The pitaya, or pitaya, is an exotic fruit with a sweet and mild flavor that belongs to the cactus family. cactaceae. Due to the scaly appearance of its shell, it has earned the nickname of dragon fruit, as it is also known. Rich in minerals and vitamins from the B and C complex, its consumption favors weight loss and brings benefits to the body, such as fighting free radicals that cause premature aging of cells.
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In addition to being good for health, it draws the attention of consumers for its contrasting colors, which makes dragon fruit a potential for agriculture. The red pitaya (Hylocereus costaricensis) has peel and pulp in a purplish pink hue. Already, both the yellow pitaya (Selenicereus megalanthus) and white (Hylocereus undatus), are clear inside and what changes is the color of the shell. While the first, as the name implies, has yellow skin, the second is pink.
The plant grows best in medium temperature places, such as soils with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5 and not compacted. It is important that they are rich in organic matter, well drained and sandy in texture.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action
Vitamin C present in dragon fruit strengthens the immune system and has antioxidant action. In addition, the fruit also has a large amount of phenolic compounds and substances such as betalain, betaxanthin and betacyanin, which, in addition to intensifying the functions that fight oxidative stress, attribute anti-inflammatory characteristics to the food.
Thus, according to the coordinator of the Nutrition service at Hospital São Vicente de Paulo, Fernanda Carvalhal, pitaya works to combat premature aging of cells caused by free radicals, preventing chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and certain types of cancer.
Helps regulate blood sugar
Being rich in fiber, the fruit helps in the digestion process and helps regulate excess blood sugar. “By reducing the blood glucose spike that some foods, such as sweets and white flour, can cause, pitaya favors the stabilization of blood glucose”, he explains.
Fernanda Carvalhal also highlights that, according to some studies, the healing action in diabetic patients has already been identified for the treatment of wounds, with the use of the fruit extract.
improves the intestine
Pitaya can also work as a prebiotic. This is because its high amount of fiber is not transformed by the body, but fermented by the intestine. “The oligosaccharides present in the fruit are considered prebiotics that contribute to the increase of the bacterial flora considered good and help in intestinal health”, he highlights.
Therefore, it is possible to say that the consumption of the fruit helps with bowel movements, regulates the development of harmful bacteria and facilitates the passage of food through the digestive tract.
In addition, the nutritionist adds that the extract from the pulp of the fruit has already been proven to reduce inflammation of the intestinal mucosa.
favors weight loss
Pitaya is low in calories and low in carbohydrates, so it constantly appears in diets for those who want to lose weight. In addition, the fruit favors weight loss due to the high presence of fibers, which increase satiety and, consequently, reduce food intake.
“In the intestine, the presence of fibers can also reduce the absorption of fats and contribute to weight loss. Another important factor is the presence of tyramine, which activates glucagon, a hormone that increases blood glucose levels when the body needs energy”, explains the specialist.
Helps to lower cholesterol
Regular consumption of the fruit, in addition to physical activities and a healthy diet, can also help to lower cholesterol. “Pitaya seeds help to reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels, as they contain linoleic acid, a type of healthy fat that has a laxative action and inhibits the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine”, he explains.
Prevents anemia and strengthens bones
Iron, present in pitaya, helps transport oxygen throughout the body and thus prevents anemia. The presence of vitamin C also plays a role in helping with the absorption of this mineral.
Among the components of the fruit are also calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, minerals that directly collaborate with the strengthening of bones and teeth. In this way, the fruit can be a strong ally for those who have diseases such as osteoporosis.
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