When looking at a menu in a juicery, or an acai bowl café, you’ll typically see pitaya and/or dragon fruit somewhere on there. Those aesthetically pleasing pictures you see on Instagram of bright magenta-colored goodness is what we're talkin' about! 

What Is It?

Indigenous to Central and South America, pitaya is now widely grown all over the world, but specifically in Malaysia and Vietnam, due to its popularity with Asian consumers. In fact, pitaya is the fruit that grows on a cactus species that is indigenous to the Americas. While pitaya grows and thrives in arid climates, its stem provides the fruit with its moisture which is partly what makes it so uniquely delicious.

If you've been wondering whether or not dragon fruit and pitaya are one and the same, I'll fill you in. Dragon fruit is the new name for pitaya, and is the more common and widely used name for the fruit!

With the same texture as kiwi, dragon fruit has tiny black seeds, and a similar, mildly sweet taste as well; the seeds themselves are rich in healthy fats and provide a crunchy texture to the juicy superfood.

In terms of appearance, you’re most likely to come across a pitaya fruit with green scales, a pink peel, and a white inside covered in black seeds. Alternatively, you might find pitayas with a magenta colored inside covered by a yellow peel. 

What are the Health Benefits?

Digestive Health:

Pitaya is deemed a superfood for its incredible health benefits. First and foremost, consuming adequate amounts of pitaya ensures improvement to your digestive health thanks to its abundant amounts of fiber, keeping your digestive system clear and clean.

While the inside of the fruit may be the most appealing part for its sweetness and juiciness, the bulk of the fiber in the fruit actually lies in the skin and the seeds -- why not eat the whole thing? It’ll provide you with the fiber you need to keep your digestive system working smoothly.

Anti-Aging Properties:

Superfoods are, of course, loaded with antioxidants, which keep your skin looking glowy and young. Skip the face cream and serums, and start eating foods like pitaya that will have the same effect! The next time you go into an acai bowl café, try the pitaya bowl, as it definitely wins the superfood game for the amount of antioxidants it contains.

You can even make a face mask out of this fruit if you don’t particularly like the flavor, and it will tighten and brighten your skin to your heart’s desire.

Hair Health:

Who knew pitaya could drastically improve the look and feel of your hair? Well, it sure can! The nutritional composition of the fruit allows your hair follicles to stay open, thus keeping your hair healthy and soft.

There are alternative ways to use pitaya if you don’t want to eat it everyday, such as making an at-home hair mask that can be massaged into the scalp to promote hair growth and health.

Supports Weight-Loss:

If you’re looking for the perfect low-calorie snack to hold you through the day whether you’re in school, at work, or you play a sport, try packing chopped Pitaya in your bag next time.

An average sized pitaya is approximately 60 calories but since it is fiber-packed and extremely filling, you won’t be reaching into your bag for another snack for a couple of hours! Pitaya supports weight loss with its low calorie, high-fiber content and can be a great alternative to your typical snack routine.

vegetable, salad
Jen Reynolds

Well, now you are in the know with all of the deets on pitaya, (also known as dragon fruit). With all of its health benefits, you are bound to feel energized after eating this deliciously sweet superfood. It is easy to prep and can be added to just about anything whether that be a salad, smoothie, cocktail or dessert!

The list goes on… but, the next time you are at the farmer’s market or the grocery store, be on the hunt for this exotic looking fruit and find out what the hype is all about. The Pitaya vs. Dragon Fruit debate has been solved: they are one in the same!