Pitaya: The New Exotic Fruit with Extreme Health Benefits

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Whenever I hear someone refer to superfoods as only rare and expensive items, often available in powders and tinctures, I always roll my eyes. Please. To me, superfoods are abundant everywhere. My definition of superfoods are that they are whole plant foods that have numerous health benefits, and include a whole array of phytonutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. “Superfoods” have powerful healing qualities and should be a core staple of our daily diet… but once again, they are abundant everywhere. To me, spinach is a superfood. So are kale, lemons, sunflower seeds, etc. They do not have to come from across the world.

All that being said, I still like to talk about “exotic” fruits as well, which too can fall into the superfoods category. By exotic, they may grow in some far off places resides the US, but I guess it mostly means that they look a whole lot different than typical oranges and apples. It can be fun to mix different plant foods into your diet, and it is also good to get a wide range. I was thinking about this one in particular, Pitaya, aka dragon fruit, because I saw it here in Los Angeles. Seeing it reminded me of also eating it in Thailand, where I would get it (along with a bounty of other Asian fruit) at the street markets practically every day I was there.

It is one weird looking and oddly beautiful fruit. On the outside, Pitaya has a deep pinkish red color (although one variety of the fruit is golden yellow) with green scaly leaves. On the inside (the part you eat) you will find flesh ranging from white to deep red spotted with small seeds.

Dragon Fruit Nutrition

Grown in California, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia, Pitaya is the fruit of a cactus plant. Nutrition for the dragon fruit includes:

  • 60 calories per 100 gram serving
  • 1 gram of fiber per serving
  • 9 grams of carbohydrates per serving
  • The fruit’s edible seeds contain heart healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Studies show dragon fruit is a significant source of antioxidants, which can prevent free radical damage that can lead to premature aging and disease.
  • The fruit is high in many important micronutrients such as vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin A.

Pitaya Health Benefits

There are interesting studies featuring this exotic fruit, which show that  pitaya may have other health benefits, as well.

  • One study showed that dragon fruit had a notable impact on oxidative stress and aortic stiffness in diabetic rats, suggesting the fruit may be beneficial at preventing complications associated with diabetes.
  • The same study indicates regular consumption of dragon fruit may lower the risks of developing heart disease and developing high blood pressure.
  • Dragon fruit is high in antioxidants. Studies show that antioxidants may be effective at lowering risk of certain types of cancer.
  • The seeds contain omega-3 fats. A great deal of research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can fight inflammation and autoimmune diseases.
  • Because of its nutritional makeup, including antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber, pitaya is a beauty-enhancing fruit.

Eating Pitaya

Because pitaya is a fruit, it moves very rapidly through your digestive system. In The Beauty Detox Solution, I recommend eating fruit first thing in the day or on an empty stomach so your body can make the most of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes. You don’t want fruit to get stuck beyond a heavier food, where it can begin to ferment in your system and create toxins. This same rule goes for dragon fruit.

You can eat pitaya alone, or you can include it in delicious smoothies.

Pitaya Smoothie

  • Flesh of one dragon fruit
  • 1 cup banana
  • 1 cup coconut water
  • 1″ ginger nub water

You can also eat the pitaya by itself. To prepare a pitaya:

  1. Cut the fruit in half, lengthwise.
  2. Using a large spoon, scoop out the pitaya’s flesh.
  3. Trim away any extra inedible skin.
  4. Cut into cubes and eat or use in smoothies or fruit salads.

Taste and Texture

Dragon fruit has a pretty mild taste, especially in contrast to its rather extreme looks! It is similar to melon in its taste and texture, and it’s not too sweet. The flavor is quite delicate with pear-like notes. If you buy a pink-fleshed pitaya, your smoothies will have a vibrant, beautiful color.

Where to Buy

I’ve seen dragon fruit in the produce aisle at many grocery stores. You can also find it at Whole Foods, in produce stands, or in its dried form at many natural food stores. I recommend buying organic dragon fruit and reading dried fruit labels to ensure no sugar or chemicals have been added.

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54 Responses to “Pitaya: The New Exotic Fruit with Extreme Health Benefits

  1. The Root Ginger has a irregular Shape with Nubs in every Direction . A One Inch Nub is the term used to indicate the Volume of Ginger Root to be Sliced and Crushed to provide aSpicey Juice to Teas and Cooking and Juice mixes like Smoothies … I imagine that Patahaya/Dragon Fruit and Banana would Tatse Fantastic with The Addition of This Tangy Ginger Fluid … I love Milky ginger Tea … Which is said to improve Your Digestion !

  2. Janet, I am in France and found the red and yellow varieties in Leclerc in Poitiers but I’ve never seen it before. It is 19.90€ a kilo so expensive. I bought two yellow ones and i’ve just eaten one for breakfast. and I’m considering frying the seeds of the other one and trying to grow it.

  3. I grow dragon fruit and have found it easy to grow. We first grew it up two 4 by 4 posts because that’s the way we saw them growing on the net. We wrapped the posts in wide strips of burlap and as we wrapped it, we filled the burlap with composted manure and then tacked it at the end. Planted the bottom of the post with all the Pitaya cutitngs we could fit. Threw some extras in the ground of a nearby cabbage palm. Got our first two fruits in about 7 months. I put composted manure about every 2-3 months around them. They are planted in a raised area in normal Florida sandy soil. Heavy rains wash away nutrients so I use a lot of manure. This is my 2nd year of growing pitaya. The night-blooming flowers are huge but last only one night. This year (2nd) so far I have harvested 12 pitayas and count another 15 plus growing. What a surprise to find the ‘rejects’ growing to the TOP of the palm tree & now producing another 3 fruits! Never put any fertilizer on them other than palm tree fertilizer for the tree. They seem to have no problems with pests. We had enormous amounts of rain this year so I did have one pitaya that split open. I had a hard time deciding when they were ripe but just gently pressed and picked when they felt very slightly soft. Pips grow easily; I just cut off a piece at the ‘connections ‘(?) and push in ground. Make sure they have something to grow on. I have so many plants now that I just planted a double row on a lattice fence and an arbor. I found this site because I have so many pitayas that I was looking for recipes to use them up! LOL Thought I would share my experience with planting. I think I may have to sell some plants on eBay!

  4. I started a couple plants in a half wine barrel next to my patio 5 years ago. It is finally producing a decent amount of fruit. I live in Southern California about 50 miles from the ocean. They grow pretty easily here. You need cross a pollinator for some varieties, so I grew both red and a pink variety. They bloom at night then dye back that day. I have to pollinate by hand, literally. This year I got some really good size fruit.

    The red ones do have a slightly different taste then the pink, but both are good. They is so refreshing during the summer months.

  5. Guys please i don’t want be offensive but not called pitaya
    We call this kind of fruit pitahaya back in my town i am from a small town called citala jalisco and if you want to know what the real pitaya is search in google and you will see it’s almost the same but not the same remember pitaya and pitahaya
    And both of them a real good i just came back from my vacation in mexico and i ate a lots of them the real pitaya just grow up in may that is the only reason why i go every may to mexico i am been trying to buy a pitaya plant to see if i can make it grow in my yard but is to hard to find one i bought a pitahaya plant on amazon last week hope i can make it grow up in my back yard. Okay that’s all guys keep enjoying this fruit it’s so good the best ones grow up in jalisco mexico

  6. I would like to know where to get the trees, at they say they grow good in California. I have already ordered Goji berry plants 2 of them and they do good in large pots, so even people in apartments can grow them. I got them for less than $7.00 a piece, where I purchased them they come in a Coco pot it is called. So you can plant them right in the ground or pot to stop shock of the plant. Since Goji berries(Dried) are going for $20.00 a pound it would be good to grow them. Now I think I will try the Dragon fruit tree, of course I would have to try them to see if my family likes them before I do. There are all kinds of exotic fruits, and it is well known where both of these plants come from Asia, the people live a long and healthy life.

  7. Hi Kimberley,

    The Pitaya Both the white and red are also grown in Australia, in FNQ and Northern TerritoryThe yellow one is also here but more rare to find – I have started off some of each of these in my garden. in fact I am very fortunate to live near to one of the farms :)

    Yours in health & wellness

    Mary.

  8. Kim,

    Don’t know where else to write this so I’m writing here. I am so passionate about what you do and I have all the girls in my family drinking GGS. I have my self have benefited from following The Beauty Detox and have not only lost weight but feel amazing!! I love what you do so much that I want to work for you!!!!!!! Please tell me if that’s at all possible. That would make my dreams come true!!!!

  9. Just tried this the other day for the first time – the one I got wasn’t the best tasting but I am really shocked at all the health benefits so I’d def eat it again.

  10. I’m currently living in Thailand (like you, Kimberly, I decided to take time off and travel the world!) and eat a LOT of dragon fruit, usually in my breakfast fruit salad with banana and apple. Thanks for all the information on its health benefits!

  11. Hi Kim, I was wondering what you think of butter. I know you are vegan and I’ve read your blogs about dairy, but I’ve heard and read that butter is very healthy from different sources. Of course if anything I’m sure it should be from grass-fed cows and organic. Do you think having some butter is okay since I have acne-prone skin?

    • Would you drink a glass of pigs milk?

      Dairy industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. They will tell you anything to keep you hooked.

      Try Nuttelex.
      So yummy and buttery.

      :)

  12. Hi Kimbery . I cant wait for you store to come to nyc. I had a beauty questions.. while eatting healthy as outlined in you book can this cure skin tags ? how are they form toxics in body also?

    Thank you for your knowledge :)

  13. Hi Kimberley,

    I am suffering from bad acne around my cheeks on my face I need help to what foods will be great please help.

    • Avoid all animal products, foods that have chemicals/pesticides etc.

      Cleanse your body and live the way nature intended. I guarantee you will feel/look great.

      Helpful hint: Rub organic garlic clove I your trouble areas and enjoy the extreme natural benefits.

      Remember, nature is all your body needs. No face creams, scrubs etc.

      Companies want your money and affect your natural ability to heal and glow.
      X

  14. Hey Kimberly, just a couple of comments.
    1. I drink your GGS every morning, a mixture of fruit and veg, yet above you say to eat fruit first thing and not to mix it so it isn’t slowed in the digestive tract?

  15. I have had this fruit. It is very light and refreshing. Glad to see the nutrition facts on it. Thanks Kim!
    Denise

  16. How ironic you posted about this cool fruit. I just bought one today. :)

    I’m 47 and have never heard of it until earlier this year and so this will be my first time tasting it. It looks yummy. And now I know how healthy it is. Thanks for posting this }}i{{

  17. Most Asian markets carry dragon fruit. The best place for exotic fruit is Little Saigon, in Westminister California. You will find storesthat only sell fruit. When dragon fruits are in season they are usually grown by the shop owners. They are very easy to grow and the flowers are huge. Fruit from your own yard will always taste better than store bought. Enjoy

  18. Hi Kim!

    Love the article, thanks for telling everyone how amazing Pitaya is! The Pitaya in the Pitaya Bowl pictured your article came from me! I work directly with my Pitaya farmers in Nicaragua, and help them with their organic certifications. We process the fruit in a solar-powered facility and only hire single-mothers. You can be sure that it was sourced in a healthy ethical way. We sell our USDA Certified Organic Pitaya to cafe’s in California.

    Viva Pitaya!

    -Chuck
    Founder of Pitaya Plus

    • Good on you Chuck !!! That is a wonderful thing you are doing. I am from Perth in Western Australia, and I find this all so inspiring. I am a new fruit and vegetable farmer myself (in my own backyard)…and draw my inspiration from reading things like this. and Kimberly,…if you ever branch out into Australia,…. and in Perth,…I would love to work for you as I am so passionate about what you do that i tell everyone that will listen to buy your book, get on your website, educate yourselves on good foods with Kim and you will feel so much better in yourself, you can’t go wrong!! ..keep up the great work. You are an angel sent from heaven to heal us. May you have continued success and happiness. xx And congrats on your engagement too xxx

    • Hi Chuck,

      What is the price of Pitahaya in USA ? I buy these in Ecuador at the supermarket and they are $ 8 per kilo. Are they difficult to grow ? This seems like a steep price when a pineapple costs $ 1.70 at most for similar weight.

      Am considering planting pitahaya in the desert in Ecuador so appreciate any info you can share with me.

      Thanks,

      Gloria

    • Great story on the environmental strategies you are using. So many people are promoting the 100 mile diet that completely ignores the good news coming out of Central and South America. When we think we are helping to promote environmental sustainability by buying local, we completely ignore the wholesome and sustainable farming practices of people like you. Somehow you need to get the word out that the 100 mile diet is a sham and doesn’t help the environment and is not sustainable in any way. We cannot grow fruits and vegetables in the winter and we only have one season to grow so if we don’t import from farmers in Nicaragua, we go without wholesome foods like the Dragon Fruit. I hope you can get the word out about sustainable and efficient farming practices and the need for better life cycle analysis of the 100 mile diet. Consumers in Northern climates cannot survive without fruits and vegetable from our southern cousins. Keep up the good work.

  19. This is so funny because I just ate one the other day , the red kind, and everyone was asking me what it was. There a bit more common in Australia where you can find them in most fruit shops, supermarkets and even in store brought fruit salads but people dont really know anything about them. There so nice and refreshing!

  20. Hello Ms. Kim;

    I am now 47years old and I am starting to get the bulge in the middle. What can I eat and should not eat to prevent this?

    • Have you done any colon cleansing? If not, that would probably help. You can get colonics, do enemas at home and/or use a magnesium-oxygen supplement which is fantastic.

    • Avoid all animal products and purchase organic whenever possible.

      Drink lots of lemon water daily, and a raw garlic clove should be eaten early in the day.

      Natural is best for you x

  21. Plenty available here in Thailand, both red/purple and white.

    We are quite succesful with slicing them than dehydrating them with low temperatures (<43 degrees C, I think <115 degrees F) and selling them as snacks.

    And suddenly this great looking but rather bland fruit becomes a great snack and a great experience, the seeds suddenly add a texture like sesame in the mouth.

    Do try,

    Thanks for all your information, very helpful, kindest regards,

    Martin Smetsers
    Pura Organic Foods Ltd., Phuket, Thailand

  22. Hi Kimberly,

    I am so happy that you mentioned eating this particular fruit in Thailand because I am traveling there next month! Did you have a hard time finding other healthy options? I’ve heard so many stories of people getting sick from street vendors or salads, but that’s what I’m looking forward to eating! Any advice on the subject would be amazing!

    Thank you!! x

  23. The Pitaya Smoothie recipe calls for 1″ Ginger Nub Water. Can you please explain what that is! Thanks so much. P.S. I loved your book and have been faithfully drinking and enjoying your GGS!

  24. I love Dragonfruit! I remember as a child eating this while visiting India! Going to try and look for it here on the central california coast!!! thanks for this article! The pictures look divine!

  25. That is my favorite color in the world! Is that coconut on top of the bananas? I’ve been wondering if coconut is ok to mix with fruit……unsure if it’s a fruit or a nut :). And along those lines, what of other foods like nut milks, chia, cacao, etc. in combination with fruit?

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