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7 Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit is truly a delicious tropical fruit worth trying.

It tastes great, gives your plate a splash of color, and offers vital nutrients, prebiotic fibers, and beneficial plant compounds all in a low-calorie serving.

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit known for its vivid red skin, also known as pitahaya or strawberry pear.

Its distinctive look and renowned superfood powers have made it famous among health-conscious people.

Luckily, you don’t have to live in the tropics to get the health benefits of dragon fruit.

You can literally find it fresh or frozen at supermarkets worldwide.

1. High in Nutrients

Dragon fruits are low in calories, but packed with essential minerals and vitamins.

It also contains an enormous amount of dietary fiber.

A one-cup serving contains 227 grams (1, 2):

  • Calories 136
  • Protein 3 grams
  • Fat 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates 29 grams
  • Fiber 7 grams
  • Iron 8% of the RDI
  • Magnesium 18% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C 9% of the RDI
  • Vitamin E 4% of the RDI

Dragon fruit supplies beneficial plant compounds such as polyphenols, carotenoids, and betacyanins, besides essential nutrients (3).

These are antioxidants that help prevent oxidation in the body.

2. Contains Fiber

Dragon fruit contains fiber, which is a non-digestible carbohydrate that offers an extensive list of health benefits.

Health authorities recommend women consume 25 grams of fiber per day, and men consume 38 grams (4, 5).

Like antioxidants, dietary fiber supplements do not have the same health benefits as food sources of fiber. Dragon fruit is an outstanding fiber source, with 7 grams per single-cup serving.

While fiber is probably best known for its function in digestion, research has shown that it may also play a role in protecting against heart disease, controlling type 2 diabetes, and maintaining a healthy body weight (4, 6, 7).

Some observational studies show high-fiber diets can protect against colon cancer (8, 9, 10).

Although no studies have connected dragon fruit to any of these conditions, its high fiber content will help you fulfill the daily recommended values.

However, it is important to remember that high-fiber diets may have drawbacks, particularly if you are akin to someone on a low-fiber diet.

To prevent an upset stomach, slowly increase your dietary fiber intake and drink plenty of fluids.

3. Fights Chronic Disease

Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause damage to cells, which can lead to inflammation and illness.

One way to combat this is by eating foods rich in antioxidants, such as dragon fruit. Antioxidants function by neutralizing free radicals, preventing inflammation and cell damage.

Studies suggest diets high in antioxidants can help prevent chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis (11).

The dragon fruit contains vitamin C, betalains, and carotenoids of the antioxidant type, which can provide several health advantages that lead to a lower risk of diseases (12).

Observational studies found correlations between the ingestion of vitamin C and the risk of cancer.

A study in 120,852 men, for example, linked increased intakes of vitamin C with lower risks of head and neck cancer (13).

Test-tube experiments show betalains can reduce oxidative stress and suppress cancer cells (14).

Beta-carotene and lycopene are the pigments of the plant that give dragon fruit its vibrant color.

In addition, some evidence suggests carotenoid-rich diets are associated with a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease (15, 16, 17).

Importantly, antioxidants work best in food when eaten naturally rather than as pills or supplements.

Antioxidant supplements may have harmful effects, and we do not recommend taking them without medical supervision.

4. Promotes a Healthy Gut

Your gut is a living place with 100 trillion different microorganisms, including over 400 bacterial species (18).

Many researchers believe this microorganism culture may affect your health.

In both human and animal studies, imbalances in microorganisms and bacterial species in the gut have been linked to illnesses such as asthma and heart disease (19).

Dragon fruit contains prebiotics, which might boost your gut’s healthy bacteria (20).

Prebiotic is a particular form of fiber present in dragon fruit that encourages healthy bacteria, such as lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria, to grow in your gut (21, 22, 23).

They cannot be broken down by your gut like other carbohydrates, but your gut bacteria will digest them.

These bacteria are using the fiber as a fuel for growth, and you are reaping the benefits. Regular consumption of prebiotics can prevent infections in your digestive tract and diarrhea (24).

This is because prebiotics promote good bacterial growth, which researchers believe may outcompete the bad.

A study on travelers, for example, showed that those who consumed prebiotics before and during travel experienced fewer and fewer episodes of traveler’s diarrhea (4).

Some studies also suggest that prebiotics can ease the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer (4, 25).

Those findings are unfortunately inconsistent. Although much of the prebiotic work is positive, they limit work on dragon fruit prebiotic activity only to test-tube studies. We need further human research to assess its true effects on the human gut.

5. Boosts Iron Levels

Dragon fruit is among the few fresh iron-containing fruits. Iron plays a crucial role in oxygen transport across your body (26).

This also plays a significant part in breaking food into energy. Sadly, people are not getting enough iron to meet their needs.

It has been estimated that 30% of the world’s population is iron deficient, making it the world’s most common nutrient deficiency, mostly in women (27).

It’s essential to eat a variety of iron-rich foods to counter low iron levels. Iron rich sources include meats, fish, legumes, nuts, and cereals.

Another brilliant choice could be dragon fruit, as one serving contains 8% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). It also contains vitamin C, which helps your body absorb iron (28).

6. Boosts Immune System

The capacity of your body to resist infection is determined by multiple factors, including the consistency of your diet.

In dragon fruit, vitamin C and carotenoids will improve your immune system and prevent infection by shielding your white blood cells from damage (29, 30).

In your immune system, the white blood cells strike and kill toxic substances.

They are highly susceptible to free radical harm.

Vitamin C and carotenoids will neutralize free radicals as potent antioxidants and protect the white blood cells from damage.

7. Provides Magnesium

Dragon fruit provides more magnesium than other fruits, with just one cup providing 18% of your RDI. On average, your body contains 24 g, or about one ounce, of magnesium (31).

Despite this relatively small volume, the mineral is present in each of your cells and takes part in over 600 important chemical reactions within your body (32).

It works, for example, in the reactions required to break down food into energy, muscle contraction, bone formation, and even DNA production (33).

More studies are required, but some show that higher magnesium intakes can decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke (34).

Further studies show that magnesium rich diets protects the bones (35, 36).

Suggested article: How to tell when a dragon fruit is ripe

Conclusion

Dragon fruit is a delicious tropical fruit you should try.

It tastes great and provides essential nutrients, prebiotic fibers, and beneficial plant compounds in a low-calorie serving.

If you are looking to add some variety to your diet, dragon fruit is a delicious option with many potential health benefits.

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