Though many people likely didn’t know what it was just a few years ago, dragon fruit has become quite mainstream in the U.S. in recent years. You’ve likely seen it in Instagram photos, in your favorite YouTuber’s smoothie recipes, and even in the produce aisles at your local grocery store.
But, interesting as they look, many people still aren’t quite sure what dragon fruit is. This article will clear all of that up for you.
What is dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit (also known as pitaya) is a tropical fruit about the size of a small fist. It’s commonly bright pink on the outside, with a white inner flesh dotted with small black seeds.
However, just as you can buy red, green, or yellow apples, you can find different varieties of dragon fruit, too. Some strains of dragon fruit are yellow on the outside, while others are red on the outside and all the way through, minus the small black seeds (which are completely edible, by the way).
Its unique look is what attracts most people to dragon fruit for the first time, as it tends to stand out at your standard Western grocery store.
Dragon fruit nutrition facts
According to a database from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the nutritional value of dragon fruit is approximately as follows.
1 Cup (140 g) of dragon fruit contains:
- 80 calories
- 1.5 g of fat
- < 1 g of protein
- 17 g of carbs
- 11 g of sugar
- 3 g of fiber
Dragon fruit also contains small amounts of:
- Vitamin C
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What is dragon fruit good for?
Because it is a low-calorie and nutrient-rich food, dragon fruit, like many fruits, can be a positive addition to a healthy diet.
Dragon fruit is a good source of antioxidants, which may help protect you from some cancers, as well as improve your brain health, and decrease your risk for heart disease.
It can also promote good gut health because of the prebiotic fiber it contains.
The Vitamin C in dragon fruit can also help promote a healthy immune system, as well as support healthy looking skin.
Like any kind of food, dragon fruit does have the potential to cause allergic reactions in some people. So, if you’ve never eaten it before, try only introducing a small amount of dragon fruit into your diet to start.
What does dragon fruit taste like?
Some people find dragon fruit to have a slightly sweet taste, while others say it tastes like almost nothing at all. It’s not especially sour, sweet, or juicy. In fact, it’s often described as being “bland.”
While this may make dragon fruit underwhelming for some people, this mild taste can also make it ideal for adding to smoothies and other dishes because it won’t impact or overshadow other flavors.
The takeaway here, it seems, is that the main appeal of dragon fruit comes mostly from how it looks, not so much its taste.
Why is dragon fruit expensive?
Because dragon fruit is only grown in tropical climates, it is more expensive than other produce that can be grown in a wider variety of climates. Dragon fruit generally has to be imported from places like South America, Mexico, and Central America.
Importing any food will make it cost more, and dragon fruit is no exception. Also, because it has become a bit of a culinary trend recently, the demand for dragon fruit is now greater than the supply available, which also leads to higher prices.
How much does dragon fruit cost exactly? It varies based on what part of the world or, in my case, the U.S. you live in.
Dragon fruit can cost as much as $10 for a single fruit. And if you want to order your dragon fruit online, it’s even worse: dragon fruit delivered from Amazon Prime, for example, can cost nearly $40 for just 3 pieces of fruit.
How to eat dragon fruit
If you want to try this aesthetically pleasing, albeit expensive, fruit for yourself, you’ll need to know one final but very important thing: how to eat it!
One of the most common ways to eat dragon fruit is to follow these steps:
- Cut the dragon fruit in half along its longer side, if it has one. You do not need to peel the skin off of it.
- Once the white fruit and its black seeds are exposed, use a spoon to eat the fruit straight from the rind.
Alternatively, another very simple way to eat dragon fruit or prepare it for adding to other dishes is:
- Peel the skin off of the fruit.
- Cut the inner fruit (the white part with the black seeds) into small chunks for adding to smoothies, fruit bowls, etc.
Is dragon fruit worth it?
Honestly, in my personal opinion, no.
Because it’s so expensive, but also has little-to-no impressionable taste, I can’t imagine buying dragon fruit for anything more than adding some extra color to an Instagram photo.
While dragon fruit is healthy, you can get many of the same health benefits from other, less expensive fruits and vegetables. For example, blueberries and oranges have a lot of antioxidants and vitamin C, respectively.
While dragon fruit looks neat, let’s just say I won’t be making it a staple of my weekly shopping list anytime soon.
What do you think? Would you pay $10 for a single piece of fruit? Have you found dragon fruit anywhere cheaper? Tell me in the comments!