 for better carbohydrate metabolism, B2 for recovery and improvement of appetite, and B3 for reducing bad cholesterol while improving the skin condition.
Dragonfruits are also packed with minerals such as calcium for stronger bones and teeth, phosphorus for tissue formation and iron for healthy blood. One dragonfruit contains approximately 8.8g of calcium, 36.1mg of phosphorus and 0.65mg of iron.
Dragonfruits contain phytoalbumins, which have antioxidant properties that help prevent the formation of cancer cells. In addition, dragonfruits are also known to increase the excretion of heavy metal toxins from the body.
Lycopene is also present in dragonfruits, and this is the pigment responsible for their red color. Lycopene is said to prevent prostate cancer.
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