Everything you need to know about dragon fruit
Dragon fruit is a food that grows on a climbing cactus called hylocereus. On the outer side, the fruit has the appearance of a hot pink bulb with spike like green leaves. Dragon fruit is juicy with a sweet taste that somewhat describe as a cross between a kiwi, a pearl and a watermelon. It refers to the fruit of genus Selenicereus in the family Cactaceae.
Dragon fruit is mostly grown in tropical and sub tropical regions of the world. It thrives warm and humid climates and has flowers that bloom just for one day.
Health benefits of Dragon fruit:
- It is rich in antioxidants like flavonoids, betacyanin that protect your cells from damage by free radicals molecules that can lead to diseases like cancer and premature aging.
- Dragon fruit is high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, needed for good immune system.
- Dragon fruit contains prebiotics, that improve the balance of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your intestines, kill disease causing virus and bacteria and also help to digest food.
- Dragon fruit reduces blood sugar level in patients with prediabetes.
- Dragon fruit have high levels of HDL (High density lipoprotein) or good cholesterol, this helps to reduce chance of strokes and heart attacks.
Health risks of Dragon fruit:
- It is safe to eat dragon fruit although it is supposed to cause allergic reactions.
- If you eat enough red dragon fruit, it might turn your pee pink or red. Excess consumption of Dragon fruit can cause intake of too many antioxidants, which could lead to lung cancer. Excessive amount of fruit can lead to increase of potassium in the system that can cause hypotension.
How to grow dragon fruit from seed:
- Grab an organic dragon fruit from the market and scoop out the seeds.
- Wash the seeds and dry overnight before planting them in a tray with moist soil. The seeds should germinate within 2 weeks. Water the seedlings sparingly and check that the soil has completely dried out before watering again.
How to grow dragon fruit from cuttings :
Snip off a 30 cm section of Dragon fruit tree and leave it to dry for 5-6 days or until the cut end turns white. Once it has dried, place the cut side into sandy cacti soil and water monthly.
Care for Dragon fruit plants:
- Pest management
- Dragon spots
Present market price of Dragon fruit in Nepal is Rs 800 to 1000 per kg which is 3-4 times price than horticultural crop which can be more economical to a farmer.