The bright pink fruit with fleshy insides looks as pretty as a blossom. Belonging to the cactus family, its scaly outer skin may be the reason why the exotic fruit is called the dragon fruit. The refreshing summer fruit came all the way from Malaysia, and found a special place in our fruit stalls quite some time ago.
The extremely nourishing soil of Kerala is suited for its growth and gives excellent produce. The cost of the dragon fruit, however, may vary according to the place from where they are purchased. A kilo of dragon fruit would cost Rs 200 at the wayside fruit stall, while it may go up to Rs 650/kg at a swanky mall.
The white coloured flesh with specks of black seeds can be scooped out and eaten fresh or added to a salad, nutritious smoothie, or a milk shake. Health and fitness experts vouch for the great nutritious value of the dragon fruit and advice to include it in the diet to maintain a fit and fabulous body.
Here are some of the health benefits of dragon fruit:
Dragon fruit, which has less calories and lots of fibre content, can be consumed by diabetic patients.
A store house of vitamin C and iron, it is an excellent remedy for anaemia.
The dragon fruit is rich in magnesium which aids growth of muscles.
It effectively regulates blood pressure.
It protects the heart by reducing the cholesterol levels and obesity.
Dragon fruit in rich in anti-oxidants which can prevent blood cancer.
It improves immunity.
Dragon fruit is rich in vitamins and minerals which effectively prevent rheumatism, and helps to rejuvenate the skin making it smooth and supple.
Dragon fruit or pitaya is now widely grown in India, and can be easily cultivated at places with tropical climate. 8-10 fruits can be reaped from an individual plant. A dragon fruits can weigh up to 450 gms each, and are largely cultivated in countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. The fleshy insides of the fruit are mostly used to make tasty milk shakes and had even made a short appearance at the local juice shops here.
Once planted, the dragon fruit plants require very little care. It doesn't need much water or organic manure to yield fruits. As there are small spikes on the fruit, birds don't eat the ripe ones on the plant. It can either be grown by sowing and germinating the seeds or planting the shrub.
Dragon fruits are available in three varieties and hylocereus undatus is the most common type. It has bright red skin and white fleshy inside. Hylocereus costaricensis has its skin and flesh in red colour. Meanwhile, hylocereus megalanthus has yellow skin and white flesh. Tropical climate and soil, which is rich in organic matter, is required to grow dragon fruits on a large scale.
Recipe for a rich and creamy dragon fruit milk shake
1 dragon fruit
2 cups chilled milk
Sugar as required
2 scoops vanilla ice cream
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or a smoothie maker