Pitahaya is a strange but beautiful fruit that is actually part of the cactus family. The first time you encounter this hot pink (and sometimes yellow) fruit, you’ll probably think to yourself, “what the heck is that, and how in the world do you eat that?” This nutrient-dense fruit packs a long list of health benefits, as well as being quite delicious! In this short and sweet fruit feature, you’ll learn where to find it, how to eat it, and why you should enjoy some pitahaya whenever you come across it (that is if you like it, which you will)!
Other names for pitahaya
Costa Rican night-blooming cactus
Lady of the Night
Where is pitahaya from?
Ancient Chinese legend claims that “dragon fruit was created thousands of years ago by a dragon in battle who blew a burst of fire containing the fruit.” But historians believe it originated in Central America. Pitahaya is widely available in Costa Rica and throughout Central America. It is commercially grown in Hawaii, Florida, California, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Israel. It is commonly found at farmer’s markets in Costa Rica, as well as on smoothie and smoothie bowl menus around the country.
How do you eat it?
To enjoy the fruit in its raw and untouched form, all you have to do is slice it open longways and scoop it out with a spoon. You can eat the teeny tiny seeds that are abundant in the pink, white, or purple flesh. This exotic fruit is juicy and has a mildly sweet taste.
Pitahaya is especially enjoyable in a smoothie or smoothie bowl. It is so good this way that pitahaya bowls have gained international popularity. Pitahaya blends really well with and is complemented by papaya, coconut, bananas, and blueberries.
What are the health benefits of eating pitahaya?
• Pitahaya is an excellent source of potassium, which is essential for cellular, electrical, and nerve function in the body. Potassium is also a vital supporter of heart and kidney health.
• It is loaded with vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that also helps your body absorb iron, fight off free radicals, produce collagen, and promote healthy and radiant skin.
• The high fiber and antioxidants in pitahaya also help to reduce plaque build-up in your arteries, which is essential for blood circulation and heart health.
• Dragon fruit contains hydroxycinnamates, which has been linked to warding off cancer.
• The seeds in the flesh are rich in omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids, which are really good for your heart.
• Overall, dragon fruit is fantastic for your heart, skin, bones, kidneys, and immune system.
So, whether you are in Costa Rica or you see it somewhere else, make sure you treat yourself to a pitahaya whenever you get a chance!