Dragon fruit healthy and exotic

Dragon fruit is appearing at vendors at the county’s Sunshine Markets and other farmers markets around the island.

“It usually is available between August through most of November,” said Glenna Ueunten, a farmer from Lawa‘i, vending at the Kukui Grove Monday Market. “Actually, it appears after flowering and we’re between cycles so it should be plentiful for awhile.”

Ueunten said she is one of several vendors who offer the increasingly popular fruit at the farmers markets, and if shoppers can’t locate a market, there may be some at Sueoka’s in Koloa.

The exotic fruit is called pitaya fruit, pitahaya fruit, or dragon fruit, according to the Dragon Fruit.biz website.

It is among the most nutritious and wonderful exotic fruits, a favorite to many, particularly people of Asian origin, the website states.

Dragon fruit features a mouth-watering light sweet taste after getting through its leathery outer skin.

The plant is actually a type of cactus, states the About Thai Food website. Its flower resembles a cereus.

Dragon fruit is low in calories and offers numerous nutrients, including Vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium, and fiber and antioxidants in a sweet and somewhat crunchy package, the food website states.

The dragon fruit website states pitahaya fruits are highly concentrated with Vitamin C, minerals and boasts of high fiber content. Equally available in affluent is phytoalbumins, these nutrients are vital and known around the world for the antioxidants they possess, usually helping in the prevention of the formation of free radicals which cause cancer.

Dragon fruit can be eaten as dessert or raw, or the juice can be used in cocktails.

In Taiwan, the pitaya fruit is used by diabetics to substitute food for rice while enhancing the fiber content of the diet.

It has a flavor which is a cross between kiwi and pear, although local people will find it resembles something between a lychee and kiwi fruit.

Ways of eating the dragon fruit are as many as the medicinal values of the fruit. The fruit can be eaten fresh by peeling off the skin and spooning it in the way people eat papaya, the dragon fruit website states.

The pitaya fruit can be sliced, blended in a smoothie and eaten with lime or lemon and even added to a fresh fruit salad.

A recipe for Tropical Thai Fruit Salad can be found on www.thaifood.about.com.

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