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 the health conscious and the foodies. Luckily you don’t have to live in the tropics to enjoy the dragon fruit’s many benefits. You will literally find it fresh or frozen at worldwide supermarkets. Here are 7 substantial health benefits of dragon fruit.
1. Dragon Fruit is High in Nutrients
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).
Dragon fruit is low in calories but rich in vitamins, minerals and beneficial compounds of plants such as polyphenols, carotenoids, and betacyanines.
2. It is Loaded With Fiber
Non-digestible carbohydrates are dietary fibers that offer an extensive list of health benefits. Health authorities recommend women 25 grams of fiber per day, and men 38 grams. Like antioxidants, dietary fiber supplements do not have the same health benefits as food fiber (4, 5).
Dragon fruit is an outstanding whole-food source with 7 grams per single-cup serving (6).
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 healthy body weight (7, 8).
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 accustomed to a low-fibre diet.
To prevent an upset stomach, slowly increasing your dietary fiber intake and drink plenty of fluids.
Dragon fruit contains 7 grams of fiber per serving, making it an excellent option to fulfill your daily fiber requirements.
3. May Help Fight 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 through 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 vitamin C, betalains, and carotenoids antioxidants types (12).
Observational studies found correlations between ingestion of vitamin C and 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 can suppress cancer cells (14).
Importantly, antioxidants work best in food when eaten naturally, rather than in the form of a pill or as a supplement. Antioxidant supplements may have harmful effects, and we do not recommend it to take them without medical supervision (17, 18).
Dragon fruit contains vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, and betalain antioxidants. Studies have related high-antioxidant diets to a lower risk of chronic disease.
4. Can Promote a Healthy Gut
Your gut is home to some 100 trillion different microorganisms including over 400 bacterial species (19).
Many researchers believe this microorganism culture may affect your health. Studies of both humans and animals have associated imbalances in your gut to conditions such as asthma and heart disease (20).
Since dragon fruit contains prebiotics, it might boost your gut’s balance of healthy bacteria (21).
Prebiotics are a particular form of fiber that encourages healthy bacteria to grow in your gut. Your gut can’t break them down like any fibre, but your gut’s bacteria will digest them. They are using the fiber as a fuel for growth and you are reaping the benefits.
Regular consumption of prebiotics can prevent infection in your digestive tract and diarrhea. This is because prebiotic promote good bacterial growth, which researchers believe may out-compete the bad (22, 23).
A study in travelers, for example, showed that those who consumed prebiotic before and during travel experienced fewer and fewer episodes of traveler diarrhea (24).
Although much of the prebiotics work is positive, they limit work on dragon fruit prebiotic activity to test-tube studies. We need further research to assess its true impact on the human gut.
Dragon fruit can promote the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria, which is associated with a healthy gastrointestinal tract.
5. May Boost Low Iron Levels
Unfortunately, there’s not enough iron that many people use. It has been estimated that 30 percent of the world’s population is iron deficient, making it the world’s most common nutrient deficiency (28).
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 percent of your recommended daily intake (RDI).
It also contains vitamin C, which helps to absorb iron in your body (29).
Dragon fruit provides iron along with vitamin C, a combination which can increase the absorption of this essential mineral by your body.
6. Boosts Your 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 (30, 31).
Vitamin C and carotenoids will neutralize free radicals as potent antioxidants and protect the white blood cells from damage.
Prime supply of vitamin C and carotenoids from dragon fruit can give immune-boosting properties.
7. Excellent Source of Magnesium
Dragon fruit provides more magnesium than other fruits, with just one cup 18 percent of your RDI. On average, your body contains 24g, or about one ounce, of magnesium (34).
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 (35).
It takes part, for example, in the reactions required to break down food into energy, muscle contraction, bone formation and even DNA production (36).
More studies are required, but some show that higher magnesium intakes can decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke (37).
Dragon fruit is a significant source of magnesium, a nutrient needed in your body for over 600 biochemical reactions.
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
While the thick, leathery skin of dragon fruit may intimidate. However, eating this fruit is fairly simple. The trick is to find one that matures perfectly.
It will be green to an unripe dragon fruit. Search for one which is bright red. Some spots are fine, but it may mean that too many bruises-like splotches are overripe.
A mature dragon fruit, like the avocado and kiwi, should tender but not mushy. Here’s how to eat a fresh dragon fruit:
Cut it in half lengthwise, using a sharp knife. With a knife, scoop out the fruit or cut it into pieces, cutting vertical and horizontal lines into the pulp without cutting it into the peel.
Squeeze the cubes on the back of the skin and remove them with a spoon or your fingers. Add it to the salads, smoothies and yogurt to enjoy, or even snack on it by yourself.
You will also find dragon fruit, pre-peeled and cut into cubes, in the frozen section of some grocery stores. This is a convenient option to packing a nutrient-dense punch for a tasty snack.
Dragon fruit is shockingly simple to prepare and can be eaten alone or added to salads, smoothies and yogurt.
The Bottom Line
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 tasty choice with many health benefits if you are searching for a way to add some variety to your fruit intake.
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