The fruit of the pitaya , offers us from nature therapeutic options for the prevention of diseases, mainly those associated with cellular oxidative damage. The pitahaya , as it is also called, contains interesting chemical and nutritional compounds , which are beneficial to human health.
In the following article, we present in detail the information you need to know about the benefits of this exotic fruit.
What is pitaya?
The pitaya, also known as pitahaya or dragon fruit (Peru) or pitajaya (Colombia), is a fruit native to Central American countries and the Peruvian jungle and can have varieties that differ mainly in their colors such as yellow, purple, red and white.
Its bark is similar to the scales of a dragon, which is why it is also called dragon fruit. Its scientific identification is hylocereus spp. and it is a fruit quite similar to kiwi in flavor and texture, its flesh being very sweet. It is also considered exotic and delicious.
Note: There are various types of this fruit , however there are two main types of pitaya: yellow pitaya that is yellow and with thorns. On the other hand, there is the red pitaya, which has a higher sugar content, being sweeter and is different from the yellow variety, due to the characteristics of its rind.
What are the benefits of pitaya?
The pitaya has a high nutritional and chemical content , which gives it surprising health benefits, especially in the prevention of diseases. Here we present the most relevant:
1. Strengthens the immune system
The main characteristic of this pitaya fruit is that it is a powerful antioxidant, due to the presence of high levels of ascorbic acid and gallic acid, compounds characterized by reducing the attack of free radicals on the body’s cells, boosting the immune system.
To highlight: It also has the participation of another antioxidant compound called betacyanins . A study entitled “Antioxidant, physicochemical and microbiological characteristics of fermented and unfermented juice of three varieties of pitahaya (Hylocereus spp)” , highlights the proportion of this antioxidant in different species of pitahaya. (1)
2. Protects cardiovascular health
Thanks to the antioxidants present in dragon fruit, they promote the elimination of fat, reducing obesity. In addition, niacin, when taken naturally with the consumption of pitaya, can help reduce cholesterol and other fats in the blood and can help raise HDL cholesterol.
Note: The antioxidants present in pitaya also prevent the formation of atheromas in the walls of veins and arteries that can lead to arteriosclerosis.
3. Eliminate fluid retention
The presence of abundant water and minerals such as potassium in dragon fruit prevent the accumulation of fluids in the body, among other reasons, due to excess sodium.
The presence of potassium in the body helps to keep the level of sodium present in the blood balanced, expelling excess salt through urine and thereby eliminating fluid retention.
4. Promotes intestinal transit
The important contribution of fibers from the pitahaya fruit helps to improve the transit through the intestines of nutrients and feces, favoring digestive and intestinal function.
5. Promotes collagen production
The presence of vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2 in the pitaya are the chemical cofactors in the reactions necessary for the synthesis of collagen and that protect the connective tissue.
Note: In an article in News Medical Life Sciences , the intervention of vitamin C in the synthesis of collagen, a vitamin with a high content in pitaya, is described. (two)
6. Fights anemia
The iron content of this fruit helps make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells in different parts of the body.
Note: This mineral prevents the appearance of iron deficiency anemia . An article from the Argentine Society of Pediatrics describes the causes of this type of anemia, due to iron deficiency, a mineral provided by the pitaya fruit. (3)
7. Stimulates weight loss
Dragon fruit, with its effects on lowering blood glucose , eliminating fluid retention and promoting intestinal transit, favors the progressive loss of body weight , and also thanks to the fact that it maintains control over diseases metabolic, due to the presence of antioxidants.
To highlight: A study on the use of betacyanins , a component of the red pitahaya, concludes that the action of this antioxidant on metabolic diseases in in vitro studies is beneficial. (4)
8. Relieves nervous conditions
At this point, the protagonist of the pitaya is its flower, which has been used by traditional medicine as a sedative or tranquilizer . The infusion of these flowers is used to combat some conditions of a nervous nature, such as types of anxiety and insomnia.
What properties does the pitaya have?
The properties of the pitaya come from its high content of vitamins, minerals and antioxidant compounds, which derive in all the aforementioned benefits. We describe them below:
The benefits of vitamins in this fruit are indisputable. In its composition, the content of vitamin C stands out , which is involved in the formation of proteins, red blood cells, bones and teeth, in addition, it favors the immune system due to its antioxidant action.
To highlight: In lower concentration it contains group B vitamins , such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2) and niacin (B3). The highest concentration of vitamin C is found in the red pitahaya.
The mineral composition of this fruit contains calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and phosphorus, the most predominant being phosphorus. Each mineral has an important function within the body.
In addition to vitamin C, it contains another important polyphenol called gallic acid , whose medicinal properties can range from antimicrobial, anticancer, and antiviral activity. This is how an interview conducted by the Conacyt Information Agency (AIC) describes it . (5)
Dragon fruit pulp is considered a good source of fiber, with about 3 grams of fiber per 100 grams of fresh fruit, providing 4% of the daily value for dietary fiber. This fiber helps to improve the digestive function of the body.
How should pitaya be consumed?
The pitahaya is a very versatile fruit and can be combined with other fruits to obtain delicious refreshing drinks, in addition to enhancing its medicinal effects. Here is a commonly used recipe.
dragon fruit juice
Pitaya juice is ideal for cooling off and in turn to prevent many conditions mainly related to human metabolism. Here we explain its preparation:
- dragon fruit
- Lemon juice
- sweetener to taste
Preparation and consumption
- First, clean and cut the pitaya in half and extract the white pulp with the help of a spoon.
- Then, cut it into small pieces and add them to the blender along with the other ingredients.
- If you want it frappe style, add about 4 large ice cubes.
- Then blend for a few minutes
- Then it is served without straining, since the seed will be used for a colon cleanse.
- The pitaya is an exotic and delicious fruit from Central America, low in calories.
- It is a powerful antioxidant.
- This fruit favors the elimination of fats , reducing obesity, blood glucose levels and also favors digestive function.
- Helps in the prevention of iron deficiency anemia and maintains control over metabolic diseases
- It is conferred antimicrobial, anticancer and antiviral activity.
University Professional in the area of Human Resources, Postgraduate in Occupational Health and Hygiene of the Work Environment, 14 years of experience in the area of health. Interested in topics of Psychology, Occupational Health, and General Medicine.