Have you ever seen a dragon fruit? This exotic, beautiful fruit, also known as the pitaya, actually comes from a cactus plant. I saw this on the streets of Chinatown in New York this past weekend. Even though I had no idea what it was, I was drawn to its exotic and beautiful color.
I had to buy one.
After doing some research, I realized that this stuff is truly a superfood. Not only is it low in calories and high in fiber, it's packed with vitamins and antioxidants. Studies have confirmed the idea that has been floating around for awhile, that dragon fruit actually helps lower blood glucose levels in those with hyperglycemia (elevated glucose levels). Furthermore, Anand-Swarup et al demonstrated in rats that dragon fruit "increased the oxidative defense and protected aorta from hyperglycemic damage in rats in whom diabetes was induced."
Because it's a tropical fruit (native to Central America but widely grown in Southeast Asia), dragon fruit is relatively rare in the East Coast. Even in Chinatown, I paid $7 for the one fruit!
How to Eat a Dragon Fruit
A dragon fruit is ready to eat when the skin yields slightly when pressed, similar to a mango. It tastes better when chilled, so I put mine in the refrigerator overnight.
First, cut the dragon fruit in half. So pretty! Looks like cookies & cream ice cream inside!
Slice it up, and you can eat it plain if you want. The flavor is rather light and a bit bland. It's mostly water inside (after all, it is a cactus fruit!). You can eat the seeds. It's similar to a kiwi in some ways, but much less tart, much less sweet, and much less flavorful over all. The flesh is pretty soft, soft enough to scoop with a spoon.
I found that it tasted much better if I just tossed the cubes with a bit of lemon juice. I squeezed half a lemon over the entire bunch. I also added just a tiny bit of sea salt to bring out the flavor (don't add too much or else it begins to taste kinda salty!). I actually bet it would taste fantastic if mixed with other fruits in a fruit salad. It would present beautifully as well.
It's refreshing, light, and for some reason, I feel really good after eating it. Maybe it's part-psychological, but I feel really healthy - well hydrated, full, and satisfied.
It's not the most flavorful of fruits, but it's super healthy, fights a myriad of diseases, and is just so pretty to look at!
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