Friday, January 23, 2009

The Goodness of Dragon Fruit (火龍果/龍珠果)

Since coming back for retirement from Indonesia, I used to follow my wife to “Pasar Malam” in Taman Bukit Baru, not far from Taman Indah where we stay, on Thursday evenings. Both the two “taman” are in Bukit Siput, Segamat, Johor.

My wife goes there mainly for buying vegetables, whereas I just look around while walking and stopping from one stall to another. Then on one evening I found these Dragon Fruit in one fruit stall and I was told that the fruit was grown organically. The selling price is at RM6.00 per kilo.

The Dragon Fruit appears bright pink in colour and has an ovoid shape, but I prefer to choose the fairly round shape, and with very prominent ‘scales’ around it.

Accordingly, dragon fruit is of cactus family, a beautiful fruit grown in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, and Israel.

There are 3 different varieties of dragon fruit:

1. Hylocereus undatus – pink skin and white flesh

2. Hylocereus polyrhizus – pink skin and red flesh

3. Selenicereus megalanthus – yellow skin and white flesh

Dragon fruit tastes sweet but not thick, with light fragrance and crunchy, and with a flavor that's like a cross between kiwi and pear. Thus, it is also known as the ‘strawberry pear’, ‘pitaya’ or ‘pitahaya’. In Chinese, dragon fruit is called huǒ lóng guǒ 火龍果 "fire dragon fruit" and lóng zhū guǒ 龍珠果"dragon pearl fruit".

The dragon fruit I bought is of pink skin and red flash which I prefer and is popular in Malaysia. We don’t eat the skin of dragon fruit, just the flash is edible. Using a sharp knife, I cut the fruit straight down the middle into 2 halves. Inside the flesh there are tiny black edible seeds, just like the kiwi fruit. Then I use a spoon to scoope out the flesh. The taste is just wonderful, especially we have kept the dragon fruit overnight in air refrigerator.

Other recommended ways of eating dragon fruit are within ice cream, or turn it into a drink by putting the flesh through a juicer. It is a good material of beverage, may be processed to be all kind of drinks or it can be fermented into a wine.

Dragon fruit is a great healthy fruit to eat, and its nutritional benefits are numerous. It is low in calories, rich in fibre and having high nutrients and minerals, including Vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, and also rich in phytoalbumins which have antioxidant properties. It has been reported that antioxidants prevent the formation of cancer-causing free radicals. Dragon Fruit can be used as cosmetic and health material, with functions of improving eyesight and preventing hypertension.

Other benefits:

1. The dragon fruit helps the digestive process.

2. The dragon fruit helps prevent colon cancer and diabetes.

3. The dragon fruit helps to neutralize toxic substances such as heavy metal, reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.

4. Consumed regularly the dragon fruit can help against asthma and cough.

5. In Taiwan, diabetics use the fruit as a food substitute for rice and as a fiber rich part of the diet.

6. Dragon fruit absorbs CO2 at night and releases oxygen to purify the air.

I am sure you are just like me, once you have tasted it you will fall in love with eating Dragon Fruit everyday!


shoeluva said...

yea, one of my favourites as well...It is now available in the local supermarkets in the UK. said...

Advice from a xifu planter is most welcome. I too enjoy eating dragon fruits but didn't know about the nutritional value until I read your article. Tq, my friend. When you taste the sweet ones, they are wonderful, but the non sweet ones are really hard to swallow. The fruits are quite expensive too. They cost a bomb.