The pitaya or pitahaya (the Taino scaly fruit), also known as the dragon fruit, is the fruit of various species of cactus hemiepiphytes, particularly those of the species Hylocereus undatus (formerly H. triangularis).
Contrary to what its name indicates (dragon fruit), the pitaya is not from China but from an area extending from Mexico to Central America! Fruit however would not have been imported in Martinique but she would be even before the arrival of the first Indian.
Indeed, the species Hylocereus undatus is a native of the Lesser Antilles. The cactus with Virginia creeper gaits has subsequently been imported to Vietnam by French settlers in the early 19th century. Initially, the fruits there were reserved for the royal family and the local bourgeoisie. They then became the first export product of Vietnam and competed in price with the Asian star fruit, durian.
The pitaya measures ten centimeters and weighs about 350 grams. Its flesh is edible and resembles in texture and the presence of small black seeds than the kiwi, however, with a much sweeter taste. There are three kinds of fruit from as many distinct species, all edible, low calorie and wearing a thick skin with small leaves:
- Hylocereus undatus, pink skin and white pulp (variety to be found in Martinique)
- Hylocereus polyrhizus, red flesh and pink skin
- Selenicereus megalanthus, white flesh and yellow skin.
The pitaya is a fruit very few calories. 100 grams of fruit contain only fifty calories and pitaya is rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and betacyanin (mainly red-fleshed variety). The red dragon fruit (Hylocereus sp.), has a low vitamin (116 to 171 mg per gram of fresh pulp). However, the pulp is rich in antioxidants as betacyanin (0.32 to 0.41 mg) and phenolic compounds: its ORAC index is 8.8 to 11.3 (antioxidant activity per gram expressed in micromoles Trolox equivalents).
It is also a source of Omega-3. It also helps reduce uric acid levels in the blood and and promotes the prevention of gout. Providing vitamins, minerals and fiber, dragon fruit is a great reserves of antioxidants: a concentrate of well-being!
The pitaya can reduce the risk of high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease.
To get the most of its benefits, it is recommended to consume it outside of meals.
The seeds are the size of sesame seeds and are scattered throughout the pulp. They are absorbed with the fruit. It can also be made into juice or wine. It also appreciates in smoothie in the company of passion fruit and mango.
The big flower of pitaya is also edible and can make tea.