Nutrition

What are the proven benefits of dragon fruit?

Dragon fruit is the fruit of a variety of cactus species. It has a unique appearance, sweet taste, and crunchy texture. The dragon fruit contains multiple antioxidants that are beneficial for good health. Dragon fruit also contains many vitamins and minerals that are important for a healthy body.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), dragon fruit has the following nutritional value in a serving of 100 grams (g), which is roughly the size of one dragon fruit:

  • Calories: 264
  • Protein: 3.57 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 82.14 g
  • Dietary fiber: 1.8 g
  • Sugars (total): 82.14 g
  • Calcium: 107 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron: 0 g
  • Sodium: 39 mg
  • Vitamin C: 6.4 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This article will examine the health benefits of dragon fruit as well as how to incorporate it into the diet.

Rich in antioxidants


Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants.

According to a study in the African Journal of Biotechnology, dragon fruit contains the antioxidants betacyanins and betaxanthins.

These compounds neutralize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are compounds in the body that can cause cell damage.

The actions of betacyanins and betaxanthins can prevent free radicals from causing further damage.

According to a paper in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the antioxidant activity of dragon fruit can be helpful in preventing inflammatory conditions in the body. These include gout and other forms of arthritis.


Enhanced glycemic control

A meta-analysis that appeared in the journal PLOS ONE looks at the effects of consuming dragon fruit on blood glucose control in those with prediabetes and those with type 2 diabetes.

According to the paper, previous animal studies had shown a potential link between dragon fruit consumption and better control of diabetes. This is because dragon fruit encourages the growth of pancreatic cells that produce insulin.

The analysis examined multiple clinical trials comparing the effects of dragon fruit with a placebo in people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes. Its authors conclude that the dragon fruit’s effect on fasting plasma glucose in people with prediabetes was significant. They also found that the more dragon fruit a person eats, the greater the blood sugar benefits can be.

However, the study did not find a correlation between eating dragon fruit and improved control of type 2 diabetes.

The researchers recommend conducting more studies regarding prediabetes and dragon fruit consumption to determine whether eating dragon fruit can help stabilize blood sugar levels.


Rich in vitamins and minerals

According to research that appeared in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the nutrients present in dragon fruit include:

The fruit also contains smaller amounts of calcium and copper, which the body also requires for good health.

Combined with a delicious flavor, the dragon fruit can provide a nutritionally valuable food source.


Prebiotic properties

Eating dragon fruit has a prebiotic effect on the body that enhances digestion and nourishes gut bacteria, according to a study in the Electronic Journal of Biotechnology.

Dragon fruit contains carbohydrates called oligosaccharides, which researchers believe help stimulate the growth of healthful bacteria in the stomach and intestines.

Doctors also call these bacteria probiotics because they support many aspects of human health.

Benefits of prebiotics such as those present in dragon fruit include enhanced digestion, enhanced immune system function, and a lower risk of intestinal infections.

Contains healthful fatty acids

The small seeds of the dragon fruit add significant nutritional value.

According to research in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, these seeds contain fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids as well as natural oils.

Doctors consider all of these components beneficial for a person’s heart health.


How to add to the diet

Dragon fruit smoothie
A person can blend dragon fruit into a smoothie.

A person can slice and eat dragon fruit with minimal preparation.

To eat, use the following steps:

  • Test to see whether the dragon fruit is ripe by pressing on its outer peel. If the peel gives slightly, it is likely to be ripe.
  • Cut the dragon fruit in half lengthwise. If desired, cut the fruit once more into four parts. This can make removing the peel easier.
  • Remove the outer peel and discard any remaining pink portions of the fruit. These are edible but tend to taste very bitter.
  • Eat the flesh of the dragon fruit, including the small black seeds. These contain fiber that can add to the health benefits of eating dragon fruit.

Some people squeeze lime juice over the fruit to enhance its flavor. A person can also chill, grill, or blend dragon fruit into various dishes to make a nutritious and flavorful food option.

While most people do not usually eat the skin due to its bitter flavor, some people will pickle the skin and eat it alone or incorporate it into a salad. This adds the benefit of additional flavonoids, which are antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Summary

Dragon fruit is a nutritious and flavorful exotic fruit that can enhance a person’s overall health.

From improved glycemic control to enhanced antioxidant activity, eating this fruit can have many health benefits.

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