What is the Pitahaya?
To begin with, a distinction should be made between Pitaya and Pitahaya . Surely you have read these two ways of referring to dragon fruit. Both are produced by cacti native to Central America. The two are very similar, but from different genres.
The best known is the Pitahaya or dragon fruit. The Pitahaya is a tropical fruit with white flesh full of black seeds and green bumps similar to those we imagine for dragon skin.
There are two great varieties:
- Red pitahaya , scaly and with the skin of that color
- Yellow pitahaya , less striking than the previous one but with more commercial possibilities given its greater resistance and sweet taste
Then we have the Pitaya (without h) with two other variants: the Pitaya with yellow skin and white flesh, and the red Pitaya with red flesh and rind also between reddish and pink.
In any case, and apart from its exotic appearance, what has made the Pitahaya the superfood of foodies, that is, the favorite food of lovers of good food and healthy food, are the nutritional properties that are attributed to him.
Properties of the Pitahaya
We will try not to overwhelm you with the numerous properties of the pitahaya, since we know that it is a relatively new food and that the beginnings always cost a bit. But the truth is that its flavor added to the properties of the Pitaya makes us want to buy pitahaya and incorporate this fruit into our diet.
And it is that the Pitahaya is, to begin with, a fruit with a high water content. Of every 100 g, 85 g are water. On the other hand, its caloric value is very low. It only provides 45 calories per 100 g.
In addition, pitahaya provides micronutrients such as vitamins C, and vitamins of group B, A (beta-carotene) as well as minerals (phosphorus, calcium, iron).
The pitahaya also has phenols, which are what give it its characteristic coloration. But they do not stop there, because they perform a very valuable antioxidant action, in addition to providing essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and 6) and captin. Captina is the dominant element in the seeds of the pitahaya or dragon fruit.
It is also rich in fiber and antioxidants . Antioxidants protect the cell from free radicals linked to chronic diseases and aging.
We mention three groups of antioxidant compounds present in pitahaya:
- Betalains : They are mainly present in the pulp. According to different investigations, they prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
- Hydroxycinnamate : laboratory tests relate it to anticancer activity.
- Flavonoids – is a diverse group of antioxidants. They help reduce the risk of heart disease and vascular accidents.
Having mentioned these compounds, we are aware that knowing these data may be of interest to nutritionists, but that it will tell most of us little. That is why we want to explain in the following section the health benefits in which the properties of pitahaya translate.
Benefits of Consuming Pitahaya
The properties of the pitahaya that we have just mentioned acquire more value for us when we realize what it means in our day to day. Below we summarize the most relevant benefits of consuming pitahaya.
- The prebiotic fiber of the pitahaya helps the good state of the intestinal microbiota and controls blood sugar levels.
- It is indicated in digestive disorders such as irritable colon or gastritis because it is rich in fibers, such as soluble fiber. Not so much in cases of diverticulosis, since the seeds of the pulp could lodge in the diverticula.
- Iron and vitamin C , which allows its rapid and better absorption, collaborate to prevent and/or combat iron deficiency anemia.
- Magnesium acts in favor of the nervous system, muscles and skeleton.
- The antioxidants in pitahaya or dragon fruit fight inflammation and premature aging.
- The high water content provides hydration and has a diuretic effect. Avoid liquid retention.
- Captina , which we talked about earlier, tones the heart muscle and seems to be useful against arrhythmias.
- It has antihistamine properties , which is why it is indicated in pathologies of the respiratory tract such as asthma, sinusitis or rhinitis.
- Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C, which helps correct vision.
- Dragon fruit phenols are compounds that limit the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
We believe that these 10 unleashed benefits of pitahaya properties make it more than worthy of the title of “superfood”. The truth is that this is a term that could identify a good number of fruits with which dragon fruit shares properties and benefits.
Since we want you to be able to take full advantage of the properties of the pitahaya, we give you some tips for the correct storage of this fruit. Thus these properties will remain intact much longer.
By the way, these tips would actually apply to other fruits as well. In another article we discuss the subject in more depth. Also the one of How to cultivate the pitahaya? What does pitahaya taste like? or How to eat pitahaya?
Let’s go with the tips:
- Do not cut the fruit before storing it in the pantry or on the counter. That will only accelerate its deterioration.
- The pitahaya can remain out of the fridge for two or three days.
- In the fridge it will last about two weeks . You will have to seal it in an airtight bag or container so that other foods in the refrigerator do not affect it.
- If the fruit is already cut , it will remain in good condition for a couple of days . If you want to slow down the process. Drizzle with lemon juice.
- Assuming you wanted to preserve dragon fruit for a long time, the option would be to freeze it by dicing it . In any case, although it is true that freezing the dragon fruit will not spoil or diminish the properties of the pitahaya, it will alter its flavor and texture. For this reason, you can also take advantage of it by making smoothies, ice creams or preserves.
Pitahaya in the Kitchen
Although we do not know it that much, pitahaya is not different from other fruits, neither in the different ways of consuming it nor in which of them offers the greatest nutritional value.
We make the most of the properties of the pitahaya – actually any fruit – eating it raw as a whole piece.
The pitahaya must be ripe, which will be evidenced by an intense and bright skin color. To the touch it should not feel very hard, but not excessively soft either.
- Cut it in half and empty the white pulp or red pulp with a spoon, depending on the variety. The black seeds inside are edible . Another alternative is to peel it and cut it into small pieces.
- The raw intake of the pitahaya is what guarantees extracting from the fruit all the properties of the pitahaya and all the health benefits it holds. But it is by no means the only possibility. Shakes, sorbets, jams, jellies, yogurts, smoothies. All these options will allow you to take advantage of the nutritional treasure of this tropical fruit.
- The daily consumption of fruits is essential. There is no healthy diet that can do without it. It is not only about quantity but about the quality of the fruit and variety.
- Regarding quality, we recommend following the annual fruit calendar to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables online .
- The electronic transactions in which the farmer is on one side and the consumer on the other, without more intermediaries, ensure the receipt of recently collected goods and in full properties. This is also true regarding the properties of pitahaya.
- As for variety, we think it’s a great idea to add new ones to the list of fruits that we usually eat. But not because they are of exotic origin or have been labeled as superfoods, but because it is the way to incorporate into our diet the benefits provided by different fruits that we had not tried before.