Dragon fruit is called pitahaya or pitaya in its native habitat in South and Central America. It is a member of the cactaceae family and has white, magenta or red flesh that contains lycopene, which is an antioxidant. The three types of dragon fruit include selenicerius megalanthus, which has white flesh and yellow skin; hylocereus polyrhizus, which has red flesh and red skin, and hylocereus undatus, which has white flesh and red skin.
Lycopene reportedly combats heart disease and cancer and lowers blood pressure. Dragon fruit is in various bottled fruit drinks, such as Snapple.
Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C, as well as carbohydrate, folates, carotenes and fibre, which are particularly good for pregnant women. Folates are necessary for blood cells to form. If a pregnant woman is deficient in folates, she may have a baby with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida.
The carbohydrates in dragon fruit provide energy, which is essential for everyone but particularly helpful to a pregnant woman who is struggling with fatigue. Dragon fruit also contains calcium, which every pregnant woman needs for herself and her baby; protein, iron and potassium, which all help the body to increase its resistance to disease.
Tropical fruits, such as dragon fruit, contain phytochemicals. These are substances that create the bright colours in fruit but which also serve an antioxidants and fight disease, notes Angel Fire. A phytochemical is a protective compound occurring in plants. Sometimes the word "phytonutrient" is used instead of phytochemical. These compounds contain phytosterols, carotenoids, terpenes and limonoids.
Including tropical fruits in your diet makes it easy to get the five to 10 servings of fruits that you should ideally have each day. Dumex recommends a dragon fruit milkshake, which is considered nutritious and refreshing while providing a valuable source of fibre and vitamins, for expectant mothers as well as for children. To make one, remove the skin from the dragon fruit and cut the flesh into cubes. Add 1 cup of lowfat milk and ice cubes and blend for a couple of minutes in the blender.
Pregnant women may need more vitamin B1, which dragon fruit can supply. Consult with your obstetrician.
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