Pitaya – What is this “Superfood”?
Last week I stopped at Jamba Juice and saw their new featured item, the Island Pitaya Bowl. I asked the sever, “What is pitaya?” He responded the new Superfruit, i.e. Acai. He offered me a taste since he said it doesn’t taste like acai, with its chocolaty flavor.
I came home and did a little research on pitaya and this is what I learned.
It is also know in English as “dragon fruit,” which I had experienced the last time I visited the Big Island of Hawaii – Aloha!
Pitaya of Pitahaya-producing cacti are originally native to Mexico. They were then transplanted to Central America and other parts of the world.
Sweet pitahayas have a creamy pulp and a delicate aroma. Sour pitayas are commonly eaten in the arid regions of the Americas. They are more sour and refreshing, with juicier flesh and a stronger taste. The pitaya served at Jamba Juice are of the red-skinned fruit with red flesh variety. In size, it is smaller than a cantaloupe. In appearance, it is a vibrant dark red, and covered in broad spiky growths. Some types of the fruit are pink or yellow.
To prepare a pitaya for consumption, the fruit is cut open to expose the flesh. The texture is sometimes compared to the kiwifruit because of its black, crunchy seeds. The flesh, which is eaten raw, is mildly sweet and low in calories. The seeds are consumed with the flesh. It has a nutty taste and is rich in lipids. The meat of the fruit can be strained into wine or other beverages. The leaves can be steeped for a healthy form of tea.
Dragon fruit has a number of health benefits, including:
- Lower cholesterol
- Boost the immune system – HIGH levels of Vitamin C!
- Prevent cancer and heart disease – Contains NO cholesterol
- Aid weight loss
- Improve digestion – high fiber content
- Boost energy
- Defend against bacteria and fungi
- Stimulates cell regeneration and speeds up healing
These health benefits are attributed to the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that the fruit contains. The seeds of the dragon fruit do contain the positive type of fat, which can lead to HDL “good” cholesterol. It not only contains high levels of Vitamin C, but it is also packed with B1, B2 and B3 vitamins. Dragon fruit is a good fruit source of protein. There are NO health risks associated with dragon fruits.
After doing a little research (AND enjoying the tasted of pitaya or dragon fruit), I will be returning to order another Island Pitaya Bowl. I will also be purchasing some of this exotic, healthy fruit at my local market! ENJOY!