DRAGON FRUIT

Pitaya Fruit, Pitahaya Fruit or commonly known as the Dragon fruit is among the most nutritious and wonderful exotic fruits. It is a favorite to many, particularly people of Asian origin. It features a mouth watering light sweet taste, an intense shape and color, not forgetting its outstanding flowers. In addition to being tasty and refreshing, this beautiful fruit boasts of a lot of water and other vital minerals with varied nutritional ingredients.

Due to its vital nutrients, the Pitaya fruit is suitable for all diets as it supplements fiber which is best for laxative and the liver. Similarly, people who have high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity have attested to the fruit’s goodness. Recent findings show that if an obese person eats a Pitahaya fruit on a regular basis, it naturally reduces the weight considerably, creating a well balanced body without compromising on the individual’s health.

POLLINATION OF THE DRAGON FRUIT

The dragon fruit is precisely of the Hycocereus undatus family, thus making it one of the widespread red dragon fruit. Typically, the fruit has red pulp, or red flesh if you like. The fruit originates from the dragon fruit cactus plant, which usually appears like vines. Unlike day pollination done by bees, it is surprising to note that this nutritious and tasty fruit blooms at night where pollination is caused by nocturnal living things such as bats and moths. What is more, it blooms a few times annually, blossoming with the now synonymous huge aromatic buds.

Despite the fact that people avert and dislike bats, they play a very important role in the pollination and formation of these dragon fruit cactus plants. This is because the dragonfruit cactus plant will only come out successfully after a complete pollination process.

Note that even dragonfruit plants that carry out self pollination fail to create a dragonfruit cactus if they don’t get the assistance of the bats. In simple terms, the bats carry out a successful and proper pollination process of the dragonfruit cactus plant to bring out the delectable fruits that we relish.

You can stay healthy by eating a dried or fresh Pitaya. For the people suffering from diabetes, a dry or fresh Pitaya guarantees one of blood glucose control. Basically, a dry dragonfruit has about 10 times the punch of a fresh one, with an amazing chewy feel. To get a simple, healthy chewy texture, blend in a dried pitahaya into your salads. On the other hand, a fresh dragon fruit features a soft creamy feel.

That said, you can eat dragonfruit as a desert, raw, of you can make its juice and use in cocktails. Cocktails of ice cream are an example, or you can even ferment the cocktail into a mouthwatering healthy alcoholic beverage. In Taiwan for instance, the Pitaya fruit is used by diabetics to substitute food for rice and to enhance the fiber content of the diet.

Generally, the fruit needs a temperate rainfall of around 600-1300mm and a maximum temperature of 38-40 degrees Celsius. Be advised that too much rainfall leads to flower drop and the fruits will rot.

By and large, it requires a tropical climate, especially when growing for commercial purposes to have successful and fruitful plantation. Red dragon fruit featuring red skin and red flesh, pitaya fruit featuring white flesh and yellow skin and the red pitaya fruit featuring white flesh and red skin are the three most common varieties cultivated for commercial purposes. Additionally, they all feature the dragon fruit pulp or flesh filled up with tiny black seedlings, normally eaten together with the fruit.

On the other side, if you want to grow the pitaya fruits for non commercial purposes, you can easily do that at home by using the seedlings found in the fruits that you eat, since you aren’t growing them large scale.

Getting started is quite easy, but you maybe required to learn a bit more about how to grow the fruit to mellowness to produce pitaya cactus fruit successfully. Basically, both commercial and non commercial growers may find short blossoming durations and night blossoming makes pollination of your Dragon fruit difficult. As mentioned above, successful pollination is by nocturnal creatures such as bats and moths, and a set back maybe you aren’t living in an area where these creatures are many.

The biggest challenge for the hobbyist is getting recurring successful fruitings of mature pitaya fruit cactus. Nonetheless, wherever part of the world you are, it can be fun to grow pitaya fruits. You can use cuttings or seeds; beware though that the seeds may take a bit longer.
You are likely to spot the Hylocereus undatus/ocamponis/polyrhizus in Malaysia and Taiwan and the Hylocereus, Selenicereus and Cereus genera in Vietnam, Israel and Central America. Since the demand for the dragon fruit is high, the projections of it becoming a plantation crop are very high.

While cultivating the climbing cacti, one may need wooden posts, trellis, metal rods and concrete posts to support the plants, which is not necessary while cultivating the columnar cacti. The climatic conditions of the area you are cultivating, in addition to the cultural and economic criteria will basically determine the supporting structures that you will use.

1. Low Cholesterol
Dragon fruit is extremely low is terms of cholesterol, as well as saturated and trans fats. Regular consumption of the fruit can not only be refreshing but also help you in maintaining a healthy heart in the long run. Those of you who are on a weight lossregime, it may be a good idea to include it in your diet. Moreover, the seeds present in the fruit are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for your well-being.

2. High in Fiber
According to a study done by the researchers at the University of Leeds, increasing consumption of fibre-rich foods can lower risk of both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and coronary heart disease (CHD). Dragon fruit is a good source of dietary fiber, therefore it is not only great for the heart, but also helps in maintaining blood pressure and weight.

3. Antioxidant Rich

Vibrant in colour, which also means that dragon fruit is filled with phytonutrients that can provide you your much required dose of antioxidants. Antioxidants help in fighting free radicals which could damage your cells and even lead to cancer. A diet rich in antioxidants is said to keep your heart healthy and the skin young.

4. Heart Healthy

Because dragon fruits are loaded with fiber and antioxidants, they both contribute to keeping the heart healthy and young. They fight against plaque clogging up in the arteries, maintaining the blood circulation in the body.

5. Skin Care
The exotic fruit is commonly used in natural remedies for beauty because of its high antioxidant content as well as vitamins. Ancient beauty practices in the southeast Asian countries believe that making a paste of dragon fruit flesh and applying it regularly on the face can help in slowing down the process of ageing

, making you look younger. The paste is also used in treating acne and sunburn.

6. High Source of Potassium

Dragon fruit is loaded with essential minerals, particularly potassium and calcium which help in maintaining bone structure. Regular consumption of potassium is extremely vital for cellular, electrical, nervous functions of our body. In simpler words, potassium plays a key role in maintaining water content, pH or acid balance in our body. According to a study done by Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, if you are a diabetic, having a diet rich in potassium may help you protect your heart and kidney.

7. Vitamin C
Since dragon fruit is a good source of vitamin C, it helps in strengthening immunity, aiding the absorption of iron by the body, producing collagen which makes our teeth healthier, and promoting a healthy and glowing skin.

Here are the nutrition facts for a serving of 3.5 ounces, or 100 grams:

  • Calories: 52.
  • Protein: 1.1 gram.
  • Fat: 0.4 grams.
  • Carbs: 11 grams.
  • Fiber: 3 grams.
  • Vitamin C: 34% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 10.6% of the RDI.
  • Thiamine: 2.7% of the RDI.
  • Riboflavin: 2.9% of the RDI.

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