Pitahaya: The Dragon Fruit

While traveling in South America, people sometimes ask me what I do for a living. Unlike some of the reactions I sometimes get in North America, when I tell people from South America that I’m a naturopathic medical student, I usually get warm, excited responses.

The reasons for this is that, in South America, natural medicine is deeply ingrained in the culture. Not only do South American countries have a large array of amazing medicinal plants and exotic fruits to try, the people are wonderful sources of information for the medicinal value of fruits and which fruit serves for which health complaint.

When traveling in Colombia, I was recommended pitahaya, or dragon fruit, as it’s commonly called, for digestive complaints (namely, constipation).  I quickly became a huge fan of the mild, softly sweet taste and was excited to find it in North America.  J’s grandfather would eat it every night after dinner and excitedly called it el postre de los principes, the dessert of princes.

Pitahaya has a yellow (or sometimes red), thick outer skin with a soft white inner fruit that is peppered with small black seeds.  It is typically eaten like a kiwi, by slicing it in half width-wise and spooning out the white insides.

Pitahaya is high in fibre, which helps aid digestion and decrease constipation, vitamin C and other antioxidants and B vitamins.  It is also relatively low in sugar for a fruit and has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in those suffering from type II diabetes. In South America it is commonly consumed when one is suffering from constipation. Some sources also claim that it´s beneficial for those suffering from cough and asthma and can even reduce blood pressure.

So ignore this slow onset of spring and search your grocery store for this delicious tropical fruit!

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