09-11-2021 by Leni Frau
Dragon Fruit or Pitaya is a tropical fruit belonging to the family of Cactacaceae, such as prickly pear. Although it is native to Central and South America, today it is particularly common in Asia and in tropical countries where there is a climate suitable for its growth, such as Kenya. The fruit strikes immediately for its aspect: it has a fuchsia colored skin, very thick and provided with big scales with green tips. The pulp has a creamy consistency and is characterized by a myriad of tiny black seeds, just like kiwi fruit, and the taste is very pleasant, sweet and refreshing. There are four varieties of this fruit: three are pink with a different colored pulp inside which can be white, purple or red. The fourth one is a smaller and sweeter hybrid variety with yellow skin and white pulp but the latter is more popular in the Philippines.
Even in Kenya, where there is a growing interest for healthy eating, its demand is increasing but production is still rather limited, so much that it is retailed between Ksh1,000 and Ksh2,000 per kilo.
Its weight can vary from about 200 to 600 grams and it can be found in the fruit and vegetable departments of stores and supermarkets even on the coast.
This particular-looking fruit is a concentrate of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
It is a fruit with strong antioxidant and anti-aging capabilities. In fact, in addition to vitamin C, it is very rich in betalains, natural pigments that give color to flowers and fruits, which have a remarkable antioxidant power and a high capacity to remove free radicals.
Dragon fruit is also good for the liver thanks to phytoalbumins which help in the purification and detoxification of blood and liver because they increase the excretion of toxins and heavy metals from the body; moreover, it is rich in mineral salts, in particular calcium and sodium and, to a lesser extent, in selenium, sincum and sagnesium.
Although it is a very sugary fruit, it can also be eaten by people suffering from diabetes, of course without exaggerating quantities and avoiding eating it alone, maybe combining it to some yogurt or dried fruit, or to make excellent and tasty juices and smoothies.
Even the other parts of the plant can be used, for example roots and flowers make wonderful herbal teas, whereas the stem is used to make bath soap.
Dragon fruit season in Kenya runs from November to May, with January, February and March being the peak months.
All we have to do is wait a few months to taste it.
There' no use in denying it, the fruits of Kenya are one of the great pleasures of this land.
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