Friday, September 12, 2008

Red Pitaya, A Fruit of the Rainforest

Red Pitaya, also called Dragonfruit, is a type of cactus that grows, vine-like, high in the trees of the rainforest. It is chock full of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

According to Wikipedia, (and I quote since its not that much and will save you going to a link)

"Sweet pitayas come in three types, all with leathery, slightly leafy skin:

* Hylocereus undatus (Red Pitaya) has red-skinned fruit with white flesh. This is the most commonly-seen "dragonfruit".
* Hylocereus costaricensis (Costa Rica Pitaya, sometimes called H. polyrhizus) has red-skinned fruit with red flesh
* Hylocereus megalanthus (Yellow Pitaya) has yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.

Red Pitaya, ready to eat ...

The fruit can weigh from 150-600 grams and the flesh, which is eaten raw, is mildly sweet and low in calories. Eating the fruit is sometimes likened to that of the kiwifruit due to a prevalence of sesame seed-sized black crunchy seeds found in the flesh of both fruits which make for a similar texture upon consumption. The skin is not eaten. The fruit may be converted into juice or wine; the flowers can be eaten or steeped as tea. Although the tiny pitaya seeds are eaten with the flesh, the seeds are indigestible. It is generally recommended that dragon fruit be eaten chilled, for improved flavor. Ingestion of significant amounts of red dragonfruit (particularly Costa Rica Pitaya) may result in a reddish discoloration of the urine and faeces.[4]

* Red-skinned pitayas[5] are rich in vitamins[6], especially Vitamin C.
* Pitayas are rich in fiber and minerals, notably phosphorus and calcium. Red pitayas are richer in the former, yellow ones in the latter[5]. In Taiwan, diabetics use the fruit as a food substitute for rice and as a source of dietary fibre.
* Pitayas are also rich in phytoalbumins which are highly valued for their antioxidant properties.
* Costa Rican Pitayas are rich in antioxidants[7] which prevent the formation of cancer-causing free radicals."


Interesting. In Mexico there is a fruit called pitaya, but it grows in a cactus and only in May. It is not very popular because only grows in the sierra Mixteca. There are so many different fruits that we probably never eat them all :-p

Thanks for your comment about chico. I had never heard of them before. And zapote is something different in Mexico than in Guatemala. If I get my hands on one sometime I will post it on my blog.


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