What is Pitahaya? 5 Amazing Benefits of Dragonfruit
Wondering what that tropical fruit with black seeds is?
That exotic fruit is called Pitahaya, also known as Dragon Fruit!
Pitahaya is extremely tasty and has become very popular in countries all over the world over the last decade.
Wanna know more? Read on…
Where does Pitahaya come from?
Dragonfruit (or Pitahaya as it’s originally called in Latin America) is an exotic fruit that is many of us enjoy.
Pitahaya orignates from Central America but is has been long since cultivated in South East Asia, especially in Thailand & Vietnam.
The white fleshed Pitahaya is grown in South East Asia all year round, although peak season is between June & August.
The red fleshed dragon fruit is grown in Sotuh America, however there are no crops between October and April.
It’s a cactus, but don’t worry, it’s completely safe to handle! Because the Pitahaya is part of the cactus family, it contains a lot of water.
Pitahaya loves the rain but handles the dry weather extremely well.
What types are there?
There are 3 main types of Pitahaya (Dragon Fruit) , they are:
- Hylocereus undatus or pitahaya blanca – Red Pinkish skin with a white flesh inside
- Hylocereus costaricensis or pitahaya roja – Red Pinkish skin with a red/pink flesh inside
- Hylocereus megalanthus or pitahaya amarilla – Yellow skin with a white flesh inside
Pitaya and Pitahaya: Are they the same?
These two fruits are easily confused.
Both of these dragon fruit varieties share the same amazing nutritional values and health benefits.
They both grow with a healthy amount of black seeds in them.
Although they are both exotic fruits belonging to the Cactaceae family, they are more different than you know.
The Pitaya comes from the Stenocereus genus, while the Pitahaya is from the Hylocereus (2).
Pitaya (Stenocereus genus)
This unique little fruit grows with thorns around the outside.
They differ from the Pitahaya fruit because of its variety of flesh colours. They have white, purple, red, yellow, red/violet mix pulp (3).
Compared to the Pitahaya, the Pitaya is much sweeter.
The Pitahaya or Dragonfruit, is different in a few ways. Firstly the form of this juicy fruit is oval shaped with green leaves protunding from the outside.
How do you eat Pitahaya?
Also referred to also as the Strawberry Pear, this tasty fruit can be enjoyed on it’s own or with a variety of other exotic fruits.
The Pitahaya really is a superfruit!
The mild, sweet fruit can be peeled and eaten raw (seeds included), or processed into juice, jam, syrup, candy, pastries, and even wine.
Cut in half and scoop or slice and consume as is. Another way is to remove the tips of the pitahaya up to the flesh on both sides and make a cut from top to bottom up to the flesh. This allows for the skin to be pulled off by hand. Now you can cut the flesh into nice and round slices.
The taste resembles melon and kiwi. Suitable for (tropical) fruit salads and is great to decorate dishes and buffets.
Allow to ripen at room temperature or keep in the refrigerator for a few days. Pitahaya is ripe when the skin is pink and the leaves are bright green.
Benefits of Pitahaya Fruit
1. Low in Calories
The Pitahaya fruit contains approximately 102 calories per 170g serving.
Perfect for you if you’re watching your weight and want a healthy but tasty little snack!
What’s more they are extremely filling, so one fruit is more than enough to eat as an after dinner treat or as part of a fruit bowl for breakfast.
Here are the other nutritional facts:
2. Rich in Vitamin C
This super fruit is packed full of Vitamin C so is great for the immune system.
On top of giving you immunity, according to several studies, Pitahaya’s vitamin C content helps to prevent several types of cancer (4).
Oops, did I forget the glowing skin!
3. Packed full of Antioxidants
Pitahaya is rich in antioxidants which help to fight against the free radicals, inflamation and cell damage.
Eat fresh Pitahaya to get the most antioxidant benefits.
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4. High Fibre
If you’re looking for a fruit that’s going to get your digestive system moving, then choose this one!
The Pitahaya fruit is high in dietary fibre which is not only great for digestion, but also help you on your weight loss journey.
5. Healthy dose of Magnesium
Pitahaya is a great source of Magnesium, boasting a huge 18% of the recommended daily amount per 100g.
Magnesium is a mineral that’s crucial to the body’s function.
Magnesium helps keeps the bones healthy and has also been proven to help with brain function.
Amazing Pitahaya (Dragon fruit) Recipes
Pitahaya makes a great addition to your daily meals and can be incorporated in many different ways.
Most of the recipes require you use think pink/red fleshed Pitahaya/Dragon Fruit because of its beautiful vibrant colour.
Not only does it boast all of the health benefits listed above, but it looks pretty damn good too!
Recipe and Images from JarofLemons
1. Dragon Fruit Smoothie Bowl
Calories: 134 kcal
This recipe is great as a snack, for breakfast or dessert.
The vibrant colours of the Pink Pitahaya make this smoothie easy on the eye.
- 2 cups frozen dragon fruit cubes
- 1/3 cup plain greek yogurt (option: coconut yogurt for my vegan friends)
- 1 banana
In a blender, liquefy the ingredients. Serve into two bowls (or freeze half for later). Add toppings of choice and enjoy!
Recipe and Images from Healthygirlkitchen
2. Vegan Pitahaya Smoothie
Calories: 134 kcal
The beautiful colour of the Pitahaya really makes this smoothie sing.
We all love a smoothie that looks good, but this one is really tasty too.
How beautiful is this smoothie?
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 cup frozen mango
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 1 packet pitaya plus
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 1.5 cups almond milk
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds optional
Add all ingredients to blender and blend. Enjoy!
Recipe and Images from GreenSmoothieGourmet
3. Pink Icecream
Calories: 27 kcal per serving
This is a recipe to warm your heart (and possibly freeze your lips).
Yes it’s totally possible to make an ice cream that’s moreish as well as yum!
- 8 frozen almond milk cubes
- 1 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1 cup fresh Pitahaya (pink flesh)
- 1 tsp baobab powder
- 1 tsp lemon juice
Pour milk into ice cube trays and freeze overnight.
Freeze mango chunks overnight.
Chop the Pitahaya and freeze overnight.
Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Let the milk ice cubes thaw for 20 minutes before blending. You want them to be easy to blend. Then, blend all ingredients, pour into the loaf pan and freeze for 1 hour.
Chop it up, blend again. Line the loaf pan with new parchment paper, pour in mixture and freeze again, at least 4 hours or until it reaches a texture you want.
If you have let is freeze overnight, let the mixture thaw 20 minutes or more until it is scoopable.
Recipe and Images from Sunkissed Kitchen
4. Mango Dragon Fruit Refresher
Calories: 33 kcal per serving
If you’re trying to lose weight naturally, but are sick to death of water, this Pitahaya refresher drink is a great option for you.
Similar to the Starbucks dragon drink, this refresher is vibrant and packed full of flavour.
With only 33cals per drink, you can’t go wrong!
- 1/2 cup mango peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup dragon fruit peeled and diced
- 2 green tea bags
- 1 lime juiced, omit if using coconut milk instead of soda water
- soda water optional
- coconut milk optional
- date syrup optional
- Steep 2 green tea bags in 8 ounces of water for 4-5 minutes. Remove tea bags, and allow the tea to cool to room temperature.
- Add the mango, dragonfruit, green tea and lime juice to a blender, and process until a smooth puree forms.
- Add ice to glasses, and fill glasses 2/3 of the way full with the fruit puree.
- Top each glass off with soda water. Alternatively, top each glass off with coconut milk. Use 2-3 tablespoons of canned coconut milk, or 1/3 cup of the coconut milk beverage that comes in a carton.
- If you prefer a sweeter drink, add date syrup (1-2 tablespoons) into the blender along with the fruit puree.
Recipe and Images from Choosing Chia
5. Tropical Coconut Chia Popsicles
Calories: 58 kcal per serving
These tropical coconut chia and dragon fruit popsicles are a great little summer treat.
These pops pack a punch without being overpowering.
The vibrant dragon fruit colour make these popsicles extra appealing and at only 58 calories, you don’t need to feel guilty!
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large mango (or 2 small)
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 pink dragonfruit* (see note)
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice (can sub your favourite juice)
- Pour the can of coconut milk into a bowl with the chia seeds, maple syrup, and vanilla extract and stir until well combined.
- Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Peel and cut the mango and blend together with the orange juice until smooth. Set aside.
- Peel and cut the dragonfruit and blend together with the pineapple juice until smooth. Set aside.
- Fill your popsicle moulds altering between the dragonfruit puree, coconut chia pudding, and mango puree until the moulds are full.
- Place popsicle sticks in the moulds and place in the freezer overnight, or for several hours until frozen.
- Once frozen, I like to run my popsicle moulds under warm water for 15-30 seconds to help remove the pops.
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