Pitaya (Stenocereus spp.): an under-utilized fruit


  • Beatriz Quiroz-González
  • Rosario García-Mateos
  • J. Joel E. Corrales-García
  • María Teresa Colinas-León


Stenocereus, cactus, antioxidants, exotic, agroindustrial uses


Pitaya (Stenocereus spp.) is an exotic fruit, which has been consumed since ancient times
by pre-Hispanic cultures. Recently in Mexico, this cactus has been the target of commercial
attention due to the pleasant taste of their succulent fruits with juicy and sweet pulp, and a
great variety of colors (white, yellow, purple and red fruits). This fruit has excellent sensory,
nutritional, nutraceutical, agroindustrial and medicinal attributes; however, it has been
under-utilized. The high content of betalains in this fruit allows us to consider these varieties
as a source of natural pigments to be used in the food industry. The aim of this study is to
show “the state of the art” of the properties of Stenocereus, to promote its study,
dissemination, production, consumption and agroindustrial use. The present study shows a
description of its botany, distribution, cultivation, physiology, pre and postharvest aspects,
nutritional and nutraceutical composition, as well as agroindustrial and medicinal uses. The
production of this fruit represents an opportunity for the economic development of some
arid and semi-arid zones of Mexico due to the agronomic, nutraceutical and agroindustrial
advantages. Therefore, more studies are required, mainly on physiological, nutraceutical,
medicinal and agroindustrial aspects, more specifically on the non-studied species of
Stenocereus, and future researches should deal with development of agro-technologies to
guarantee high yields and good quality products to enable growers to make a living from it.





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