Dragon fruit is a type of tropical fruit that has become quite popular in the recent past. People are drawn to this fruit because of its unique taste and appearance, along with a whole host of health benefits. Here, we will talk about health benefits of dragon fruit, nutritional value and side effects.
This fruit looks nothing less than an egg-shaped flame-red body with a green skin similar to reptile scales. The fruit has gained a significant amount of attention from all around the world, especially among people who are health-conscious. It is readily available in frozen and fresh forms in supermarkets worldwide.
Nutritional value of dragon fruit
Dragon fruit is known to contain small quantities of many nutrients, including iron and vitamin C. In a serving of 227 grams, the nutritional content includes:
- Vitamin E: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
- Iron: 8% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 18% of the RDI
- Fibre: 7 grams
- Carbs: 29 grams
- Fat: 0 gram
- Protein: 3 grams
- Calories: 136
As it is known to be low in calories and filled with several essential minerals and vitamins, it is known to be a healthy fruit. It also contains a substantial amount of dietary fiber. Other than the essential nutrients, dragon fruit is also known to have beneficial plant compounds like betacyanins, polyphenols, and carotenoids.
Health benefits of dragon fruit
As dragon fruit is known to have so many nutrients, it can be extremely beneficial to the health of an individual. Here are some of the facts that will convince you to add dragon fruit to your regular diet.
1. It helps against chronic disease
Cell damage is caused by unstable molecules and free radicals, which eventually lead to disease and inflammation. In order to combat this problem, it is important that people consume foods with high antioxidants, such as dragon fruit.
Antioxidants are great at neutralizing the free radicals in the body in order to prevent inflammation and cell damage. Studies have shown that diets containing high antioxidant levels will be very effective in preventing chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Dragon fruits also contain several other nutrients other than antioxidants.
Studies have shown correlations between reduced cancer risk and vitamin C intake, which is also a nutrient found in dragon fruit. Test-tube studies were able to indicate that betalains, present in dragon fruit, can help in combating oxidative stress, resulting in suppressed cancer cells.
The vibrant color of dragon fruits come from lycopene and beta-carotene, which have been linked with the reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Antioxidants are known to be the best when they are consumed naturally, instead of supplements or pills. In truth, antioxidant supplements are known for causing harmful effects. This is the reason it shouldn’t be consumed without medical supervision.
2. It is high in fiber
Non-digestible carbohydrates or dietary fibers are known for their health benefits. Dragon fruit is known to be a great whole-food source. Fiber is known for its role in digestion.
But, many research studies were able to show that fiber could be great for managing type 2 diabetes, reducing the risk of heart disease, and keeping a healthy body weight.
Though more research needs to be conducted, fiber-rich diets are known to protect people against colon cancer. Studies haven’t directly linked dragon fruit to these benefits, but it is definitely a high-fiber food that needs to be in your diet.
It is important for people to remember that consuming high-fiber diets can have drawbacks as well. If a person is used to consuming a low-fiber diet, he/she has a higher chance of experiencing stomach discomfort. This is the reason people recommend a gradual increase in the fiber content along with a lot of fluids.
3. It helps in keeping a healthy gut
Our gut contains more than 100 trillion microorganisms, including at least 400 species of bacteria. Many researchers say that these microorganisms could impact the health negatively, especially among people suffering from conditions like heart disease and asthma. This is one of the best health benefits of dragon fruit.
As dragon fruit is known to contain prebiotics, it can significantly help in increasing the good bacteria in the gut. Consuming dragon fruit can also help in reducing the risk of acquiring the infection in the digestive tract. In the case of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease; prebiotics in dragon fruit can be very beneficial.
4. It Is Good For the Immune System
There are different factors at play when it comes to the body’s ability to get rid of an infection. Carotenoids and vitamin C are known to be great when it comes to boosting the immune system of the body.
The body’s white blood cells are known to destroy the harmful elements in the body to prevent infection. In the case of free radicals, they can be extremely sensitive to damage.
As different nutrients in the dragon fruit help in neutralizing the free radicals, it overall boosts the body’s immune system. This is one of the effective health benefits of dragon fruit.
5. Dragon fruit helps boost iron levels
Dragon fruit is one among a few that is rich in iron. Iron helps in the transportation of oxygen all over the body. It helps in breaking the food down into energy.
However, many individuals do not get the sufficient quantity of iron. Having dragon fruit can help in combating low iron levels. In addition, vitamin C in dragon fruit is also good for helping in the absorption of iron.
6. It has magnesium
The magnesium content in dragon fruit may not be a lot, but this mineral is quite important as it is involved in more than 600 chemical reactions in the body. It is very important as it is also linked to bone health.
How to eat dragon fruit
The fruit may look quite intimidating but can be eaten very easily. There are many variations in which people choose to eat dragon fruit. Some may also prefer adding it to smoothies or health drinks. Some of the common ways people choose to eat dragon fruit are:
- Simply cut it and eat it raw.
- Chop it up into small pieces and add some Greek yoghurt to it with a few chopped nuts.
- Add it in a fruit salad along with several other fruits.
What does a dragon fruit taste like?
The flavor of this fruit can be considered as mildly sweet; however, some consider it bland as well. Most people consider its taste to be a fusion of pear and kiwifruit. Dragon fruit also has a crunchy texture with several tiny, black edible seeds.
Where does dragon fruit grow?
The fruit also referred to as pitaya is absolutely exotic because of being borne on a cactus called Honolulu Queen. Though the plant can be grown in different parts of the world, it is native to Central America and southern Mexico.
This fruit is also heavily exported to many Southeast Asian nations, like Vietnam and Thailand. The plant grows best in arid climates with moisture.
How to cut dragon fruit
If you are having dragon fruit for the first time, you will need some help with chopping it. It is not as difficult as it seems. At first, you will require a ripe dragon fruit.
Check for the ones that are evenly colored and has a nice, bright red hue. If it gives away a little when you squeeze it, it is the right one. Now, take a knife and cut the fruit right through the middle, producing two halves.
With the help of a spoon, you can take out the white pulp with black seeds from the skin. You can directly eat it or chop it into small pieces to form cubes.
Side effects of dragon fruit
Overall, dragon fruits are quite safe for consumption. There are certain side effects that may be encountered by individuals. When compared with the health benefits, certain side effects that may be seen are mentioned below.
- In some rare instances, people have the chance of developing an allergic reaction. There were two cases of women with no food allergy history had acquired anaphylactic reactions after the consumption of a fruit mixture containing dragon fruit. Only these cases have been registered, but many people in the world might be allergic to it and haven’t discovered it yet. It is also very important for people to clean the fruit and eat it in a hygienic manner.
- It is estimated that if dragon fruit is consumed in excess, it could result in diarrhea. This is the reason it is better to consume dragon fruit is lesser quantities.
- If dragon fruit is consumed in excess, pregnant women can be adversely affected.
- As mentioned earlier, it is said that dragon fruit has the tendency to cause skin diseases.
- Some people have also reported that dragon fruit could make their faeces as well as urine red is color.
- Dragon fruit is known to be dangerous for people who are diabetic. It is because dragon fruit contains a sweet flavor.
Also Check: Best ayurvedic medicnes to cure diabetes
Dragon fruit is a delicious fruit and is definitely something you should consider adding to your diet. Not only does it taste amazing, but its color pops out when you serve it. And not to forget that it is a low-calorie serving with probiotic fibers, essential nutrients, and useful plant compounds. Add this fruit in your diet to have all health benefits of dragon fruit.