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Abstract, African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 2017

Studies on the cacti of the genera, Hylocereus Tropical and Subtropical America are scarce. Cultivation and consumption of different species and varieties of pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) may represent a source of diversified agricultural activity since these species contain rich bioactive compounds that add a rustic beauty to the cultivation of the fruit in addition to the benefits they bring to the health of the population. The functional attributes assigned to this fruit, prompt the need to study its physical, chemical, nutritional, pharmacological and toxicological characteristics. The objective of this study was to review the literature on the pitaya, investigating the relationship between post-harvest production, technological and pharmaceutical applications, in addition to nutritional properties, and the chemical components that are beneficial and toxic to health. Hence, a literature search at the PubMed and SciELO Medicine® sites, with descriptors "Hylocereus" and "pitaya" was held. Recent studies on the bioactive compounds in pulp and peel, antioxidant activity and the relationship between use and health were mainly selected, based on in vivo studies. Based on the articles studied, observation showed that the intake of bioactive compounds present in pitaya boosts immunity in individuals, thus inducing better health and improving physical and mental performance. However, additional research is necessary to obtain consistent and reliable data to explore unrestricted use by the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.

Key words: Cactaceous, pitaya, Hylocereus undatus