Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 15/02/2024

Dragon Fruit, also known as ‘Pitaya’, is a vibrant tropical fruit. Apart from its exotic appearance, the health benefits of dragon fruit are what makes it so popular.

Power-packed with essential vitamins and minerals, it is also a treasure chest of antioxidants and fibre. But this hydrating and delicious fruit has more than just that to offer.

What is Dragon Fruit?

Aptly named for resembling a fire-breathing dragon, Dragon fruit is a unique cactus fruit. It has an uncanny resemblance to a pear’s texture and a kiwi’s flavour profile.

Like most cacti fruits, it has fantastic hydrating properties. Moreover, its abundance of antioxidants makes it a perfect choice for reducing the risk of diabetes and cancer.

Types of Dragon Fruit

The colour of Dragon fruits varies depending on the region and the variety they belong to. The colours also help distinguish their taste and in some cases their texture.

Sour Dragon Fruit

A type of the Stenocereus variant, the sour dragon fruit is native to the arid regions of the American continent. Diligently harvested in the northwestern Mexican regions, this fruit stands out due to its distinct sour and spicy flavour profile.

Since it thrives in dry climates, it is a popular choice for its juiciness and a sought-after addition to culinary explorations.

White Dragon Fruit

A Hylocereus Undatus variant, the white dragon fruit is the most widely cultivated type among all its variants. Native to California, the white dragon fruit has pink skin and juicy white pulp. It is known for its sweetness and is popularly enjoyed chilled with or without Tahini, a middle eastern condiment.

Red Dragon Fruit

Also known as Pitaya Roja, the red dragon fruit is characterised by its sweet red pulp and red skin. The sweet pulp of the red dragon fruit is known to be vibrant enough to stain hands when eating or handling it. Enjoyed both in its raw form and blended into smoothies, it is the perfect sweet snack for breakfast.

Yellow Dragon Fruit

A Hylocereus Megalanthus variety, the yellow dragon fruit is characterised by its captivating yellow-scaled skin and white firm pulp. Native to South American regions, it is one of the tastiest among other variants and has a unique flavour profile.

Pink Dragon Fruit

A part of the red dragon fruit category, the pink dragon fruit is characterised by visually stunning pulp that ranges from soft to hot pink. Thanks to its adaptability to various soils and climatic conditions, it is one of the more popular varieties that are chosen for cultivation.

Nutritional Value of Dragon Fruit

As delicious as it is, dragon fruit has a wide range of nutrients, minerals, antioxidants and fibre content that benefit the body in many ways. Incorporating dragon fruit into a diet can prove to be beneficial to the body and even protect it from a wide range of health issues.

As on average, 1 dragon fruit weighs between 300 to 650 grams, here are the nutritional specifications for a 650-gram dragon fruit:

Nutritional Category Values
Weight  650 grams
Calories 374
Carbohydrates 81.5 grams
Protein  13 grams
Fat 0
Fibre 16.25 grams
Sugar 42.25 grams
Vitamin A 390 micrograms
Vitamin C 26 milligrams
Calcium 201.5 milligrams
Iron 0.325 milligrams
Magnesium  442 milligrams

Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit does not just have striking colours and flavours but also health benefits that cater to various aspects of the human body’s well-being. Here are some key dragon fruit benefits:

Blood Sugar Management

Thanks to their high antioxidant and fibre content, dragon fruits are great for individuals diagnosed with diabetes or who are struggling to maintain their blood sugar levels.

Fibre present in the fruit helps stabilise blood sugar levels and also prevents any sudden sugar spikes after meals or eating snacks. Including dragon fruit in the diet helps mitigate any health risks related to mismanaged blood sugar levels.

Cancer Prevention

Dragon fruit is primarily known to have abundant antioxidants that help prevent the initiation of cancer cells in the body. It is known to work well against colon cancer.

Dragon fruits also have beneficial amounts of vitamin C that not only strengthen the immune system but also act as potent antioxidants. It is known to guard against diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, and cancer.

Immune Support

With an abundance of vitamin C, dragon fruit is an excellent booster for the body’s immune system. A balanced consumption of dragon fruit daily can contribute to a robust immune system, protecting the body from various illnesses.

Digestive Health

Dragon fruit is rich in oligosaccharides, a type of carbohydrate that fosters the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This property and the presence of high fibre content in dragon fruit promotes smooth digestive function in the body. It is also known to be effective against colon cancer due to this ability.

Cardiovascular Health

With a high level of antioxidants and omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids, dragon fruits are a must-add to the diet for their heart health benefits. From reducing LDL cholesterol in the body to neutralising free radicals, they maintain the health of the heart cells as well as the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Adding dragon fruits to the diet will surely boost one’s heart health and prevent any heart-related diseases.

Anti-aging

Another benefit of the antioxidants present in dragon fruits is their potential to promote skin cell turnover. Vitamin C present in dragon fruits also helps treat sunburns, dry skin and acne naturally, while contributing to brighter and radiant skin. Incorporating dragon fruit into the diet could help fight signs of ageing caused by stress, pollution and a poor diet.

Hair Health

Vitamin C present in dragon fruit aids in the formation of collagen, which, in turn, strengthens hair follicles and promotes the growth of new hair. Regular consumption of dragon fruit is known to avoid breakage and split ends while also improving the texture of the hair. Moreover, even the application of dragon fruit powder mixed with milk is known to provide conditioning to the hair, leaving it soft and shiny.

Bone Health

With an abundance of magnesium content, dragon fruits are proven to be fantastic for maintaining bone health. Known to support bone health in postmenopausal individuals mainly, it is an excellent addition to the daily diet of older generations.

Eye Health

Dragon fruit is a rich source of Vitamins A and C along with carotene, which helps provide nutrition and protection to the cornea. It also helps fight off eye issues like macular degeneration and cataracts. It is advised to be a great source of beta-carotene for maintaining low-light and colour vision.

Pregnancy Health

Since dragon fruit contains rich amounts of vitamin B, folate and iron, it is an excellent fruit for pregnant individuals. The presence of monounsaturated fats also helps support the foetus's brain development.

Incorporating dragon fruit into the diets of pregnant individuals can also help support their immune systems. Individuals experiencing postmenopause are also known to benefit from the same.

Antioxidants in Dragon Fruit

Another one of dragon fruit benefits is the presence of antioxidants in it. Antioxidants benefit the human body while catering to its distinct needs for regulation and prevention of some health risks. The ones predominantly found in dragon fruit are as follows:

Betalains

Found in the vibrant red pigments of dragon fruits, betalains are antioxidants that offer a spectrum of health benefits. One of the critical functions of betalains is their role in protection against harmful cholesterol, specifically Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL).

LDL cholesterol, often termed ‘bad cholesterol’, is susceptible to oxidation, a process that can lead to the formation of plaque in the arteries, which further contributes to cardiovascular issues like atherosclerosis.

The formation of plaque in the arteries can cause them to narrow down or even get blocked. Batalains inhibit the oxidation of LDL and act as a protective barrier, which reduces the risk of any cardiovascular issues.

Furthermore, betalains also neutralise the free radicals. This prevents any damage to the cells that are lining the blood vessels, which in turn maintains the health of the blood vessels and promotes healthy circulation.

Hydroxycinnamates

Hydroxycinnamates are a group of antioxidants found in dragon fruit that are known for their anti-cancer properties. These antioxidants inhibit the growth of cancer cells by interfering with the proliferation of the cancer cells which helps prevent and reduce the progression of cancer.

Moreover, like betalains, they also help neutralise free radicals in the body, including the ones that may contribute to the development of cancer cells. This property helps maintain cellular health and reduces the risk of cancer initiation.

Hydroxycinnamates, with their cell protection abilities, are also known to support the repair of damaged DNA, which again is a critical factor that prevents the initiation of cancer cells. They are also known to have immunomodulatory effects. That is, they help strengthen the influence of the immune cells in the body.

Flavonoids

Flavonoids are another group of antioxidants present in dragon fruit that contribute to several healthy functions in the body. Linked to positive brain functions, flavonoids are known to enhance the cognitive performance of the brain cells and protect against age-related cognitive decline.

They support the brain’s cellular system, promoting better function and structure of the cells, which contributes to cognitive well-being and maintains mental acuity. Flavonoids are also known to exhibit neuroprotective properties as they shield the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation. This property of flavonoids helps preserve neural integrity and reduces the risks of neurodegenerative disorders.

Moreover, flavonoids are also known to play a significant role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties they promote blood vessel functioning and also reduce the risk of heart-related issues.

Dragon Fruit Recipes

With the abundance of various nutrients, incorporating dragon fruit into the diet is no less than a wise choice.

But if eating it just raw and cut up is too dull for you, here are some delicious healthy alternatives that help add dragon fruits to your diet and will leave you satisfied.

Dragon Fruit Juice Recipe

Dragon Fruit Juice Recipe
Ingredients Amount 
Dragon Fruit 1
Sugar 3 TBS
Lemon 1
Lemon Zest ½ TSP

Instructions

  1. Cut the Dragon fruit into two parts.

  2. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon.

  3. Cut the pulp into cubes.

  4. Add it to a blender.

  5. Add sugar or a simple syrup.

  6. Add the juice of 1 lemon and the lemon zest.

  7. Blend till smooth.

  8. Serve on ice or as is.

A Dragon Fruit Salsa Recipe

A Dragon Fruit Salsa Recipe
Ingredients Amount 
Dragon Fruit 2
Green Onion 1
Cilantro 5 stems
Lemon  1

Instructions

  1. Cut the Dragon fruit into two parts.

  2. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon.

  3. Cut the pulp into cubes.

  4. Add them to a large bowl.

  5. Cut the spring onions into thin slices.

  6. Add them to the Dragon fruit.

  7. Finely chop the cilantro.

  8. Add it to the bowl.

  9. Now, add the juice of a lemon to the bowl.

  10. Toss gently.

  11. If you want to, serve it with some chips, and enjoy!

A Thai Dragon Fruit Salad Recipe

A Thai Dragon Fruit Salad Recipe 
Ingredients Amount 
Dragon Fruit 1 cup
Lychee ½ cup
Honeydew 1 cup
Lemon Juice 2TBS
Honey 2TSP
Ground Ginger ½ TSP
Thai Basil Leaves 2
Crushed Dry Roasted Peanuts ⅛ cup

Instructions

  1. Cut the Dragon fruit into two parts.

  2. Scoop out the pulp with a spoon.

  3. Cut the pulp into cubes.

  4. Add them to a large bowl.

  5. Similarly, cut up Lychee and Honeydew (ensure both are peeled).

  6. Add all the fruit to a bowl.

  7. Mix up ginger, lemon juice and honey in a separate bowl.

  8. Once mixed well, add the basil leaves.

  9. Add the mixture to the fruits and toss gently.

  10. Make sure to serve cold, and enjoy!

Side Effects of Consuming Dragon Fruits

Although Dragon fruits are generally considered to be safe for consumption and offer a spectrum of health benefits as well, it is essential to be aware of any potential allergic reactions or side effects associated with overconsumption.

Overconsumption

Overconsumption of dragon fruit can lead to potential health risks. The following are problems that individuals may face upon overconsuming dragon fruits:

  1. Gastrointestinal issues due to overconsumption of fibre may manifest into symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhoea, and constipation.

  2. Increased levels of antioxidants may lead to cell damage.

  3. Impact on Glucophage and mismanaged blood sugar levels due to the excessive amounts of fibre and other nutrients.

  4. Elevated risks of gestational diabetes.

  5. Elevated risks of low blood pressure levels.

  6. Weight gain when consumed in large proportions and in place of other healthy foods

Allergic Reactions

Individuals allergic to dragon fruits could show the following symptoms that are typical of most food allergies.

Swelling of the tongue Shock or circulatory collapse
Appearance of hives Trouble swallowing or tight throat
Vomiting and stomach cramps upon eating A Weak pulse
Shortness of breath Dizziness or feeling faint
Wheezing Visible pale or blue skin colour
Repetitive cough Anaphylaxis Attack (only in severe cases)

Conclusion

In conclusion, apart from its striking appearance, dragon fruit is a power-packed source of essential nutrients that have a spectrum of health benefits. Incorporating it into the diet could help protect against various illnesses and ailments and improve heart health and cell turnover in the body.

While incorporating fruits and veggies in your diet can help you with general well-being, you may require more than just a healthy diet to prepare for medical uncertainties and health issues.

When an unexpected health emergency arrives, health insurance plans provide a shield for the expenditures required to tackle it. Investing in a health insurance plan safeguards against unexpected financial emergencies in the face of unforeseen incidents.

At Tata AIG, we provide medical insurance that is tailored to your needs and can be availed cashless at the hospital of your choice. Moreover, with our online services, you can conveniently compare health insurance online and choose one that matches your priorities. Invest in a health insurance plan and safeguard your future with us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are dragon fruits high in sugar

    Although dragon fruits are sweet, they are low-sugar fruits with about 7.65 grams of sugar in a 100-gram serving.

  • When can I eat dragon fruit

    It is okay to consume dragon fruit at any time of the day. However, consuming it in the morning is known to be more beneficial.

  • Why does eating dragon fruit make me sleepy

    Thanks to its high magnesium content, dragon fruits can act as natural sedatives and make one sleepy. It is advisable to eat it in healthy amounts.

  • Is the peel of the Dragon fruit edible

    Yes, the peel of the dragon fruit is edible. The peel is high in antioxidants and nutrients and can help with cholesterol issues.

Disclaimer: This is a general guide on the health benefits of dragon fruit. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. It is advisable to consult a qualified health professional for treatment in severe cases.

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