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Monday, July 2, 2012

DRAGONFRUIT: HEALTH BENEFITS AND USES OF DRAGONFRUIT


DRAGONFRUIT, PITAYA, HYLOCEREUS UNDATUS  
Dragonfruit is the fruit of a night-flowering cactus which produces the largest flowers of any cactus, which are a foot long and ten inches wide. As a member of the Cactaceae family of plants dragonfruit is related to the cactus which bears prickly pears, but this fruit is huge in comparison to a prickly pear. It originated in South America but no wild plants have been so far found. It is now cultivated in several Asian countries including Malaya and the Philippines.
  At first sight the plant may not appear to be a cactus as it has long branched trailing ribbons of green with spikes on the ribs. It is three sided and can produce aerial roots which help it to climb trees and trellises. It is quite happy hanging from pots in cultivation and can also creep along the ground.

  The fruit of this variety of dragonfruit is red-skinned with white flesh full of black edible seeds which contain the fats and protein in the fruit. You slice open the fruit and scoop out the flesh. In other species of plant such as Selinocereus megalanthus, the fruit has a yellow skin and white flesh, while there is also a red pulp variety which comes from Hylocereus polyrhizus.
  The flesh can be eaten raw or cooked in jellies, jams and preserves, or you can use it raw in fruit salads or in smoothies and so on. It is said to taste a little like a kiwi fruit or perhaps a watermelon.
  This fruit is being called a wonder fruit, although it has about as many vitamins and minerals as a watermelon and contains about as much water. The “wonder” of it is that it is rich in photoalbumins which have potent antioxidant properties; hence it is good for the cardiovascular system and to protect the body from the scavenging free-radicals which can cause cancer.                                           
  It contains small amounts of the B-complex vitamins B3 and B1, but does contain a slightly higher amount of B2 (riboflavin) It also contains vitamins A in the form of carotene and C in the form of ascorbic acid. As for minerals it has calcium, phosphorous and iron.

  These small amounts of vitamins and minerals make the 100 gram serving good for people on a weight loss diet as that portion only has 60 calories, and of course fruit is very good for boosting the immune system and the B-complex vitamins and the others, make the fruit good for the skin, eyes, hair, bones and teeth.
  However it won’t on its own help you to lose weight, and like any other fruit it is definitely good for your health. That being said, it is higher than other fruit in photoalbumins perhaps, so does have potent antioxidant properties, giving it an edge over other fruit.
  

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