You Have To Call Me Dragon...Fruit

by Travis Gerhart
You Have To Call Me Dragon...Fruit

My first experience with Dragon Fruit was while on vacation in Hawaii. We were returning from Big Beach (Makena State Park) and found this gem in Kihei when an online search for Açaí bowls pointed us in the direction of an Island favorite. Brekkie Bowls was an oasis on this sun-scorched afternoon. There wasn't a wrong choice on the menu. While I had heard of Dragon fruit, I wasn't familiar with its other names. I selected the option that featured pitaya. After all, new experiences are what a first-time trip to Hawaii is all about.

A luminescent lavender-pink bowl of goodness was presented after a few minutes. The first spoonful was sweet but not overly so, more quenching with a hint of sweetness, and incredibly refreshing. I returned a few more times that trip, and has since become a favorite. 

What Is Dragon Fruit?

Dragon fruit, also known as Pitaya or Pitahaya, is native to Central and South America and is a plant family Cactaceae member. Dragon fruit does not contain spines; instead, it possesses a tacky and dense exterior with ridges, approximately the size of a small football...NERF turbo anyone?

Preferring to grow in tropical regions, its current domestic production source is Hawaii and South Florida, and internationally from Taiwan, Malaysia, and the Caribbean Islands.

The Three Common Pitayas

There are several different varietals of dragon fruit. I would soon find out that the lavender-pink version was one of three types commonly found—all with a different appearance, taste profile, and antioxidant capacity.

The three common pitayas - Red, Yellow, White

Red Dragon Fruit

Hylocereus costaricensis – also known as pitaya roja, has a reddish-pink peel with a vibrant purplish-red interior and black seeds.

Yellow Dragon Fruit

Hylocereus megalanthus – also known as pitaya amarilla, has a yellow exterior with pale fruit and distinctive black seeds.

White Dragon Fruit

Hylocereus undatus – also known as pitaya blanca, has a vibrant pink surface with white fruit and contrasting seeds.

Dragon fruit is a nutrient-dense superfruit that has powerful properties...

Dragon fruit is considered a nutrient-dense superfruit given its relatively elevated magnesium and fiber levels while boasting low-calorie content.

100 grams of pitaya, which is approximately 3.5 ounces, contains [1]:

60 Calories
1.2 g of protein
13 g of carbs
3 g of dietary fiber
40 mg of Magnesium - 10 percent DV
0.1 mg of Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - 8 percent DV
0.7 mg of Iron - 4 percent DV
2.5 mg Vitamin C - 3 percent DV
0.4 mg Vitamin B3 (niacin) - 2 percent DV
18 mg Calcium - 1 percent DV

Where Does Dragon Fruit Really Stand Out?

Where dragon fruit really stands out is in its reported content of bioactive antioxidant compounds (betacyanins and betaxanthins) as well as high-levels of polyphenols and vitamin C. [2-4]

Researchers found that the white dragon fruit contained higher vitamin C levels, while red dragon fruit contained a higher concentration of betalains (betacyanins and betaxanthins). The darker the interior fruit yielded a higher concentration of these antioxidant compounds. [5]

Betalains (betacyanins and betaxanthins) are red and yellow color pigments of indole derivatives. Their color can range from red-violet to yellow to orange. Similarly, betalains create the red and orange pigment characteristic of beets. The strength of these bioactive antioxidants is three times higher than anthocyanins.

Well-known anthocyanins include black raspberries, black currants, blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, black plums, red radish, and red raspberries. [6]

Betalains Target Gene Expression of Heat-Shock Proteins and Nrf2 Pathway

Betalains also appear to exhibit anti-aging and antioxidant compounds in vivo that effectively modify the expression of the longevity genes of the Nrf2 pathway. Betalains showed involvement in longevity and oxidative stress resistance pathways leading to overexpression of heat-shock protein genes, demonstrating a host of anti-aging effects. [7]

Additionally, betalains have been shown to exhibit antidiabetic activity, promote cardiovascular health, promote liver health, exhibit antiviral and antimicrobial activity, promote healthy brain function, and possess potential anti-cancer activity. [8-16]

Dragon fruit also contains Lycopene, a naturally occurring red pigment found in tomatoes, pink grapefruit, watermelon, papaya, guava, and other fruits. Lycopene has been shown to be effective against cancer cells. In fact, some research indicates that a higher intake of lycopene-rich foods could be associated with a lower risk of developing prostate cancer [17] and reducing the growth and spread of ovarian cancer cells. [18]

How To Eat

The easiest way to eat a dragon fruit is to cut it in half lengthwise and scoop out the interior like an avocado. The peel is still sturdy at this point and can be repurposed as your pitaya bowl container for chopped dragon fruit. However, my favorite method is this smoothie recipe that combines dragon fruit, fresh RAW coconut water and flesh, pineapple, and mushroom extracts for a wellness and longevity powerhouse. 

Zen Dragon Smoothie Recipe with Reishi & Chaga

Final Thoughts

There are many fruits out there that boast health-promoting benefits. Our job at Best Health Co is to guide you down the selection path to maximize your effort, energy, and value. And maybe expose you to some new stuff along the way. Our focus in these posts will highlight the bioactive components of the foods you select, to offer insight to potential lesser-known benefits, and empower you to make better decisions for your health.

Dragon fruit makes our Besupervital® foods list. We feel that it's an excellent superfruit when in season, which is June through September, with peak months being August and September. [19]

Nourish the mind, body, and soul. Besupervital®

Travis Gerhart, DC, BS, BA, RYT-500

Travis Gerhart, DC, BS, BA, RYT-500

Owner & Founder of Best Health Co, offering premium extracts to nourish the mind, body, & soul.
Dr. Gerhart has done extensive study in biochemistry, phytochemistry, biomechanics, epigenetics, longevity, and aging.
@besthealthco @travis.gerhart @besupervital

*Statements made on this website have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information provided by this website or this company is not a substitute for individual medical advice.

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