Walking into the produce section at your grocery store can seem kinda boring. Sure, there are plenty of healthy — and tasty — fruits and vegetables out there, but it looks like everything is kind of the same.
But look a little closer the next time you shop, and you might find some exotic treats you’ve never seen before, like dragon fruit. This tropical treat isn’t as popular as other exotic fruits like kiwis and mangoes, but it’s gaining in popularity for one reason: It’s delicious and nutritious.
What Is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit comes from the cactus family Hylocereus that’s native to Central America and only blooms at night. It’s sold under various names, including pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear.
Though the outside of the fruit looks like a small red-colored artichoke, the inside has white flesh with black spots. Most say dragon fruit tastes like a cross between a pear and a kiwi.
Dragon fruit packs a lot of nutrition into a small package.
A 100-gram serving of dragon fruit contains:
- Calories – 60
- Protein – 2.0 gram
- Carbohydrates – 9.0 grams
- Fat – 2.0 gram
- Fiber – 1.5 grams
It’s also rich in essential nutrients like vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and beta-carotene.
Dragon fruit is also packed with antioxidants like betalains, flavonoids, and hydroxycinnamates, all compounds shown to help the immune system and neutralize free radicals in the body.
Another antioxidant, lycopene, has been shown in research studies to help fight against prostate and cervical cancers by neutralizing free radicals that contribute to the development of this disease.
In addition, dragon fruit may:
- Help with weight loss. The fiber found in dragon fruit can help keep you full and satisfied, and this may promote weight loss by helping to prevent overeating. Fiber also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, which is essential if you are trying to lose weight because it can reduce the cravings that often lead to snacking between meals.
- Lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Fiber is shown to prevent heart disease. Several studies have shown that a diet rich in fiber from various sources can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent.
- Protect against cell damage. The glutathione found in dragon fruit is also believed to help protect your cells from damage that could lead to a blood clot.
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit isn’t something you can buy, put in the refrigerator, and forget about for a week. The weird-looking little fruit is highly perishable and must be stored in the fridge — and you have to eat it within a few days. Otherwise, it’ll spoil.
But the good news is that it’s really easy to eat dragon fruit — simply look for a fruit with bright red skin that has just a bit of softness when you squeeze it. Once you’re ready to eat the fruit, all you have to do is cut it with a sharp knife, dig out the flesh using a spoon and slice it into small pieces.
Dragon Fruit Recipes to Try
While dragon fruit is pretty tasty when you eat it plain, it’s also a great addition to many recipes. We rounded up some easy recipes we found around the web to help inspire your foray into the tropical fruit.