Food ruts happen. You might be in one right now. Need some help to get out?
Mira Ilic, MS, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian, says that dragon fruit is a healthy and colourful fruit that is good for your body and your taste buds.
Are you ready to try something new? Here’s how to eat dragon fruit when it’s in season, from summer to the beginning of fall.
What is a dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit, also called pitaya or strawberry pear, looks like something out of a Dr Seuss book: It looks like a pink oval with green scales, which is why it’s called a “dragon.” Inside, the flesh is white, and there are small black seeds. The strange way the fruit looks also makes me think of a “psychedelic artichoke.”
“It’s a fruit from a cactus that grows in warm places. It can be found all over the world, but it comes from Mexico and South America, says Ilic.
What does dragon fruit taste like?
“If you like kiwi fruit and pears, you might also like dragon fruit. It’s crunchy and sweet.”
There are many different sizes and colours of dragon fruits:
- Pink skin covers white meat. This is the most common kind, but it doesn’t taste very sweet. Some of the brands that sell it are Alice, Cosmic Charlie, and Guyute.
- Pink skin with flesh that is red or pink. This type is sold in stores under names like Red Jaina and Bloody Mary. It is bigger and sweeter than its cousin with white flesh.
- It has pink skin and purple flesh. Look in stores for the name “American Beauty.”
- Yellow skin, white insides. The hardest dragon fruit to find is the yellow one, which is also the sweetest.
What’s good about eating dragon fruit
The dragon fruit’s flesh has few calories and no fat. There are also a lot of:
Ilic says that dragon fruit is a great way to get fibre. Adults should get at least 25 grammes of fibre every day, and a 1-cup serving of dragon fruit has 7 grammes.
“Fiber may be good for your digestive and heart health,” says Ilic. “Fiber also makes you feel full, which can help you lose weight. People are more likely to keep a healthy weight if they eat whole, fibre-rich foods.
Dragon fruit is full of vitamins and minerals that are good for you, such as:
- Carotenoids (may reduce cancer risk).
- Lycopene (may improve heart health and reduce cancer risk).
- Magnesium (is important for cell function, and dragon fruit provides 18 per cent of the recommended daily amount).
- Iron (important for healthy blood and energy, and dragon fruit contains 8 per cent of the recommended daily intake).
- Vitamin C (helps your body absorb the iron and boosts immune system health).
Boosts gut health
Having good bacteria in your gut may help you digest food and even lower your risk of getting colon cancer. Ilic says that some studies seemed to show that dragon fruit helped good bacteria grow in the gut. “It might be good for the gut microbiome, which is made up of the good bacteria in our intestines.”
How to cut dragon fruit and eat it
If you can’t find dragon fruit at your local grocery store, you might have better luck at a specialty food store or Asian market.
Ilic says that to choose one, you should go with your gut. “Do what you know about fruit,” she says. “When you touch it with your finger, it should feel a little soft. If it’s too hard, you can still take it home and let it ripen on your counter.”
When you’re ready to eat it, peel it and cut it into pieces. Like an avocado, you eat the inside and throw away the outside. You could also cut it in half and use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the flesh.
Dragon fruit is best eaten raw, but like other fruits, it can also be cooked on a grill. You can eat it by itself or add it to:
- Cod, tuna, and mahimahi are the best fish to eat.
Ilic says, “Once you cut it up, wrap it up tight and put it in the fridge.” “Throw away your dragon fruit when it gets soft and brown.”