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Dragon fruit: A review of health benefits and nutrients and its sustainable development under climate changes in Vietnam

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Dragon fruit or pitaya is an exotic tropical plant that brings multiple benefits to human health thanks to its high nutritional value and bioactive compounds, including powerful natural antioxidants. Extracts from stems, flowers, peels, pulps of dragon fruit own a range of beneficial biological activities against pathogenic microbes including bacteria, fungi and viruses, and diseases like diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidaemia, and cancer. Moreover, dragon fruit extracts have cardiovascular- and hepato-protective properties, as well as prebiotic potential. Vietnam is a tropical country with favourable climate conditions for the development of pitaya plantations, which have great adaptability and tolerance to a wide range of environmental conditions (e.g. salinity adaptation, favour light intensity, drought resistance, etc.). The dragon fruit, thanks to its nutritional properties, biological activities, and commercial value has become a cost-effective good for the Vietnamese economy, particularly in the poorest areas of the Mekong delta region, and a driving force in the sustainable development of Vietnam under the challenges posed by the global climate change such as saline intrusion and drought.
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Czech Journal of Food Sciences, 39, 2021 (2): 71–94 Review
https://doi.org/10.17221/139/2020-CJFS
Dragon fruit: Areview ofhealth benefits and nutrients
and its sustainable development under climate changes
inVietnam
T-T-H L1, T-L L1*, N H1, P Q-A2
1School ofAgriculture and Aquaculture, Tra Vinh University, Tra Vinh, Vietnam
2Unit of Microbiology, Department of Genetics, Physiology and Microbiology,
Biology Faculty, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
*Corresponding author: letruclinh@tvu.edu.vn
Citation: Luu T.T.H., Le T.L., Huynh N., Quintela-Alonso P. (2021): Dragon fruit: Areview of health benefits and nutrients
and its sustainable development under climate changes inVietnam. Czech J. Food Sci., 39: 71–94.
Abstract: Dragon fruit orpitaya isan exotic tropical plant that brings multiple benefits tohuman health thanks toits
high nutritional value and bioactive compounds, including powerful natural antioxidants. Extracts from stems, flowers,
peels, pulps ofdragon fruit own arange ofbeneficial biological activities against pathogenic microbes including bacte-
ria, fungi and viruses, and diseases like diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidaemia, and cancer. Moreover, dragon fruit extracts
have cardiovascular and hepatoprotective properties, aswell asprebiotic potential. Vietnam isatropical country with
favourable climate conditions for thedevelopment ofpitaya plantations, which have great adaptability and tolerance
toawide range ofenvironmental conditions (e.g.salinity adaptation, favour light intensity, drought resistance, etc.).
edragon fruit, thanks toits nutritional properties, biological activities, and commercial value has become acost-
effective product for theVietnamese economy, particularly inthepoorest areas oftheMekong Delta region, and adriv-
ing force inthesustainable development ofVietnam under thechallenges posed by the global climate change such
assaline intrusion and drought.
Keywords: pitaya; tropical fruit; nutrition; medicinal value; Mekong Delta; antioxidant
Dragon fruit orpitaya isthefruit ofseveral different
tropical climbing plants ofthegenus Hylocereus, fami-
ly Cactaceae. Although thepitaya isnative tothetrop-
ical areas of North, Central and South America, it
is now cultivated worldwide due to its commercial
interest, not demanding cultivation requirements,
i.e. high drought tolerance, easy adaptation to light
intensity and high temperature, awide range oftoler-
ance todifferent soil salinities, and benefits tohuman
health (Nobel and La Barrera 2004; Nie et al. 2015;
Crane et al. 2017; Mercado-Silva 2018). It is com-
mercially cultivated inover 20tropical and subtropi-
cal countries such asBahamas, Bermuda, Indonesia,
Colombia, Israel, the Philippines, Myanmar, Malay-
sia, Mexico, Nicaragua, northern Australia, Okinawa
(Japan), Sri Lanka, southern China, southern Florida,
Taiwan, ailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and theWest
Indies (Mercado-Silva 2018).
Pitaya isan exotic fruit due toits shape and very at-
tractive colours offlesh and skin e.g., red flesh with pink
skin (Hylocereus polyrhizus; Britton and Rose 1920),
white flesh with pink skin (Hylocereus undatus; Brit-
ton 1918) orred-purple flesh with red skin (Hylocere-
us costaricensis; Britton and Rose 1909) or yellow skin
and white flesh [Selenicereus megalanthus (K. Schum.
ex Vaupel) Moran 1953 (synonym Hylocereus megalan-
thus)] (Ortiz-Hernández and Carrillo-Salazar 2012; Mu-
nizetal. 2019). However, theresults ofgenetic analyses
showed that S.megalanthus istetraploid, whereas spe-
cies of Hylocereus are diploid. e species is thereby
considered anatural hybrid between Hylocereus and
Selenicereus, and maybe it belongs toadistinct genus
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(Tel-Zur etal. 2004). e genus Hylocereus belongs
tothefamily Cactaceae and includes numerous dis-
tinct species (Morton 1987), but only two of them,
H.polyrhizus and H.undatus, are commonly grown
in Vietnam. eexact origin of dragon fruit is un-
known, but the plant is probably native to Mexico,
Central America, and northern South America (Brit-
ton and Rose 1920; Morton 1987; Blancke 2016).
Dragon fruit is along day and perennial plant; one
planting can harvest fruit in around 20years (Ji-
angetal. 2012; Craneetal. 2017). etree also pro-
duces fruits throughout theyear thanks tooff-season
production technology like artificially lengthening
daytime through electric lighting (Jiang et al. 2012;
Jiangetal. 2016).
Dragon fruit was introduced toVietnam bytheFrench
over ahundred years ago (Mizrahietal. 1997). Itisknown
asanh Long (Green Dragon) because themost com-
mon types offruits are oval shaped with bright, red skin
with green foliaceous bracts/scales resemblingtheskin
ofadragon (Figure1). is fruit has become themost
profitable crop for Vietnamese farmers. Vietnam has
thelargest area ofpitaya cultivation inAsia and it isgrown
in63/65 cities/provinces ofthecountry (Hoatetal. 2018;
Hien 2019). Vietnam isthemain exporter ofdragon fruit
worldwide due tohigh global demand (Ratnala ulaja
and Abd Rahman 2017).
Ahigh proportion ofthepopulation and economic as-
sets of Vietnam are located in coastal lowlands, deltas
and rural areas, which explains why Vietnam has been
ranked among thefive countries likely tobe most affect-
ed by climate change (World Bank Group 2020). Par-
ticularly, climate changes impact agricultural produc-
tion due totheincrease of saltwater intrusion and lack
ofirrigation water inthedry season. Moreover, droughts
have become arecurrent problem intheMekong River
Delta, already threatened by the increased saline in-
trusion inthedry season, seriously affecting the crops
(USForest Service 2011).
Interestingly, pitaya has been successfully cultivated
in mangrove areas of Vietnam (Figure2), due to its
high adaptation capacity to grow under harsh envi-
ronmental conditions, becoming a valuable asset for
thesustainable development ofthecountry and par-
Figure 1. Flowers, stems and fruits ofthepitaya ofthegenus Hylocereus: flower blooms atnight (A); branched stems(B);
Pitaya ofH.undatus (left) and H.polyrhizus (right) (C); theoval shape with bright, red skin and green foliaceous
bracts/scales resembling theskin ofadragon; red pulp and white pulp ofH.polyrhizus and H.undatus (D)
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Czech Journal of Food Sciences, 39, 2021 (2): 71–94 Review
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ticularly for the impoverished areas of the Mekong
River Delta (Hoatetal. 2018).
Dragon fruit isalso considered asamedicinal plant,
used infolk medicine inAsian countries, where tradi-
tional practitioners use herbal medicines toprevent and
tocure diseases (Sofowora etal. 2013). epulp and
the peels have high water content, are rich in fibres
and contain many nutrient elements including ahigh
amount ofvitamins, minerals, and antioxidants (Nurli-
yanaetal. 2010; Perweenetal. 2018). Inrecent years,
thebiological activity ofdragon fruit has been studied
and proven in several studies (Nurliyana et al. 2010;
Rodriguezetal. 2016; Ismailetal. 2017; Suastutietal.
2018; Zainetal. 2019; Juliastutietal. 2020).
is article reviews the current knowledge of the
health benefits and nutrient compositions ofthedrag-
on fruit and summarises its current production and
export sales figures inVietnam inthecontext ofglobal
climate change.
BOTANICAL CLASSIFICATION
Dragon fruit isalong day plant. It belongs tothegenus
Hylocereus and family Cactaceae (Morton 1987). esys-
tematic position of dragon fruit isshown inFigure 3.
eplant isknown by many names, such asdragon
fruit, pitaya, pitahaya , night-blooming cereus, strawberry
pear, Belle oftheNight, Cinderella plant (Perweenetal.
2018). In Vietnam, it is called anh Long (Green
Dragon). From theabove names, one ofthemost widely
used is pitaya, a Haitian word meaning "scaly fruit"
because it has scales or bracts onthe fruit skin (Ortiz-
Hernández and Carrillo-Salazar 2012).
egenus Hylocereus (A. Berger) Britton and Rose
(1909) comprises 18species (Anderson 2001) and
it is characterised by the following typical features:
i) climbing cacti, often epiphytic, with elongated stems
normally 3-angled or3-winged, freely branching, and
branches emitting aerial roots, the areoles bearing
short wool and several short spines, or rarely spine-
less; ii) flowers very large, funnel-form, usually bloom
atnight, limb asbroad aslong; iii) ovary and hypanthi-
um (pericarp) bearing large leafy bracts but nospines,
felt, wool, orhairs; iv) outer perianth-segments simi-
lar to the leafy bract on hypanthium, but longer; in-
ner perianth segments narrow, acute or acuminate,
mostly white, rarely red; v) stamens very many, aslong
as the style, or shorter; vi) fruit spherical to oblong,
usually red and fleshy, spineless but with several broad
leafy bracts, mostly large and edible; and vii) seeds
(A)
(B)
Figure 2. Maps showing the main dragon fruit cultivating areas of Vietnam in black rectangle (A), the star points to
Ha Noi, the capital of Vietnam; the magnified map (B) shows the largest growing areas with the highest production
of pitaya, i.e. southeast and the Mekong River Delta; Ca Mau province, in the south of the country, has mangrove
areas where the dragon fruit has been successfully cultivated
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small, black, elongate or kidney shaped (Britton and
Rose 1920; Anderson 2001). emorphology offlower,
stem, and fruit ofHylocereusspp. isshown inFigure1.
NUTRITIONAL VALUES
Several species are included within the genus Hy-
locereus, but only afew are cultivated because oftheir
commercial and nutritional values, such as Hylocereus
undatus, Hylocereus polyrhizus, and Hylocereus cos-
taricensis (Ortiz-Hernández and Carrillo-Salazar 2012;
Munizetal. 2019). eanalysis ofjuice obtained from
different species and crops of dragon fruit shows that
thenutritional values are highly variable (Ruzainahetal.
2009; Ramli and Rahmat 2014; Jerônimoetal. 2015; Ta-
ble1). us, 100g offresh pulp from dragon fruit con-
tains above 80% moisture, 0.4to 2.2g ofprotein, 8.5to
13.0g ofcarbohydrates and 6.0g oftotal sugar, depend-
ing onthespecies and theorigin. efact that thecon-
centrations ofvitaminC obtained inthestudies ofRamli
and Rahmat (2014) and Jerônimoetal. (2015) were low-
er than one would expect from afruit with such praised
antioxidant properties was attributed by the authors
to different factors: ascorbic acid is susceptible to air
and light and undergoes oxidative degradation with
relative ease during thepreparation ofjuice; theconcen-
tration ofascorbic acid infruit varies according tothe
typeofcultivation, thestage ofmaturity and thecondi-
tions ofcultivation; thecontent ofvitamins and minerals
isaffected bythetransportation and storage ofthefruits,
where keeping the temperature about 8°C is the best
toensure thequality attributes ofthe fruit (Ramli and
Rahmat 2014; Jerônimo et al. 2015). Rahmawati and
Mahajoeno (2019) tested vitamin C content in three
species: H.costaricensis (super red pulp), H.polyrhizus
(red pulp) and H.undatus (white pulp), collected from
four different locations: Pasuruan (East Java), Sukoha-
rjo and Klaten (Central Java), and Bantul districts (Yo-
gyakarta). e concentration of vitamin C oscillated
from 3.3to 6.0mg100g–1, depending on the species
and thelocation; thus, thehighest concentration ofvi-
tamin C content was recorded in Pasuruan super red
pitaya (6.0mg100g–1), while thelowest concentration
was found inBantul white pitaya (3.4mg100g–1). Choo
and Jong (2011) found that concentrations ofascorbic
acid oftwo species H. polyrhizus and H. undatus were
36.65and 31.05mg100g–1 fresh pulp, respectively.
Another study determined thecontent ofascorbic acid
inHylocereus sp., cv. Red Jaina (red skin with red pulp)
and Hylocereus sp., cv. David Bowie (red skin with white
pulp) of55.8and 13.0mg100g–1, respectively (Mahat-
tanataweeetal. 2006). Consequently, thevitaminC level
may vary according to species, crop, origin, maturity
level of fruit, and extracting process (Mahattanataw-
eeetal. 2006; Rahmawati and Mahajoeno 2009; Ramli
and Rahmat 2014).
Another part ofthepitaya, theyoung stem, also con-
tains high nutritional values, including raw protein
(10.0–12.1 g100 g–1), raw fibre (7.8–8.1 g100 g–1),
and several minerals such asP, K, Ca, Mg, Na, Fe, Zn,
inwhich Fe amounts to7.5–28.8mgkg–1 ofdry mass
(Ortiz-Hernández and Carrillo-Salazar 2012). Both
theflesh and particularly theseeds ofthedragon fruit
have anoticeable content offatty acids (Table2). Jerôni-
moetal. (2015) analysed theflesh ofthespecies H.un-
datus and found that themost predominant fatty acids
were linoleic, oleic and palmitic acid, accounting for
50.8%, 21.5% and 12.6% ofthetotal fatty acid content,
respectively (Table2). Similarly, Ariffinetal. (2009) an-
alysed theoil extracted from dragon fruit seeds ofred
and white pitaya and found ahigh content ofessential
fatty acids, namely linoleic (~50%) and linolenic (~1%)
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae (Haeckel 1866)
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta
Superdivision: Spermatophyta (Seed plants) (Willkomm 1854)
Division: Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants) (Cronquistetal. 1966)
Class: Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons) (Cronquistetal. 1966)
Subclass: Caryophyllidae (Takhtajan 1966)
Order: Caryophyllales (Jussieu 1789 ex Berchtold and Presl 1820)
Family: Cactaceae (Cactus family) (Jussieu 1789)
Subfamily: Cereoideae (Schumman 1898 published in Schumann 1899)
Tribe: Hylocereae (Buxbaum 1958)
Genus: Hylocereus (A. Berger) (Britton and Rose 1909) Figure 3. Dragon fruit
systematic position
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acid, and other fatty acids such as cis-vaccenic acid
(~3.0%), palmitic acid (17.5%), and oleic acid (22.7%).
ebenefits ofmono and polyunsaturated fatty acids
to human health are well-documented. For instance,
these acids are known tohelp reducing low-density and
very low-density lipoprotein fractions associated with
increased serum cholesterol (Beynen and Katan 1985;
Jenkinsetal. 2002). Inaddition, linoleic and alpha-lin-
olenic acids are necessary tomaintain cell membranes,
brain function and thetransmission ofnerve impulses
under normal conditions (Glick and Fischeretal. 2013;
Jerônimoetal. 2015).
PHYTOCHEMISTRY AND MEDICINAL
PROPERTIES OF DRAGON FRUIT
Phytochemical compositions. Phytochemicals are
defined as the bioactive, non-nutrient plant com-
pounds (Septembre-Malaterreetal. 2018). ese com-
pounds are secondary plant metabolites, and they are
associated with health benefits (Nyamai et al. 2016).
Inrecent years, there has been increasing interest not
only in the identification of the phytochemical com-
pounds present indragon fruit but also intheexploita-
tion oftheir potential medicinal properties. Betalains,
flavonoids, polyphenols, terpenoids, steroids, sapo-
nins, alkaloids, tannins, and carotenoids are bioactive
compounds which can beextracted from all theparts
of the pitaya (Ramli et al. 2014b; Jerônimo et al.
2015; Moo-Huchinet al. 2017; Kanchana et al. 2018;
Mahdi et al. 2018). Hence, not only the edible parts
of the dragon fruit, i.e. the pulp, but also the waste
parts like thepeels are rich inphytochemicals and thus
have potential uses asherbal medicine or natural co-
lourants (Tables2and3).
Zainetal. (2019) identified 13types ofphenolic com-
pounds from Hylocereus polyrhizus, using microwave-
assisted extraction toget thebioactive compounds from
thepeel, and thefull chromatogram ofthepeel extract
obtained from UHPLC-ESI-QTRAP-MSMS analy
sis.
Table 1. Nutritional values edible portion ofdifferent species ofdragon fruit (Hylocereus spp.)
Component Units (FW)
H.polyrhizus
from Malaysia
(Ramli and Rahmat
2014)
H.polyrhizus
from Australia
(Ramli and Rahmat
2014)
H.polyrhizus
from Malaysia
(Ruzainahetal.
2009)
H.undatus
from Brazil
(Jerônimoetal.
2015)
Moisture g 100g–1 85.05 89.98 82.5–83.00 86.03
Ash g 100g–1 0.54 1.19 nd nd
Carbohydrate g 100g–1 12.97 8.42 nd 10.79
Total sugar g 100g–1 nd nd nd 5.92
Protein g 100g–1 1.45 0.41 0.159–0.229 2.27
Fat g 100g–1 nd nd 0.21–0.61 0.16
Total dietary fibre g 100g–1 2.65 nd nd nd
Crude fibre g 100g–1 nd nd 0.70–0.90 1.15
Energy kcal 100g–1 62.95 35.36 nd 53.68
Iron mg 100g–1 0.30 0.03 nd nd
Magnesium mg 100g–1 26.40 13.70 nd nd
Potassium mg 100g–1 158.29 437.35 nd 3.09
Sodium mg 100g–1 35.63 14.30 nd 0.14
Zinc mg 100g–1 0.40 0.09 nd nd
Calcium mg 100g–1 6.72 1.55 nd nd
Phosphorus mg 100g–1 nd nd nd 0.003
Vitamin A mg 100g–1 0.085 0.89 nd nd
VitaminC mg 100g–1 0.024 0.03 8.00–9.00 0.84
FW – fresh weight; nd – nodata
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Table 2. Profile offatty acids intheflesh ofHylocererus undatus (modified after Jerônimoetal. 2015)
Compositions offatty acids
Red pitaya
(Hylocereus undatus) pulp
(mg 100g–1)
% fatty acids
Palmitic acid (C16:0) 62.740 12.632
Palmitoleic acid (C16:1 ω-7) 1.765 0.355
Heptadecanoic acid (C17:0) 0.373 0.075
Heptadecanoic acid (C17:1 ω-7) 0.580 0.116
Oleic acid (C18:1 C ω-9) 22.066 4.442
Oleic acid (C18:1 T ω-9) 107.040 21.551
Linoleic acid (C18:2 C ω-6) 252.650 50.869
Linoleic acid (C18:2 T ω-6) 0.690 0.138
Alpha-linolenic acid (C18:3 ω-3) 4.569 0.919
α-linolenic acid (C18:3 ω-6) 0.762 0.153
Arachidic acid (C20:0) 4.587 0.923
Eicosatrienoic acid (C20:3 ω-6) 0.615 0.123
Arachidonic acid (C20:4 ω-6) 1.384 0.278
Eicosapentaenoic acid (C20:5 ω-3) 0.304 0.061
Heneicosanoic acid (C21:0) 0.610 0.122
Behenic acid (C22:0) 3.713 0.747
Docosahexaenoic acid (C22:6 ω-3) 0.608 0.122
Tricosanoic acid (C23:0) 0.351 0.070
Lignoceric acid (C24:0) 2.527 0.508
Tetracosenoic acid (C24:1 ω-9) 0.309 0.062
Stearic acid (C18:0) 27.333 5.503
Eicosamonoenoic (C20:1 ω-9) 1.091 0.219
Total saturated fatty acids (%) 102.234 20.580
Total unsaturated fatty acids (%) 394.433 79.408
Total monounsaturated fatty acid 132.851
Total polyunsaturated fatty acids 261.582
MUFA/SFA 1.299
PUSA/SFA 2.558
MUFA – monounsaturated fatty acids; SFA – saturated fatty acids; PUSA – polyunsaturated fatty acids; MUFA/SFA – ratio
ofmonounsaturated and saturated fatty acids; PUSA/SFA – ratio ofpolyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids
ephenolic compounds included: quinic acid, cinnam-
ic acid, quinic acid isomer, 3,4-dihydroxyvinylbenzene,
isorhamnetin 3-O-rutinoside, myricetin rhamnohexo-
side, 3,30-di-O-methyl ellagic acid, isorhamnetin agly-
cone monomer, apigenin, jasmonic acid, oxooctadecano-
ic acid, 2 (3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-7-hydroxy-5-benzene
propanoic acid and protocatechuic hexoside conjugate.
eresults showed therichness inpolyphenols and fla-
vonoid compounds ofthe pitaya and pointed its value
asanatural colour source with interest for thefood and
cosmetic industries (Table3).
Wybraniecetal. (2007) analysed thepulps and peels
ofH.ocamponis, H.undatus, and H.purpusii, aswell
ashybrids ofH.costaricensis×H.polyrhizus and H.un-
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Table 3. Phytochemical compounds ofdragon fruit
Aerial parts Phytochemical compounds Varietie(s) Method Reference
Pulp and Peel Betacyanins, phenolics, flavonoids. H.polyrhizus colour test
followed byUV-Vis
Ramlietal.
(2014b)
Pulp Carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, alkaloids, terpenoids, steroids,
glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, and phenolic compounds, saponins, oils. H.undatus NA Kanchanaetal.
(2018)
Fruit Glycosides, alkaloids, saponins, phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids,
proteins, steroids. H.undatus colour tests Mahdietal.
(2018)
Peel 13 phenolic compounds: quinic acid, cinnamic acid, quinic acid isomer,
3,4-dihydroxyvinylbenzene, isorhamnetin 3-O-rutinoside, myricetin
rhamnohexoside, 3,30-di-O-methyl ellagic acid, isorhamnetin aglycone
monomer, apigenin, jasmonic acid, oxooctadecanoic acid,
2(3,4-dihydroxyphenyl)-7- hydroxy-5-benzene propanoic acid and
protocatechuic hexoside conjugate.
H.polyrhizus UHPLC-ESI-
QTRAP-MSMS
Zainetal.
(2019)
Pulp and Peel Seven betacyanin compounds inpulp and 10 betacyanins inpeel with
betanin, phyllocactin, and hylocerenin asmajor compounds found infruit
peel ofH.ocamponis. Pigments 1–10 ofbetacyanin profiles inH.ocamponis
fruit peel ofrevealed, including: betanidin 5-O-sophoroside, betanin,
2'-Apiosyl-betanin, phyllocactin, 4'-Malonyl-betanin, hylocerenin,
2'-Apiosyl-phyllocactin,
5''-O-E-Feruloyl-2'-apiosyl-betanin,
5''-O-E-Sinapoyl-2'-apiosyl-betanin, and
5''-O-E-Feruloyl-2'-apiosyl-phyllocactin.
H.ocamponis,
H.undatus,
H.purpusii,
H.costaricensis×H.polyrhizus,
and H.undatus x H.polyrhizus
HPLC Wybraniecetal.
(2007)
Pulp Four different types ofcarotenoids: two xanthophylls (lutein,
β-cryptoxanthin), and two carotenes (lycopene, β-carotene); vitamin A. H.undatus colour test
followed byUV-Vis
Moo-Huchinetal.
(2017)
Pulp and Peel Phenolics, flavonoids, betacyanins. H.polyrhizus colour test
followed byUV-Vis
Wuetal.
(2006)
Peel and Stem Phenolics. H.undatus colour test
followed byUV-Vis
Sometal.
(2019)
Pulp and Peel Phenolics. H.undatus and H.polyrhizus colour test
followed byUV-Vis
Nurliyanaetal.
(2010)
NA – not available
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datus×H.polyrhizus and they recognizedand identi-
fied seven (in pulps) and ten (in peels) different com-
pounds ofbetacyanins (thepigments used inthefood
industry due to their colorant properties). ey also
found that themost abundant betacyanins inthepeel
ofthespecies H.ocamponis were betanin, phyllocactin,
and hylocerenin (Table3).
Moo-Huchinetal. (2017) detected four different types
ofcarotenoids inan edible portion ofH.undatus, including
two xanthophylls (lutein, β-cryptoxanthin), and two caro-
tenes (lycopene, β-carotene). ey found high concentra-
tions oflutein and β-carotene (30.8and 209.1µg 100g–1
edible portion, respectively), aswell asvitaminA(34.9µg
100g–1) (Table3). Both vitaminA and carotenoids are
considered powerful antioxidants (Palaceetal. 1999).
Wuetal. (2006) analysed thepulp and peels ofred
pulp pitaya (H. polyrhizus) and found little variation
in the concentrations of phenolic contents [42.4 mg
gallic acid equivalents (GAE) 100g–1 flesh fresh weight
vs. 39.7mgGAE 100g–1 peel fresh weight], flavonoids
(7.21mg vs.8.33mg ofcatechin equivalents 100–1g
of flesh and peel matters), and betacyanins (10.3 mg
vs.13.8mg ofbetanin equivalents 100g–1 offresh flesh
and peel matters). While both peel and stem parts
of pitaya have phenolic contents (Som et al. 2019),
Nurliyanaetal. (2010) after analysing H.undatus and
H.polyrhizus reported higher concentrations ofthese
compounds inthepulps (36.12and 28.16mg 100g–1
offresh pulps, respectively) than inthepeels (3.75and
19.72mg 100g–1 offresh peels, respectively) (Table3).
Antioxidant activities. Exploitation of natural
antioxidant substrates inmedicinal plants with pre-
ventive influences oncellular damage caused byfree
radicals, which are involved in many diseases like
cancer, has been increasing (Young and Woodside
2001). us, thepopularity ofmany plants indisease
prevention could be attributed to the antioxidant
(radical-scavenging) properties of their constituent
phenolic compounds (such as flavonoids, phenolic
acids, stilbenes, lignans and tannins), alkaloids, and
vitaminC (Pietta 2000; Nyamaietal. 2016; Ganetal.
2017; Pehlivan 2017; San Miguel-Chávez 2017). Sev-
eral studies link the scavenging activity of antioxi-
dants with thecontent oftotal phenolic compounds
(Bertoncelj et al. 2007; Wu and Ng 2008). Phenolic
compounds, like phenolic acid (e.g. gallic acid) and
polyphenol (e.g.flavonoids), are highly correlated
with antioxidant activity (Nurliyanaetal. 2010), and
some ofthem have been proven invitro tobe more
effective antioxidants than vitaminC and vitaminE
(α-tocopherol)
(Rice-Evansetal. 1997; Table 3).
e antioxidant properties of the dragon fruit are
widely acknowledged and the antioxidant activity
ofdifferent species, as well as the antioxidant con-
tent
ofdifferent parts oftheplant (e.g. pulp, peel, stem,
foliage), have been subjected of many detailed stud-
ies (Wuet al. 2006; Nurliyana et al. 2010; Choo and
Yong 2011; Ramli et al. 2014b; Jerônimo et al. 2015;
Moo-Huchinetal. 2017; Mahdietal. 2018; Zainetal.
2019). Most studies have been focused ontwo species
of the genus Hylocereus, which stand out in cultiva-
tion and distribution: H. polyrhizus and H. undatus.
Two ofthemost widely used methods toevaluate an-
tioxidant activities are 2, 2'-diphenyl-β-picrylhydrazyl
(DPPH) (Brand-Williamset al. 1995) and 2,2'-azino-
bis (3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) (ABTS±)
(Reetal. 1999). Both are spectrophotometric techniques
based onquenching ofstable coloured radicals (DPPH
orABTS+) which determine theradical scavenging abil-
ity ofantioxidants even when present incomplex bio-
logical mixtures (e.g. plant orfood extracts).
Nurliyana et al. (2010) used DPPH assays to test
the radical scavenging activity of pulps and peels
ofH. polyrhizus and H. und atus and found that for
both species thepeels contained higher radical scav-
enging activity than the pulps. Moreover, the anti-
radical activity for peels of both species was higher
than that ofthe positive control, a potent synthetic
antioxidant named butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA),
atapproximate concentrations ofsample from 0.8to
1.0mg mL–1. IC50 [defined astheconcentration ofan
inhibitor where theresponse (or binding) isreduced
by half] values for the peels of H. polyrhizus and
H.undatus were 0.30and 0.40mgmL–1, respectively,
higher than BHA (0.15mg mL–1). Inthecase ofpulps
ofboth species, they showed low percentage ofradical
scavenging activities over themeasured extract con-
centrations, suggesting that their IC50 values could
be higher than 1.0 mg mL–1. Interestingly, the total
phenolic content (TPC) assay demonstrated that peels
ofboth Hylocereus species contained higher phenolic
content than thepulps.
In a further study with red pitaya (H. undatus),
Jerônimo et al. (2015) obtained similar results like
Nurliyanaetal. (2010) regarding thehigher antioxidant
activity ofthepeel compared tothepulp. us, thean-
tioxidant activity of the pitaya peel (445.2 mg mL–1)
was greater than inthepitaya pulp (1266.3mg mL–1).
ehighest concentration ofcompounds with antioxi-
dant activity inthefruit peels, usually discarded, sup-
ports its value asleftovers rich infibre, nutrients, and
bioactive compounds.
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eDPPH assay performed byChoo and Yong (2011)
ontheethanol extracts from pulp and fruit
(peel and
pulp) ofH.polyrhizus and H.undatus showed EC50 val-
ues of9.93and 11.34mg mL–1 for thepulp and fruit
ofH.polyrhizus, respectively, and of9.91and 14.61mg
mL–1 for thepulp and fruit ofH.undatus, respectively
[EC50 is defined as the concentration of a drug that
gives half-maximal response]. Within the same spe-
cies ofHylocereus, thefruits (peels and pulps) showed
ahigher phenolic content than thepulps, which was
also related to a higher antiradical power. However,
when the authors compared the antiradical power
of the two species of Hylocereus, they found that:
i)itwas not proportional tothetotal phenolic content
inthe pulps, i.e. thetotal phenolic content ofH. un-
datus pulp was higher than that of H. polyrhizus,
and ii) both species showed no significant difference
in the ascorbic acid content. ese results indicate
theimportance ofascorbic acid asanantioxidant and
suggest a synergistic relationship between the ascor-
bic acid and the phenolics in the radical scavenging
activity. evariation intheconcentration ofpheno-
lic compounds and ascorbic acid infruit isassociated
with thetype ofcultivation, thematuration stage, and
the conditions of cultivation, among others (Choo
andYong 2011; Jerônimoetal. 2015).
While most research on dragon fruit focuses
on the radical scavenging activity of pulps and peels,
limited research is carried out on the antioxidant ca-
pacity of other parts of the plant. Among these stud-
ies, Som et al. (2019) tested chloroform and methanol
extracts of foliage and peel ofwhite flesh dragon fruit
(H.undatus) for higher total phenolic content (TPC) and
antioxidant activity. eir results showed that methanol
solvent was more efficient than chloroform solvent toex-
tract phenolic content since theformer can extract both
polar and non-polar compounds, while the latter can
extract only non-polar compounds. According totheir
results, peels had higher TPC than foliage regardless
ofthesolvent used, but inany case, reaching higher con-
centrations after methanol extraction [48.15mg ofgal-
lic acid (GAE) 100g–1 peel extract and 18.89mg GAE
100g–1 peel extract for methanol and chloroform, re-
spectively, vs. 30.30mg GAE 100g–1 foliage extract and
5.92mg GAE 100g–1 foliage extract for methanol and
chloroform, respectively]. However, the DPPH assay
showed that theantioxidant activity ofchloroform ex-
tractions was higher compared tomethanol extractions.
According to the authors, the discrepancies between
theresults ofTPC and DPPH assays could beattributed
toreversible reactions between DPPH and some phe-
nols, and to the slow rate of reaction between DPPH
radicals and the substrate  olecules. Although chloro-
form extracts of peels had higher antioxidant activity
than those offoliage, and although there were nopre-
vious studies on theantioxidant value of dragon fruit
foliage, Sometal. (2019) concluded that foliage has in-
deed the potential as a natural antioxidant alternative
tothetoxicity associated tomany synthetic antioxidants.
Wuetal. (2006) measured for thefirst time thephe-
nolic content and antioxidant activity ofpeel and flesh
of red pitaya (H. polyrhizus) in order to determine
thevalue of this species as asource of antioxidants
and its potential role intheprevention ofdegenera-
tive diseases related tooxidative stress, such ascan-
cer. Acetone extracts from H.polyrhizus flesh and peel
were analysed for antioxidant activity using DPPH
and ABTS+ radical scavenging assays. e effective
concentrations determined by DPPH for flesh and
peel were 22.4 and 118.0µmol vitaminC equivalents
g–1 dried extract, respectively, and thevalues ofEC50
for ABTS+ were 28.3and 175.0µmol Trolox equiva-
lents antioxidant capacity (TEAC)g–1 dried extract,
respectively. e authors concluded that the effect
offlesh and peel onantioxidant activity could bere-
lated to the types of polyphenolics they contained.
Moreover, thehigher thenumber ofhydrogen-donat-
ing groups (e.g. –OH, –NH, –SH) inthe molecular
structure, thehigher theantioxidant activity. Inthis
sense, although thepitaya peel is usually wasted, its
slightly higher polyphenolic and betanin contents
make it a better antioxidant than the flesh, and it
should be considered a valuable compound against
cancer cell proliferation.
Antioxidant activities ofsupercritical carbon dioxide
extracts of H. undatus and H. polyrhizus peels were
evaluated byDPPH radical scavenging assay, compared
tothevitaminC standard. eEC50 values ofH.unda-
tus and H.polyrhizus peel were 0.91and 0.83mg mL–1,
respectively (Luoetal. 2014).
Moo-Huchinetal. (2017) performed astudy tode-
termine thecarotenoid composition and antioxidant
activities of carotenoid extracts from tropical fruits
from Yucatan (Mexico) including dragon fruit (H.un-
datus). e total carotenoid content of19 different
tropical fruits expressed asmg ofβ-carotene 100g1
ofedible portion ranged from 0.70 to36.41mg 100g–1.
Among the fruits evaluated, the highest carotenoid
content was found in the Mamey sapote fruit with
36.41 mg 100 g–1, while the dragon fruit contained
only 0.86mg 100g–1, followed bythegreen sugar ap-
ple with 0.70mg 100g–1. However, theDPPH method
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revealed that theantioxidant activity ofthedragon fruit
was higher than that ofseveral other analysed fruits, de-
spite having lower total carotenoid content compared
to other fruits. e study identified and quantified
byHPLC four carotenoids inthefruits, including two
xanthophylls (lutein and β-cryptoxanthin) and two car-
otenes (lycopene and β-carotene). econtents oflu-
tein, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and β-carotene found
indragon fruit were 30.8, 0.6, 3.2, and 209.1mg100g–1,
respectively, which were inthe mid-range ofconcen-
trations detected in the other fruits evaluated in this
study. According toMoo-Huchinetal. (2017), thepres-
ence ofcarotenoid contents intropical fruits like pita-
ya, with significant levels ofvitaminAprecursors such
asβ-cryptoxanthin and β-carotene, highlights theben-
efits of including tropical fruits in the diet, not only
because oftheir antioxidant activity but also asasup-
plement ofvitaminA, whose deficiency particularly af-
fects developing tropical countries.
Esquiveletal. (2007) studied thephenolic compound
profiles ofsix representatives ofthegenus Hylocereus,
including five Costa Rican genotypes of purple pitaya
(Hylocereus sp.), namely 'Lisa', 'Rosa', 'San Ignacio',
'Orejona' and 'Nacional', and H.polyrhizus fruits. eir
results showed that thegenotypes presented different
individual phenolic compound profiles, and the an-
tioxidant capacity of these fruits was mostly based
onbetalains, followed bytheir biosynthetic precursors,
while non-betalainic phenolic compounds had aminor
antioxidant role.
Abd Mananetal. (2019) determined thetotal pheno-
lic content, total flavonoid content, and antioxidant ca-
pacity ofwater extract from H.polyrhizus pulp. etotal
phenolic content was tested using theFolin-Ciocalteu
(F-C) assay (Folin and Ciocalteu 1927), the total fla-
vonoid content was determined bythespectrophoto-
metric method (modified after Stankovic etal. 2011),
and theantioxidant activity was measured byfour dif-
ferent procedures, such as DPPH, ABTS+, Ferric Ion
Antioxidant Power (FRAP) (modified after Benzie
and Strain 1996), and phosphomolybdate assay (based
onPrietoetal. 1999 and modified after Ahmed et al.
2015). e free radical scavenging activities of vari-
ous dilution factors of water extract of H. polyrhizus
pulp ranged from 61.61% to73.38% using DPPH, and
38.69% to92.66% after ABTS+. ehigher theconcen-
tration of the extract, the higher the antioxidant ac-
tivity. eantioxidant capacity, determined byFRAP
and phosphomolybdate assays, was 132.17 µmol Fe2+
equivalents 100 mL–1 of juice and 28.94 mg ascorbic
acid equivalents (AAE) 100mL–1 ofjuice, respectively.
efour used methods showed astrong positive corre-
lation between total phenolic and total flavonoid con-
tent ofthewater extract ofpulp and antioxidant activi-
ties. Moreover, according toAbd Mananetal. (2019),
pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries could ben-
efit from their results, since they support theuse ofwa-
ter asanatural, biodegradable and non-toxic solvent for
theextraction ofprofitable bioactive plant compounds,
e.g., polar and readily soluble inwater antioxidants such
asflavonoids and polyphenols.
Several studies support thebenefits oftheconsump-
tion of dragon fruit in the control and management
of oxidative stress related diseases. Diabetic infected
rats treated with water extract ofthefruit pulp ofH.un-
datus were able tocontrol oxidative stress through ade-
crease inmalondialdehyde (amarker ofoxidative stress)
levels, and an increase insuperoxide dismutase (anti-
oxidant enzyme) and total antioxidant capacity (Swa-
rupetal. 2010). Harahap and Amelia (2019) reported
that rats treated with white flesh dragon fruit extract
(H.undatus) and subjected toheavy physical exercise
showed alower lactic acid level and creatine kinase(CK)
activity, compared tountreated rats under heavy physi-
cal exercise. High levels oflactic acid can lead toare-
lease ofmuch more free radicals, and high CK activity
may beconsidered abiomarker for muscle tissue dam-
age. Doses of200and 300mg of red fruit extract kg
1
body weight effectively reduced thelevel ofacid lactic
and theCK activity. us, theexperiments conducted
inrats demonstrated that free radicals released during
heavy physical exercise were inhibited inthepresence
ofantioxidants from dragon fruit extract.
In short, dragon fruit has strong antioxidant proper-
ties as proven in numerous studies both in vitro and
in vivo. e high antioxidant contents of phenolics,
flavonoids, betalain, and ascorbic acid are responsible
for these activities. epitaya exhibits ahigh potential
asanatural agent todrive away aging-associated diseas-
es, mostly related tooxidative stress due toimbalance
between antioxidants and free radicals, such ascancer,
diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, Alzheimer’s
disease, Parkinson’s disease, and inflammation.
Antidiabetic properties. Diabetes mellitus is one
ofthe most common systemic diseases in theworld,
linked tohyperglucemia astheresult ofamalfunction
of the pancreas in the production of insulin and/or
totheinadequate sensitivity ofcells totheaction ofin-
sulin (American Diabetes Association 2009).
In thefolk medicine ofmany countries, diabetic treat-
ments have traditionally included plants such asneem
(Azadirachta indica), ivy gourd (Coccinia indica), bit-
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ter gourd (Momordica charantia), jamblon (Syzygium
cumini), aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis Miller), and chic-
ory (Cichorium intybus) (Ocvirketal. 2013; Kootietal.
2016; Adinorteyetal. 2019). Ingeneral, medicinal plants
show antidiabetic effects through biochemical mecha-
nisms such as recovery of pancreatic β-cell function,
improvement ofinsulin sensitivity byreceptors, stimu-
lation ofinsulin secretion, inhibition ofliver gluconeo-
genesis, enhanced glucose absorption, and inhibition
ofglucose-6-phosphatase, β-amylase, and β-glucosidase
activities (Adinorteyetal. 2019).
e antidiabetic capacity of dragon fruit has been
the subject of numerous studies. Omidizadeh et al.
(2014) investigated the anti-insulin resistant activity
from red pitaya (Hylocereus polyrhizus) ininsulin resis-
tant rats induced byfructose supplement. eresults
ofthis study showed that pitaya lessened insulin resis-
tance, suggesting that antioxidant and soluble dietary
fibre contents ofred pulp pitaya are responsible for its
anti-insulin resistant capacity.
Swarupetal. (2010) observed that theaqueous extract
ofthefruit pulp ofH.undatus atdoses of250and 500mg
kg–1 body weight decreased fasting blood glucose levels
in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats, although not
tonormal levels. Such lowering effect was limited and
could not beincreased with higher doses ofpulp extract.
eeffect ofred pitaya (H.polyrhizus) consumption
onblood glucose level and lipid profile oftype 2 dia-
betic patients was assessed inastudy ofAbd Hadietal.
(2012). eexperiment was conducted during aseven-
week period divided into three phases: one pre-treat-
ment week (phase1), four weeks oftreatment (phase2)
and two post-treatment weeks (phase3). During phase
two, patients were treated with 400gand 600g ofpitaya
per day, without interrupting their medication. Fast-
ing blood samples and anthropometric measurements
were monitored throughout thestudy totest theeffect
ofpitaya onblood glucose, triglyceride, and cholesterol
[total, low-density lipoprotein (LDL-) and high-density
lipoprotein (HDL-)] levels, aswell asBody Mass Index
(BMI). eresults showed that while theconsumption
of400g offruit was more effective inlowering triglyc-
eride levels, thetreatment with 600g was more effective
indecreasing blood glucose, total and LDL-cholesterol
levels, and increasing theHDL-cholesterol level. Body
weight and total body fat did not present any significant
differences between both treatments.
ebeneficial effects of red and white dragon fruit
indiabetes prevention were also investigated byPool-
supetal. (2017) through asystematic review and meta-
analysis ofmore than 401studies, including publica-
tions inmedical journals but also unpublished ac ademic
research, which compared the effect of dragon fruit
with placebo orno treatment inprediabetes ortype2
diabetes subjects. ere isageneral trend toobserve
agreater reduction ofblood glucose with higher doses
ofpitaya, but Poolsupetal. (2017) concluded that due
torestricted available data and poor quality ofclinical
evidence, further well-controlled clinical trials are yet
required tofurther evaluate theclinical benefits ofthis
fruit inprediabetes and type2 diabetes patients.
Antiviral and antimicrobial activity. Physiologi-
cal and biochemical basis ofplant resistance toattacks
by different pathogens (i.e. virus, fungi, or bacteria)
is related to secondary metabolites that plants syn-
thesised after a microbial infection (García-Mateos
and Pérez-Leal 2003; Montes-Belmont 2009; Hernán-
dez-Alvarado et al. 2018; Mickymaray 2019). Differ-
ent criteria can be used for the classification of sec-
ondary metabolites involved in plant immunity, i.e.
core structure, common precursors, and mechanisms
ofaction. According tothe mode ofbiosynthesis and
accumulation of defence-related phytochemicals, one
ofthemost frequently used criteria, defensive metabo-
lites produced and stored constitutively inplant tissue
are named phytoanticipins (e.g. saponins, glucosino-
lates, cyanogenic glucosides, and benzoxazinone glu-
cosides) whereas those synthesized de novo inresponse
to infection are termed phytoalexins (e.g. camalexin,
phenylalanine-derived phytoalexins like resveratrol,
isoflavonoids like glyceollins, or terpenoids) (Müller
and Börger 1940; Van Etten and Bateman 1971; Pax
ton
1981; Piasecka et al. 2015).
e benefits of the con-
sumption ofplants against a wide range ofpathogenic
microorganisms are associated with different bioac-
tive compounds, including secondary metabolites
with greater antimicrobial properties like flavonoids
(flavones, flavonols, flavanols, isoflavones, anthocyani-
dins), terpenoids (sesquiterpene lactones, diterpenes,
triterpenes, polyterpenes), steroids, phenolic acids
(hydroxybenzoic, hydroxycinnamic acids), stilbenes,
lignans, quinones, tannins, coumarins (simple couma-
rins, furanocoumarins, pyranocoumarins), alkaloids,
glycosides, saponins, lectins, and polypeptides, which
exhibit agreat antimicrobial potential (Iwuetal. 1999;
Chandaetal. 2010; Naseeretal. 2012; Fadipeetal. 2013;
Umeretal. 2013; Taheraetal. 2014, Mickymaray 2019).
eantimicrobial activity oftheplant extracts and their
bioactive compounds involves different mechanisms
such astopromote microbial cell wall disruption and
lysis, induce generation of oxygen species production
tokill microbes, prevent biofilm formation ofbacteria,
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in
hibit cell wall construction, inhibit several enzymes
related tothereplication ofmicrobial DNA, inhibit en-
ergy synthesis ofmicrobes, and inhibit bacterial toxins
tothehost (Mickymaray 2019).
e antiviral activity of betacyanin, a red-violet pig-
ment belonging to the betalains, from red pulp pitaya
(H.polyrhizus) against dengue virus type2 (DENV-2) has
been recently studied byChangetal. (2020). Toobtain be-
tacyanins, theauthors extracted thepulp ofred pitaya us-
ing methanol. Vero cells were infected with DENV-2, incu-
bated with different concentrations ofbetacyanin for 48h
at37°C, and then thepercentageofvirus yield inhibition
was studied. eresults demonstrated adose-dependent
virucidal effect ofbetacyanin against DENV-2 after virus
adsorption tothehost cells, with anIC50 of126.7μgmL−1
and 95.0% ofvirus inhibition atthemaximum non-toxic
betacyanin concentration (379.5 μgmL−1). An extract
concentration below 2.5mgmL–1, i.e.content ofbetacya-
nins below 379.5μgmL−1, was determined asnon-cyto-
toxic toVero cells.
e biological functions, i.e. antimicrobial, anti-
oxidant and anticancer capacities, and major bioac-
tive compounds of methanolic stem extract ofpitaya
(H. polyrhizus) were evaluated by Ismail et al. (2017)
applying agar cup plate (500 µg stem extract per
cup)and disk diffusion (100µg stem extract per dish)
methods. e 95% methanol extract showed strong
broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against five
pathogenic strains, including Gram-positive and
Gram-negative bacteria (S. aureus and Pseudomonas
aeruginosa, respectively), yeast (Candida albicans)
and moulds (Aspergillus niger and Fusarium oxyspo-
rum) expressedbyinhibition zones as29.0, 29.0, 29.5,
17.5, and 29.5mm bycup agar method (100 μL/cup),
and 9.5, 11.0, 10.0, 8.0, and 16.5mm bydisk diffusion
method (20 μL/disk) against S.aureus, P.aeruginosa,
C.albicans, A.niger and F.oxysporum, respectively.
e strong antimicrobial activity of methanol pitaya
stem extract could berelated tothesynergistic action
ofits oxygenated terpenes like 5-cedranone, eucalyptol,
and α-terpineol (Hammeretal. 2003; Ismailetal. 2017).
In another study about the potential application
ofpitaya peels asanatural source ofantibacterial agents,
Nurmahaniet al. (2012) used disc diffusion and broth
micro-dilution methods to evaluate the antibacterial
properties ofethanol, chloroform, and hexane extracts
from
H. polyrhizus (red flesh pitaya) and H. undatus
(white flesh pitaya) against nine pathogens, i.e. Bacillus
cereus, S.aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, Enterococ-
cus faecalis, Salmonella typhimurium, E. coli, Klebsi-
ella pneumoniae, Yersinia enterocoliti
ca, and Campylo-
bacter jejuni. eir results showed that all theextracts
tested exhibited inhibition zones of about 7–9 mm
against certain bacteria, indicating a broad-spectrum
activity against both Gram-positive and Gram-neg-
ative bacteria. e chloroform extract of the peel
of both pitaya species had the most powerful anti-
bacterial activity compared with ethanol and hexane
extracts, with H. polyrhizus peel being greater than
H.undatus peel. Chloroform extract of H. polyrhizus
was themost potent antibacterial extract, successfully
inhibiting thegrowth ofall bacteria at1.25mgmL–1.
Nevertheless, although all the bacteria were to some
extent sensitive to the different extracts tested, with
minimum inhibitory concentrations for the different
extracts ranging from 1.25 mg mL–1 to 10 mg mL–1,
thechloroform extract ofred flesh pitaya peel stands
out as a good source of natural antibacterial agent
against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacte-
ria. eauthors highlighted thepotential value ofpita-
ya peel, usually discarded asdomestic waste, asanun-
derestimated source ofantibacterial agents.
estudy ofKhalili etal. (2012) analysed the anti-
bacterial activity of methanol peel and flesh extracts
from red flesh pitaya, white flesh pitaya, and papaya
against pathogenic food microorganisms, including
Staphylococcus epidermidis, S. aureus, Enterococcus
faecalis, L. monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica Typhi,
Serratia marcescens, Shigella flexneri, Klebsiella sp.,
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and E.coli.
eantimicrobial activity ofthemethanolic extracts
against each pathogenic bacterium was evaluated by
theagar diffusion assay. Inshort, themethod consisted
in inoculating and spreading 100 μL of a suspension
containing 108CFU mL–1 ofbacteria on nutrient agar
plates and distributing sterile disks (6mm diameter) im-
pregnated with 30 μL ofextract solutions (100mg mL–1),
and ofthepositive controls penicillin G (10 μg per disc)
and gentamicin (10 μg perdisc) used asstandards tode-
termine thesensitivity ofeach bacterial species tested.
einoculated plates were incubated at37°C for 24h,
and the antibacterial activity of each compound was
evaluated bymeasuring inmillimetres (mm) thediam-
eter oftheinhibition zone associated with each impreg-
nated disk. High antibacterial activities were associ-
ated with inhibition zones ofat least 14mm (including
thediameter of the disc). While white pitaya and pa-
paya flesh and peel extracts did not inhibit thegrowth
ofseveral ofthetested bacteria, they showed some ac-
tivity (inhibition zones less than 11mm) mostly against
Gram-positive bacteria. Ontheother hand, themetha-
nolic red pitaya flesh extract produced inhibition zones
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with diameters larger than 14 mm, i.e. high antimi-
crobial activity, against all theGram-positive bacteria
tested and all theGram-negative bacteria except S.flex-
neri (12.50±0.90mm). ese inhibition zones created
by the methanolic fruit extracts were larger in some
cases than those generated bythestandard antibiotics.
eresults ofKhalilietal. (2012) showed thepotential
offruit extracts asasource for theproduction ofdrugs,
since they demonstrated antimicrobial activity against
a broad spectrum of bacteria, including those strains
which developed resistance to frontline antimicrobial
drugs (e.g. E.coli).
Arecent study ofZainetal. (2019) also tested theanti-
bacterial activity ofthepitaya (H.polyrhizus) peel extract
and found asmall antibacterial effect ontheGram-posi-
tive and Gram-negative bacteria, S.aureus and E.coli, re-
spectively. eauthors concluded that despitethesmall
antibacterial effect ofthepitaya peel extract, theresults
were consistent with previous works which considered
that it was yet sufficient tosupport its use as a natural
colour source and antibacterial agent infood and cos-
metic products (Majheničet al. 2007; Guoet al. 2011;
Mbacketal. 2016).
It is stated that betacyanins, phenolics, fatty acids,
alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, terpenes and α-terpineol
might be responsible for the antimicrobial activity
ofdragon fruit (Khalilietal. 2012; Nurmahanietal. 2012;
Ismailetal. 2017).
Anticancer activity. eantiproliferative potential
ofdragon fruit isrelated toits content ofstrong antiox-
idants such aspolyphenol, anthocyanin, betalains, ste-
roids and triterpenoids (Wuetal. 2006; Luoetal. 2014;
Guimarãesetal. 2017). Among these compounds, aside
from antimicrobial and antiviral properties, betalains
can also inhibit thelipid peroxidation, cyclooxygenase
(COX-1 and COX-2) enzymes and proliferation ofhu-
man tumour cells (Stracketal. 2003; Reddyetal. 2005;
Afandietal. 2017).
Supercritical carbon dioxide extracts ofpitaya peels
from H.polyrhizus and H.undatus possess antioxidant
and cytotoxic activities, asdemonstrated byLuoetal.
(2014). e extracts of both pitaya species showed
cytotoxic activity against three types of cells, i.e. PC3
(human prostate cancer cell line), Bcap-37 (human
breast cancer cell line), and MGC-803 (human gastric
cancer cell line) with IC50 values ranging from 0.61to
0.73mgmL–1. Luoetal. (2014) also identified β-amyrin,
β-sitosterol, and stigmast-4-en-3-one as the com-
pounds responsible for thecytotoxic activities.
Guimarães et al. (2017) studied the protective ef-
fect ofH.polyrhizus pulp extract against breast cancer.
ey observed adecrease incell proliferation inMCF-
7 (ER+) cell line treated with pulp extract (500to
1 000 μg mL-1). e cell cycle analysis showed that
thepulp extract caused anincrease inG0/G1phase fol-
lowed byadecrease inG2/Mphase. Moreover, theex-
tract induced apoptosis in MCF-7 cells and suppres-
sion ofBRCA1, BRCA2, PRAB
(progesterone receptor
isoform A and B), and Erα (estrogenic receptorα)
gene expressions.
Wuetal. (2006) also proved theantiproliferative ac-
tivity of pitaya extract against B16F10 melanoma cell
line. is study revealed that theantiproliferative activ-
ity ofthepeel extract onB16F10 melanoma cancer cells
was stronger than that ofthepulp extract.
Wound healing activity. Wound healing isacomplex
process consisting ofseveral stages aimed atrestoring
theintegrity ofdamaged tissues, and involving different
cell populations, theextracellular matrix, and theaction
ofsoluble mediators such as growth factors and cyto-
kines. Wound management constitutes adaily challenge
inclinical pathology and it often fails without anappro-
priate physiological, endocrine, and nutritional support
(Velnaretal. 2009).
Tsaiet al. (2019) used ethanol-water extracts from
different parts ofHylocereus polyrhizus, such aspeel,
stem, and flower toperform an in vitro test oftheir
wound healing properties. NIH-3T3 fibroblast cell line
was used totest cell migration ability inthescratch as-
say. eresult showed that thestem and flower ofdrag-
on fruit extracts in95% aqueous ethanol at the con-
centration of1 000 μg mL–1 promoted themigration
of fibroblasts after 24 h which play a crucial role
in the wound healing process. In this study, the ex-
tracts from thestem, peel, and flower in95% aqueous
ethanol ofthedragon fruit had high activity inDNA
damage protection. epowerful antioxidants present
inthedragon fruit extracts include phenolic and flavo-
noid contents involved, inter alia, inDNA protection
and wound healing activities, properties with poten-
tial applications inthepharmaceutical, cosmetic, and
food industries.
Perezetal. (2005) studied thewound healing proper-
ties ofaqueous extracts ofleaves, rind, pulp, and flowers
ofH.undatus inwounded streptozotocin-diabetic rats.
Excision and incision wounds were inflicted ontheback
ofeach rat, and they were treated with different concen-
trations (0.05%, 0.1%, 0.2%, 0.4%, and 0.5%) ofaqueous
extracts (200 μL per wound), which were applied topi-
cally twice daily for seven days. Both types of wounds
were observed daily for the aspect and evolution
ofthescratch and scar (including thenumber ofdays
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https://doi.org/10.17221/139/2020-CJFS
required for thescar to fall off). Additionally, for in-
cision wounds, the tensile strength after removing
the sutures on day seven was measured on day ten.
eresults showed that thetopical application ofpita-
ya extracts contributed significantly towound healing,
and H.undatus did not have any hypoglycaemic activ-
ity. However, thehealing activity was significant only
for theaqueous extracts of flowers and leaves, while
the extracts of pulp and peel showed lower wound
healing activity and therind extract produced aweak
cicatrising effect. eflower extract ofH.undatus had
themost marked effect onwounded areas. Perezetal.
(2005) concluded that thetopical application ofH.un-
datus extracts instreptozotocin-diabetic rats increased
hydroxyproline (related toenhanced collagen synthe-
sis), tensile strength, total proteins and DNA collagen
content, leading tobetter epithelisation and facilitating
thehealing process.
Astudy conducted byJuliastuti et al. (2020) pro-
vided further evidence ofthebenefits ofdragon fruit
inwound healing processes, through theformation
ofcollagen fibre density. eauthors observed that
treatment with H. polyrhizus peel ethanol extract
ata30% concentration increased thedensity ofcol-
lagen fibres after tooth extraction inWistar rats com-
pared tothecontrol.
Anti-hyperlipidaemic and anti-obesity activities.
Dyslipidaemia isacomplex disease and major risk fac-
tor for adverse cardiovascular events, as it is known
topromote atherosclerosis (Poletal. 2018).
With theaim ofevaluating the effect of red dragon
fruit peel powder (H.polyrhizus) ontheblood lipid lev-
els, Hernawatietal. (2018) fed different groups ofhy-
perlipidaemic Balb-C male mice with different doses
ofpitaya peel powder, ranging from 50to 200mg kg–1
body weight (BW) during 30days. After thetreatment,
blood samples of each group were analysed for total
cholesterol levels, triglycerides, and low-density lipo-
protein cholesterol (LDL-c) and theresults showed that
all these parameters decreased along with increasing
doses ofred dragon fruit peel powder. Hernawatietal.
(2018) pointed that pitaya peel powder supplemented
infoods would contribute topreventing hyperlipidae-
mia thanks tothebenefits associated with its composi-
tion: i) ahigh content ofcrude fibre inthepeel (69.30%
total dietary fibre, divided into 56.50% insoluble food
fibre and 14.82%. soluble food fibre) helps to lower
theenergy intake since it traps cholesterol and bile ac-
ids inthe small intestine, it can increase insulin sen-
sitivity, and it also increases satiety; ii) ahigh content
of antioxidants, phenol and particularly tocotrienol
(vitaminE) reduces liver cholesterol levels and plasma
total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations.
estudy ofSuastutietal. (2018) ontheanti-obesity
and hypolipidaemic activity of methanol flesh extract
ofH.costaricensis showed that obese rats fed theflesh
extract at a dose of 100 mg kg–1 BW decreased sig-
nificantly their body weight, Lee obesity index, organ
weight, visceral fat weight, total cholesterol, low-density
lipoprotein, triglycerides, very low-density lipoprotein,
and total cholesterol/high-density lipoprotein (HDL)
ratio. Incontrast, theconcentration ofHDL-cholesterol,
faecal fat and cholesterol increased inthese rats.
Sudhaetal. (2017) evaluated invitro theantioxidant,
antidiabetic, and anti-lipase activities of white pitaya
(H.undatus) juice extract. ephytochemical screening
ofthewhite dragon fruit revealed thepresence ofbioac-
tive compounds with antioxidant, antidiabetic, and anti-
lipase activities, such astriterpenoid, alkaloid, flavonoid,
and saponin, with great value and potential uses.
In short, bioactive compounds in dragon fruit ex-
tracts, including crude fibre, phenolic, polyphenol, and
flavonoid content, contribute tothedecrease ofserum
lipid profile, since these antioxidants are able toinhibit
theabsorption ofcholesterol intheintestine, facilitat-
ing its excretion through thefaeces (Hernawatiet al.
2018; Suastutietal. 2018).
Hepatoprotective activity. A recent study of Par-
mar et al. (2019) evaluated possible hepatoprotec-
tive properties of methanolic extract of dragon fruit
against acetaminophen-induced liver injury in rats.
eanimals were treated for three days, 30 min prior
toacetaminophen ingestion (3g kg–1day–1, p.o.), w
ith
different doses ofmethanolic extract ofpitaya (300and
500 mg kg–1, p.o.) and silymarin (200 mg kg–1, p.o.),
a standardised extract obtained from seeds of Sily-
bum marianum widely used in thetreatment of liver
diseases ofvarying origins, used inthestudy for com-
parative purposes. At the end of the last treatment,
blood was collected and analysed for various serum
enzymes, and the rats were sacrificed for histological
studies. e results obtained by Parmar et al. (2019)
supported theantioxidant and hepatoprotective poten-
tial ofpitaya, both atenzymatic and histological levels:
theenzyme levels ofalanineand aspartate aminotrans-
ferase, alkaline phosphatase, total and direct bilirubin,
lactate dehydrogenase, gamma-glutamyl transferase
and total protein, aswell asoxidative stress parameters
such aslevels ofmalondialdehyde, reduced glutathione
and activity ofsuperoxide dismutase and catalase were
found tobe restored towards normalisation bytheex-
tract ofdragon fruit comparable tosilymarin. Moreo-
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https://doi.org/10.17221/139/2020-CJFS
ver, dragon fruit was found non-toxic even atthehigh-
est dose of5gkg–1.
Cauilan (2019) evaluated theprotective effect of theoral
administration ofcrude and ethanolic H.polyrhizus fruit
extracts (2500mg kg–1 BW), compared tothestandard
treatment with silymarin, inrats with carbon tetrachlo-
ride (CCl4) induced hepatic damage.
Hepatoprotective
activity was detected bysignificant decreases inserum
g
lutamic-pyruvic transaminase and serum glutamic-ox-
aloacetic transaminase levels among rats administered
with H.polyrhizus extracts, compared toboth thecon-
trol group (without dragon fruit extract) and thesilyma-
rin treated group. is study suggested that thehepato-
protective activity ofpitaya could berelated toits rich
composition ofantioxidants such astriterpenes, flavo-
noids, glycosides, tannins, saponin, and alkaloids.
Cardiovascular protective activity. Cardiovascular
disease istheleading cause ofdeath inmen and women
indeveloped countries and accounts for up toathird
of all deaths worldwide. Increased arterial stiffness
isassociated with anincreased risk of cardiovascular
events. Lifestyle change and/or an appropriate treat-
ment can reverse thearterial stiffness associated with
some medical conditions. etherapeutic and preven-
tive potential ofpitaya against oxidative stress-related
diseases, mostly related to its bioactive compounds
such asantioxidants, has attracted theinterest ofsev-
eral studies. Omidizadeh et al. (2011) corroborated
thehypothesis that polyphenols and antioxidant con-
tent would bethe cardioprotective compounds of red
pitaya. ey also warned that thekey tofood process-
ing being able topreserve thenutritional value and car-
dioprotective benefits ofthetropical fruits istheselec-
tion oftheright thermal processing methods.
Swarupetal. (2010) proved that nutritional supple-
mentation with water pulp extract from H. undatus
pitaya tostreptozotocin-induced diabetic rats signifi-
cantly decreased theaortic stiffness, measured aspulse
wave velocity. Ramlietal. (2014a) proved that diastolic
stiffness oftheheart was reduced after thesupplement
ofpitaya juice inhigh-carbohydrate and high-fat diet-
induced metabolic syndrome rats.
Anti-inflammatory activity. Because of its com-
position, including compounds such as betalains and
squalene, Dragon fruit has antioxidant and anti-inflam-
matory properties. Rodriguezetal. (2016) reported anti-
inflammatory activity ofmaltodextrin encapsulated
and
non-encapsulated betalains from H. polyrhizus peel
extract. Betalains are unstable and sensitive todegrada-
tive factors such as temperature, pH, oxygen, orlight,
but their bioactivity can beextended by encapsulation
through theaddition ofa protective and impermeable
layer (Jackman and Smith 1996; Mulinacci and Inno-
centi 2012; Rodriguez et al. 2016). Betalains inhibited
sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS)-induced vascular irrita-
tion ofduck embryo chorioallantoic membrane (CAM).
Encapsulated betalains by maltodextrin-gum Arabic
ormaltodextrin-pectin matrices exhibited five- tosix-
fold higher anti-inflammatory activity comparedtonon-
encapsulated betalains. e strong anti-inflammatory
activity ofbetalains from H.polyrhizus peels may beat-
tributed totheir strong antioxidant activity. Free radi-
cals may be main pro-inflammatory mediators; thus,
removal ofthemediators leads toalleviation ofthein-
flammatory response (Rodriguezetal. 2016).
Eldeenetal. (2020) investigated theanti-inflammato-
ry properties offlesh and peel ofH.undatus and identi-
fied its main bioactive compounds. T
hey found beta-
lains, which are known tohave high radical scavenging
activity, and they reported for thefirst time thepres-
ence of squalene (a polyunsaturated hydrocarbon
with aformula ofC30H50 and formed bysix isoprene
units) intheflesh ofthefruit asthedominant constitu-
ent (13.2%).
According totheir results, squalene exhib-
ited inhibitory activity against three pro-inflammatory
enzymes, i.e. 5-lipoxygenase, cyclooxygenase-2, and
acetylcholinesterase, with EC50 values ranging be-
tween 46 and 47 μg mL–1. e study ofEldeen etal.
(2020) showed the potential of pitaya for the man-
agement of neuronal and inflammatory conditions
through different mechanisms including leukotrienes,
prostaglandins, and cholinergic pathways.
Anti-anaemia activity. Pitaya contains essential nu-
trients, including precursors required for theerythro-
poiesis, such asiron (Fe), vitamins C, E, B12, thiamine,
and riboflavin (Tenoreet al. 2012). Rahmawatiet al.
(2019) conducted astudy toevaluate theeffect ofdrag-
on fruit onpostpartum mothers, who are considered
susceptible toanaemia. Postpartum mothers were sup-
plied with 400cc ofH.polyrhizus fruit juice (obtained
from 500g ofpitaya) for 14days. eresults showed
that levels ofhaemoglobin, haematocrit, and erythro-
cytes increased significantly in the treatment group,
compared to the control group. According to Rah-
mawati et al. (2019), the high content of vitamin C
inthedragon fruit is responsible for its anti-anaemia
activity, asit facilitates theabsorption ofiron needed
intheproduction ofblood and non-heme iron.
Prebiotic potential. Prebiotics are non-digestible oli-
gosaccharides that stimulate thegrowth ofnormal flora
inthecolon and provide protective effects against intes-
tinal diseases, such ascolon cancer (Gibsonetal. 2004;
86
Review Czech Journal of Food Sciences, 39, 2021 (2): 71–94
https://doi.org/10.17221/139/2020-CJFS
Khuituanetal. 2019). White and red-flesh dragon fruit
contains, asmajor carbohydrates, glucose, fructose, and
some oligosaccharides (total concentrations of86.2and
89.6 g kg–1, respectively) (Wichienchot et al. 2010).
efruit ofHylocereus undatus contains ahigh amount
ofmixed oligosaccharides (75% ofdry matter with apre-
dominant degree ofpolymerisation 2, 3, 4, and 5) (Pan-
saietal. 2020). epercentage ofmixed oligosaccharide
content inH.undatus ethanolic flesh extract was quanti-
fied as
85% (Chooetal. 2016). Pansaietal. (2020) evalu-
ated the properties of dragon fruit as potential prebi-
otics and immune capacity stimulant and found that
dragon fruit oligosaccharides (DFO) increased faecal
bifidobacteria and lactobacilli but decreased bacteroides
and clostridia. Additionally, thestudy showed that DFO
also have immune response boosting properties by in-
creasing concentrations ofimmunoglobulinAandG.
Wichienchot et al. (2010) investigated the dragon
fruit asapotential source ofhigh-yielding oligosaccha-
rides for commercial prebiotic production. ey found
theoptimal extraction conditions for pitaya flesh in80%
(w/v) ethanol, solvent toflesh ratio of2:1 atambient
temperature (ca.28°C). eir results showed that oli-
gosaccharides from dragon fruit have several functional
properties which make them suitable as ingredients
in functional food and nutraceutical products. ese
properties include reduced calorie intake and insuli-
naemia, compared todigestible carbohydrates, and par-
ticularly prebiotic properties, such asresistance toacid
conditions in the human stomach, partial resistance
tohuman salivary α-amylase and thecapability tostim-
ulate thegrowth oflactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
euse ofdragon fruit asadietary supplement has
further benefits associated with its mixed oligosaccha-
ride content, including theincrease ofcolonic smooth
muscle contractions without morphological change,
bulk-forming facilitation, and laxative stimulation
toincrease faecal output and intestinal motility (Khu-
ituanetal. 2019).
DRAGON FRUIT IN VIETNAM
Productions and exports ofdragon fruits inViet-
nam.
Atthepresent time, two species ofdragon fruit,
Hylocereus undatus (white flesh) and H.polyrhizus (red
flesh), are widely cultivated in63/65 provinces/cities
ofVietnam, occupying about 95% and 5% ofthetotal
cultivated area, respectively (Hoatetal. 2018). eto-
tal growing area ofdragon fruit inVietnam expanded
quickly from 5512 ha in 2000 to55 419 ha in2018,
with total output production of1074242 t and export
values ofabout USD1.1billion. Moreover, according
to the Vietnamese General Department of Customs,
dragon fruit accounts for 32% ofthetotal export val-
ue of vegetables and fruits of Vietnam (Hien 2019).
Pitaya iscurrently cultivated all around the country,
although most growing areas are located inthesouth-
east and the Mekong River Delta (Figure 2). ree
provinces concentrate most oftheproduction and are
specialised inlarge-scale cultivation, i.e. Binh uan,
Tien Giang, and Long An, indecreasing order ofcrop
extension and production. us, Binh uan province
has thelargest area ofpitaya inVietnam accounting for
about 52.28% ofthetotal cultivated area and 55.11%
oftheproduction. Long Anis thesecond largest area,
with 20.35% ofcultivated area and 24.51% ofthepro-
duction. Atthethird place, Tien Giang province con-
tributes with 14.48% of cultivated area and 15.04%
oftheproduction (Hoatetal. 2018; Hien 2019).
Vietnam leads theworld inthis exotic tropical fresh
fruit exports, with 80–85% of the output production
being exported to over 40countries and territories,
while only the remaining 15–20% of the production
isconsumed in domestic markets. e main key mar-
kets are China, ailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singa-
pore, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, the United
Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and the United States
(Hoatetal. 2018; Hien 2019). According totheMinis-
try of Industry and Trade of Vietnam, 80% of dragon
fruit produced inVietnam isexported toChina and 99%
ofdragon fruit ontheChinese market isimported from
Vietnam (e Asia Foundation 2019). However, this
situation isslowly changing, as China has been gradu-
ally increasing the growing areas of dragon fruit and
exploiting potential export markets for this fruit has be-
come necessary for theVietnamese economy. Asurvey
oftheCentre for thePromotion ofImports (CBI) from
developing countries (CBI 2019) revealed that Europe
isapotentially big market toexport dragon fruit. How-
ever, expanding totheEuropean market requires high-
quality standards, where the collaboration and aware-
ness ofall theactors involved inthecontrol ofthepitaya
production processes are necessary for the acquisition
ofboth international and national standard certificates
for thegood agricultural practices (GAP), such asGlob-
al GAP and Viet GAP, which guarantee clean and safe
products for health and environment.
estate ofcultivations ofdragon fruit atMekong
River Delta. e Mekong River Delta (in the south-
western region in Vietnam) has typical climate con-
ditions of a tropical country, including two seasons,
i.e.wet and dry. Under climate change conditions, lack
87
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https://doi.org/10.17221/139/2020-CJFS
ofwater and increase ofsalinity levels inthedry season
have been raising serious problems intheregion (East-
hametal. 2008). Although dragon fruit is commonly
known as a salt sensitive plant (Mizrahi et al. 1997;
Cavalcanteetal. 2008), it tolerates salinities upto6.4‰
(10.0dSm–1) depending ontheplant vegetative stage
(Bárcenas-Abogadoetal. 2002; Cavalcanteetal. 2008).
Inaddition, dragon fruit has high drought resistance
(Nieetal. 2015; Wangetal. 2019). AttheVietnamese
province ofCa Mau (Figures2and4), local farmers
experimentally planted dragon fruit in a mangrove
area, using a white mangrove tree (Avicennia mari-
na) asatrellis. Interestingly, dragon fruits improved
their tolerant capacity and grew well under these
salinity conditions (Figure4). Currently, although
thecrop yield isnot asproductive asthat ofdragon
fruit from other regions inthecountry where it grows
under "normal" soil conditions, theharvested fruits
achieved a good reputation among local consumers
(Binh-Nguyen 2020).
Two ofthethree provinces with thelargest planting
areas ofdragon fruit, and therefore concentrating most
oftheproduction inVietnam, are located intheMekong
Delta region, i.e. Long Anand Tien Giang. When con-
sidered together, they contribute toalmost all thegrow-
ing areas of pitaya in the Mekong Delta (Hoat et al.
2018; Figure5). Tra Vinh province, also located
in the Mekong Delta and smaller than Long An and
Tien Giang provinces, has been strongly investing and
developing new plantations ofdragon fruit (Hoatetal.
2018; Figure5). Tra Vinh isthepoorest coastal province
intheMekong River Delta, with over 80% ofthepopu-
lation dependent ontheagricultural sector and about
30% of the Khmer people population (World Bank
Group 1999). Hence, finding theway towards asustain-
able agriculture development, inthecontext oftheseri-
ous lack offresh water and saline infiltration, isakey
duty for thelocal governments oftheMekong Delta re-
gion. emap oftheexpansionof theareas dedicated
tothe cultivation of dragon fruit in the three biggest
production provinces oftheMekong Delta since 2010
shows a remarkable hectare increase in all the prov-
inces (Figure5). is growth trend, however, isslightly
different over thetime in each province. us, while
Long Anexperienced the greatest growth in thearea
(ha) dedicated topitaya intheperiods 2010–2013 and
2013–2016, with increases up to3.0and 2.5times, re-
spectively, Tien Giang and Tra Vinh exhibited an in-
crease of about 1.5to nearly 2.0times in these years.
Intheperiod 2016–2019, thegrowth trend ofareas ded-
icated topitaya cultivation was maintained inthethree
provinces, but while Tien Giang and Long Anshowed
arise ofonly 2.0and 1.5times, respectively, Tra Vinh
increased 4.0times thecultivation areas.
e commitment of Vietnam to the production
ofdragon fruit isclearly shown bytheremarkable in-
crease incultivated areas, particularly intheMekong
River Delta. eexports ofthis product have brought
Figure 4. Dragon fruit grown clung tothewhite mangrove trees inthemangrove area ofCa Mau province, Vietnam
Arrows show white mangrove trees [Avicennia marina(Forssk.) Vierh.]; arrowheads point todragon fruit clung tothetree
(adapted from Binh-Nguyen 2020)
88
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https://doi.org/10.17221/139/2020-CJFS
great benefits for Vietnamese agriculture, proving its
value in the sustainable development of the country,
especially inthesouthwestern region.
CONCLUSION
Due toits nutritional and medical properties, thedrag-
on fruit brings numerous benefits tohuman health, most-
ly for thecontrol and management oftheoxidative stress.
All thedifferent parts of the pitaya (i.e. stems, flowers,
peels, and pulps) contain bioactive compounds involved
inawide range ofbeneficial biological activities, includ-
ing, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anticancer capaci-
ties. ese include betalains, flavonoids, polyphenols,
terpenoids and steroids, saponins, alkaloids, tannins, and
carotenoids, which have been proven aseffective, health-
ier, safer and sustainable alternatives tosynthetic drugs
for thetreatment and prevention ofmany diseases such
asdiabetes, cancer, obesity, hyperlipidaemia and patho-
genic agents such asviruses, bacteria, and fungi. Besides
the pharmaceutical value of its compounds, the pitaya
isalso anatural source ofcolourants with potential uses
inthefood and cosmetic industries.
e dragon fruit, due to its ecological characteris-
tics, benefits to human health, and the commercial
value has become acost-effective product for theViet-
namese economy and adriving force inthesustainable
development of the country, particularly in the pro-
motion of sustainable use of ecosystems and biodi-
versity of the southwestern region, more sensitive
totheeffects of climate change. ehigh adaptability
and tolerance ofthepitaya toawide range ofsevere en-
vironmental conditions explains thesuccess oftheex-
perimental planting model of this climbing cactus
in the mangrove areas (high salinity environment)
of the Mekong Delta region. Further studies are yet
needed tounderstand theadaptive mechanisms under-
lying saline tolerance ofthedragon fruit and toselect
genotypes capable of growing under the increasingly
severe conditions caused byglobal climate change.
Acknowledgement. We would like tothank theTra
Vinh Statistical Office, Vietnam for theprovided data
related tocultivated dragon fruit areas inVietnam.
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... The improved ABTS result for US25S was consistent with the improved retention of TPC and likely connected to the lower drip loss and breaking of covalent and ionic bonds between the phenolic compounds and cell walls [15]. In addition, hydroxylated derivatives were reported to enhance antioxidant activities produced during ultrasound treatments, and these derivatives could also contribute to the increase in ABTS during IRD, especially for US25S [4,33]. ...
... Similar increases in ABTS by UT-FT have been reported for okra during vacuum freeze-drying [34]. The antioxidant potential of foods is usually associated with the antioxidant properties of their constituent phytochemicals like flavonoids, tannins, phenolic acids, and belatains, hence, the increases for MW3S might be connected with the better preservation of heat-labile phenolic and flavonoid compounds by lower radiative energy during thawing [15]. More so, the power-dependent increases in ABTS for MW-FTS might be related to the leaching of phytochemicals caused by increased catabolization of biomolecules at high-power MW-FT treatments. ...
... Furthermore, the combined effects of reduced thawing time and limited radiation impingement on samples during thawing were likely responsible for the preservation of phytochemicals like ascorbic acid and betaxanthin, which correspondingly improved HRSA [15]. On the other hand, high-temperature US-FT might cause catabolism of biomacromolecules by cavitation, leading to their losses by leaching [8]. ...
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The effects of thermoultrasound (US-FT), microwave (MW-FT), and room temperature (RT-FT) freeze-thaw pretreatments were evaluated for improving drying kinetics and quality during infrared drying (IRD) of red dragon fruit slices (RDFS). Results indicated that microstructural alterations induced by the different pretreatments improved the moisture removal rate and effective diffusivity, and significantly reduced the drying time. US-FT pretreatments prompted more efficient drying and presented an overall enhancement in the quality of RDFS, particularly at low temperatures of 25 and 50 ℃, while enhancements in TFC, FRAP, and CUPRAC were associated with RT-FT. High-power (500 W) MW-FT pretreatments improved colour and structural properties, while low-power (100, 300 W) improved TPC, TFC, ascorbic acid, betalains, and antioxidant activity. Overall, cellular and chemical alterations prompted by pretreatments improved the drying process but presented adverse effects on betaxanthin. The study presented the fundamental background for improving the IRD of foods from the use of improved thawing approaches during freeze-thaw pretreatments.
... Dragon fruit or pitaya (Hylocereus) known to be rich in nutrients, containing bioactive compounds of polyphenols, flavonoids, and vitamin C which are beneficial for health related to its antioxidant activity (Song et al. 2016), besides that, it also contains beta-carotene, anthocyanin, and soluble fiber in the form of pectin (Aji et al. 2012). Extracts of every part of the pitaya plant have biological activity against pathogenic microbes including bacteria, yeasts and molds, and are also useful in controlling degenerative diseases and cancer (Luu et al. 2021). Among the species of dragon fruit, Hylocereus undatus, white flesh with pink skin, contains the highest carbohydrates, total sugar, protein, crude fiber, and vitamin C (Ramli and Rahmat 2014;Ruzainah et al. 2009;Jerônimo et al. 2015). ...
... Growth of L. casei is greatly influenced by substrate and pH of the medium. The pH and nutrient of white dragon fruit containing considerably high vitamin C, 31.05 mg 100g -1 (Luu et al. 2021), and fatty acids (Jerônimo and Costa Orsine 2015) may also contribute to the growth of L. casei. Bandiera et al. (2013) reported that L. casei added to the yogurt fermentation remained viable in populations of more than 10 8 CFU/g during 21 days of storage, in which the pH ranged from 4.93-4.32. ...
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Kustyawati ME, Nurlita ME, Fadhallah EG, Rizal S. 2022. Prebiotic activity of Lactobacillus casei grown on medium containing of Hylocereus undatus extract and its use in the fermentation of goat’s milk kefir. Biodiversitas 23: 6513-6519. White dragon fruit extract used as a prebiotic source is thought to be an innovative exploration to enhance its application as a synbiotics in food products. This study aims to quantify the prebiotic index and prebiotic activity score for Lactobacillus casei grown on white dragon fruit extract containing media at different concentrations. The study was carried out using a completely randomized design (CRD) experimental method with one factor, concentration of white dragon fruit extract (P1-P5) with 5 levels (2, 4, 6, 8, and 10% respectively), and was repeated 3 times. The data were analyzed statistically by ANOVA, if the treatments were significantly different then the LSD test (5%). The result showed that all tested media had a beneficial effect on the growth of L. casei (prebiotic index higher than 1), while they did not support the growth of enteric Escherichia coli (prebiotic index less than 1 or negative). The highest score of prebiotic activity for L. casei was grown on 10%, while the lowest was 2%. The addition of 10% prebiotic extract of white dragon fruit in goat's milk fermentation produced goat's milk kefir with characteristics that met Codex Stand 243-2003 and had a DPPH radical scavenging activity of 55.13%.
... Red dragon fruit (Hylocereus polyrhizus), which is also known as pitaya or pitahaya is a tropical fruit from the Cactaceae family which is well known for its distinct red-scaly look peels (Li et al., 2022). While it is originally from South and Central America, nowadays, red dragon fruit is cultivated all around the tropical part of the world (Luu et al., 2021;Saenjum et al., 2021). ...
... Research and experiments into red dragon fruit peels utilization found red dragon fruit peels contain a large multitude of phytochemicals such as betacyanin, phenols, flavonoids, triterpenoids, steroids, tocopherols, vitamins, and carotenoid (Joshi and Prabhakar, 2020;Khuzaimah and Millati, 2022;Hendra et al., 2019;Kaul et al., 2020;Liana et al., 2019;Luu et al., 2021). These large received suspension base intervention. ...
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Red dragon fruit (Hylocereus polyrhizus) is a tropical fruit that is currently cultivated in all tropical parts of the world. It is popular to consume its fruit flesh, while the peel is often thrown away. This red dragon fruit peel (RDFPE) is known to possess lots of phytochemical compounds with multitudes of usage, amongst them as an analgesic and antipyretic. Therefore, the active compounds of RDFPE play an important role in the natural product. This study aims to observe and analyze the analgetic and antipyretic activity possessed by red dragon fruit peel. This study is an in-vivo experiment on 25 white male rats divided into five groups, in which each group receive Na CMC, acetaminophen, and the other three groups will receive three different doses of RDFPE (500 mg/kg, 750 mg/kg, and 1000 mg/kg), respectively. Acetic acid writhing and tail immersion methods were performed to induce inflammation and Brewer’s yeast injection performed induced pyrexia. In the investigation of the acetic acid writhing test, the intervention was administered before induction, and for the tail immersion test, induction was given before and after the intervention was administered. Meanwhile, in brewer’s yeast-induced pyrexia, the rectal temperature was measured before induction, 24 hours after induction, and each hour for five four after the intervention; intervention was administered 24 hours after induction. This study found that RDFPE at the dose of 750 mg/kg and 1000 mg/kg are effective as an analgesic by reducing the average writhing and delaying the tail retraction of the experiment subject and also effective as an antipyretic by reducing the elevated temperature of the experiment subject (p<0.05). This study concludes that RDFPE possesses analgesic and antipyretic activity, especially at the higher dose. Phytochemical compounds such as alkaloids and flavonoids are most likely responsible for this analgesic and antipyretic activity by inhibiting inflammation activity.
... The addition of fruit skin to coconut water fermentation media acts as a carbon source that can optimize coconut water fermentation using lactic acid bacteria (Sakul et al., 2020) . This is supported by Le et al. (2021) which states that dragon fruit peel contains inulin and FOS (fructooligosaccharide) compounds which contain carbohydrates, protein and dietary fiber which act as carbon sources for microorganisms. Meanwhile, dragon fruit skin also contains anthocyanin compounds, tannins and vitamin C. The content of tannin compounds in coconut water and dragon fruit peel can be hydrolyzed by lactic acid bacteria to form glucose and gallic acid (Ananda et al., 2019) . ...
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Coconut water is part of the coconut fruit, that has bioactive compounds that are thought to own high inhibitor activity to the presence of tannin compounds. However, this compound is antinutritional because it can interfere with macromolecule out there within the body. Considering chance of tannins, these parts are often reduced by fermentation techniques using lactic acid bacteria. This analysis aims to review the addition of dragon fruit and lemon peels in fermentation coconut water using lactic acid bacteria in order to reduce tannin levels and its potential capability as antioxidants. Coconut water fermented drink was prepared by fermentation technique using lactic acid bacteria with the addition of variations in mass of dragon fruit peel and lemon peel consisting of 5 treatments. The optimum conditions for fermentation of coconut water were determined from the decrease in tannin levels, total acid, and the highest total lactic acid bacteria. The optimum conditions for fermentation of coconut water were then tested using an HPLC instrument. Finally, the antioxidantactivity was tested using the FRAP (Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Power) method. The results showed that the addition of dragon fruit and lemon peels in fermented coconut water can reduce tannin levels, can increase total acid levels and the number of lactic acid bacteria formed in coconut water fermented drinks. The best proportion was obtained in the treatment of rasio of mass 1:2 resulted in the highest decrease in tannin content of 83.94 mg/100 g followed by a total acid value of 1.13% and the number of lactic acid bacteria was 8.4 × 107 CFU/mL. The HPLC chromatogram showed that fermented coconut water using lactic acid bacteria contained organic acid compounds such as lactic acid, acetic acid, and ascorbic acid. The highest antioxidant activity test was 82.37 mmgAAE/g. This study confirmed that the addition of dragon fruit and lemon peels affected the degradation of tannins and increased antioxidant activity during coconut water fermentation using lactic acid bacteria.
... Pitaya (Hylocereus spp.; Family Cactaceae), also known as pitahaya or dragon fruit, is a climbing cactus which exotic fruit has gained increasing interest due to its beauty, nutritional value and abundance of bioactive compounds [1][2][3]. Native from Mesoamerica rainforests, most species of this genus of cacti have long triangular succulent cladodes (stems) that are the photosynthetic organs but also the fruitful shoots since the flowers arise from compound buds formed on the edges of 1-year-old cladodes [4]. These flowers are very large (>20 cm) and open at night, being pollinated by hawk moths and bats [5,6]. ...
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The main objective of this work was to determine the optimum level of pruning in pitaya. In addition, we want to establish the relationship between pruning levels and the intensity of flowering, and between flowering levels and heavy flower bud drop that affects this species. With these aims, two experiments were performed on Hylocereus undatus [(Haw.) Britton and Rose] cultivated in greenhouses and trained in a trellis system. Our results conclude that cane pruning leaving 15 cladodes per meter in a trellis system is the most productive, as it yielded more fruit of similar weight. Positive relationships between flowering and setting, regardless of pruning levels, justify less severe pruning. Fruit set and size did not depend on pruning levels, although we found a fruit weight reduction when a single cladode developed more than one fruit. Flower buds drop was proportionally higher in cladodes forming more flowers, suggesting that bud competition plays a role in their drop. However, flower bud thinning seems unnecessary, although if a flower is to be chosen, it is better to select those formed at the apex of the cladode since they produce larger fruits.
... Dragon fruit has been comprehensively researched for its antioxidant potential, especially polyphenols and betacyanin. These phytochemicals have the ability to prevent colon cancer and reduce cholesterol levels and high blood pressure (Luu et al., 2021). It has the potential to be used as a substitute for nutrients and functional ingredients in food processing (Maigoda et al., 2016). ...
Article
The pearl millet based functional pasta was formulated by incorporating freeze dried dragon fruit pulp powder and 2% (w/w) microcapsule containing dragon fruit peel extract. The control pasta consisted of 100% pearl millet flour. The other four functional pasta samples consisted of pearl millet and freeze-dried dragon fruit pulp powder (DFP) in the ratio of 95:5, 90:10, 85:15, and 80:20 (w/w), respectively. The inclusion of dragon fruit powder enhanced the swelling index, water absorption index, color, and functional properties of the pasta. The total phenolic content (0.24–0.43 mg GAE/100 g d.w.), antioxidant activity (17.76–30.67%), and betacyanin content (0.149–0.152 mg/g d.w.) of the pasta was increased with the increase of dragon fruit pulp level in the formulation. The release kinetics of phenolic compounds into the simulated gastric juice was modeled using Higuchi and Peppas- Sahlin models. Out of these two models Peppas- Sahlin model (R2>0.980 and RMSE<1.527) found to predict the release of phenolics into simulated gastric juice with respect to time of release when compared with Higuchi model (R2>0.964 and RMSE<6.126). The onset of transition temperature and enthalpy of gelatinization of pasta samples was found to be in the range of 66.321–74.681 °C and increased with the increase of dragon fruit level in the formulation.
... Fresh dragon fruit is commonly used as an ingredient in food and drink. Dragon fruit showed beneficial biological activities against pathogenic microbes and diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and cancer [11]. It not only enhances health by biological effects, but is also a low-calorie food (about 50-60 kcal/100 g) high in fiber content that contains various vitamins and minerals as well as phytonutrients named betalains [12]. ...
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Dragon fruit has many potential health benefits. It is inexpensive and widely cultivated in Thailand. The addition of dragon fruit to pineapple vinegar may help enhance the total phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity. This study aimed to study and compare the chemical characteristics of vinegar produced via one-step fermentation of a mixture of pineapple and dragon fruit juice from Krok Phra District of Thailand using Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. burgundy with that obtained using sequential fermentation using Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. burgundy and Acetobacter aceti. When the two fermentation methods were compared on day 20, the maximum acetic acid concentration obtained from sequential fermentation was 5.79 ± 0.25%, which was higher than that obtained in one-step fermentation (1.93%). The total phenolic compound content in the mixed fruit vinegar obtained from sequential fermentation and one-step fermentation was 228.01 and 242.2 mg/L gallic acid equivalents, respectively. The antioxidant content of the products obtained in sequential and one-step fermentations was 187.91 mg/L GAE and 209.33 µg/g of Trolox equivalents, respectively, which was consistent with the total phenolic compound content. This indicated that the acetic acid content in the mixed pineapple and dragon fruit juice vinegar obtained using sequential fermentation was higher than that obtained using one-step fermentation although its total phenolic content and the antioxidant activities were slightly lower. These observations will be useful for improving vinegar fermentation in the area.
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Dragon fruit (Hylocereus genus) has the potential for the prevention of diseases associated with inflammatory and oxidative processes. We aimed to comprehensively review dragon fruit health effects, economic importance, and possible use in delivery systems. Pubmed, Embase, and Google Scholar were searched, and PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis) guidelines were followed. Studies have shown that pitaya can exert several benefits in conditions such as diabetes, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer due to the presence of bioactive compounds that may include vitamins, potassium, betacyanin, p-coumaric acid, vanillic acid, and gallic acid. Moreover, pitaya has the potential to be used in food and nutraceutical products as functional ingredients, natural colorants, ecologically correct and active packaging, edible films, preparation of photoprotective products, and additives. Besides the importance of dragon fruit as a source of bioactive compounds, the bioavailability is low. The development of delivery systems such as gold nanoparticles with these compounds can be an alternative to reach target tissues.
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The pitaya peel powder was mixed with 50% ethanol solution at a ratio of 1:10 (w/v) for 24 hours to obtain the pitaya peel ethanol extract (E). The extract was further fractionated with supercritical carbon dioxide (SC–CO2) under the operating conditions: temperature 40 °C and pressure of 30, 25, 20 or 10 MPa into R, F1, F2 or F3 fractions, respectively. Our results confirmed SC-CO2 fractionation significantly influenced the distribution of phenolic compounds, polysaccharides and betalains in fractions and thus affected their physico-chemical properties. Bioactive compounds majorly distributed in F1; consequently, DPPH and ABTS radicals scavenging activities of F1 are higher than those of other fractions. The IC50 values of DPPH and ABTS scavenging ability were 0.78 mg/mL and 0.69 mg/mL for F1 fraction, respectively. Linear structure model analysis showed that the scavenging activities of the both free radicals were positively related to phenolic compounds and polysaccharide components. The strong red-orange color spectrum of E was simultaneously fractionated into the red-orange color F1, the bright red color of F2 and F3 and the vivid orange color of R.
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Traditional medicinal plants have been cultivated to treat various human illnesses and avert numerous infectious diseases. They display an extensive range of beneficial pharmacological and health effects for humans. These plants generally synthesize a diverse range of bioactive compounds which have been established to be potent antimicrobial agents against a wide range of pathogenic organisms. Various research studies have demonstrated the antimicrobial activity of traditional plants scientifically or experimentally measured with reports on pathogenic microorganisms resistant to antimicrobials. The antimicrobial activity of medicinal plants or their bioactive compounds arising from several functional activities may be capable of inhibiting virulence factors as well as targeting microbial cells. Some bioactive compounds derived from traditional plants manifest the ability to reverse antibiotic resistance and improve synergetic action with current antibiotic agents. Therefore, the advancement of bioactive-based pharmacological agents can be an auspicious method for treating antibiotic-resistant infections. This review considers the functional and molecular roles of medicinal plants and their bioactive compounds, focusing typically on their antimicrobial activities against clinically important pathogens.
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This study investigated the antiviral activity of betacyanins from red pitahaya (Hylocereus polyrhizus) and red spinach (Amaranthus dubius) against dengue virus type 2 (DENV-2). The pulp of red pitahaya and the leaves of red spinach were extracted using methanol followed by sub-fractionation and Amberlite XAD16N column chromatography to obtain betacyanin fractions. The half maximum cytotoxicity concentration for betacyanin fractions from red pitahaya and red spinach on Vero cells were 4.346 and 2.287 mg ml−1, respectively. The half-maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) of betacyanin fraction from red pitahaya was 125.8 μg ml−1 with selectivity index (SI) of 5.8. For betacyanin fraction from red spinach, the IC50 value was 14.62 μg ml−1 with SI of 28.51. Using the maximum non-toxic betacyanin concentration, direct virucidal effect against DENV-2 was obtained from betacyanin fraction from red pitahaya (IC50 of 126.70 μg ml−1; 95.0% virus inhibition) and red spinach (IC50 value of 106.80 μg ml−1; 65.9% of virus inhibition). Betacyanin fractions from red pitahaya and red spinach inhibited DENV-2 in vitro.
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