The dragon fruit is a cactus that is native to northern South America. Although there are many different colors, there aren’t many nutritional differences between them. These dragon fruits are also known as pitaya and earn their name from their exterior, covered in overlapping “fins” resembling dragon scales.
Dragon fruit is high in fiber and antioxidants, which have been associated with a lower risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tract disorders.
Continue reading to learn more about the fruit’s advantages and easy, healthful ways to eat it.
Improves Gut Health
Dragon fruit benefits intestinal health in two ways. The fruit is abundant in fiber, which aids digestion and prevents constipation. One cup of yellow dragon fruit has 5.58 grams (g) of fiber, which accounts for 20% of the Daily Value (DV).
Dragon fruit also includes oligosaccharides, which aid in forming beneficial Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus gut bugs. These probiotic bacteria have been demonstrated to help prevent or treat digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Helps to Prevent Chronic Disease
Dragon fruit has been linked to preventing disorders connected with inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and metabolic syndrome are examples of these.
Betacyanins, which impart color to the flesh and skin of red dragon fruits, are antioxidants that help minimize oxidative stress or cell damage produced by free radicals. Free radicals are produced when your body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation. The accumulation of free radicals over time is mostly to blame for aging and health issues such as heart disease, cancer, and even arthritis.
Red and white-skinned dragon fruits are also high in antioxidants known as phenolic chemicals, which contribute to the plants’ flavor, color, and health benefits. According to a 2021 study, red dragon fruits have the highest content of total polyphenols and antioxidant activity compared to white and yellow types.
Regarding cancer, experts believe that the gut microbiota shift generated by prebiotic fermentation in dragon fruit may lessen the incidence of colon cancer. In addition, various antioxidants, such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and betacyanin, may protect against multiple malignancies.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
Although dragon fruits contain natural sugar, eating them may help control blood sugar levels. Red dragon fruit, in particular, is thought by researchers to have the ability to help regulate blood sugar levels. Because the plant’s natural components may aid in the regeneration of beta cells in the pancreas, which produce and secrete insulin and amylin, two hormones that regulate blood sugar levels. Dragon fruit also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, and inflammation is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes development.
Dragon fruit significantly reduced fasting blood sugar levels in persons with prediabetes. While this was not observed in people with type 2 diabetes, eating more dragon fruit reduced blood sugar levels significantly.
Promotes Healthy Blood Flow
Eating dragon fruit could assist in increasing general circulation or blood flow. One short study of 18 participants who were young, healthy, and did not smoke looked at the effects of ingesting 24 g of whole dragon fruit powder daily or a placebo with identical nutritional advantages.
Blood flow, arterial stiffness, and blood pressure were assessed one, two, three, and four hours after ingestion and after 14 days. The researchers discovered that dragon fruit eaters had significantly higher blood flow two, three, and four hours after swallowing the dragon fruit powder than the placebo group and that the impact lasted for two weeks.
According to research, eating dragon fruit daily may significantly impact heart disease risk, most likely due to the red fruit’s betalain pigment.
Helps Your Immune System
Both directly and indirectly, dragon fruit promotes good immune function. The fruit has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimicrobial effects. Food-borne microbes such as yeasts and molds have been proven to be inhibited by portions of meat and peel. In addition, eating dragon fruit causes a shift in gut bacteria, which helps activate and maintain the body’s general immunological response.
It is possible to be allergic to dragon fruit, which can cause symptoms such as vomiting, hives, a raised rash, and tongue swelling.
Eating red dragon fruit may also cause your urine to become pinkish-red. However, this is uncommon. According to urologists, reddish urine that isn’t caused by blood, known as pseudo hematuria, can also be caused by consuming many highly pigmented reddish foods, such as beets, berries, or rhubarb.
Tips for Adding Yellow Dragon Fruit to Your Diet
Dragon fruit can be kept on the counter for a few days, but for longer-term storage, place it in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator.20
Dragon fruit can be a unique garnish in beverages, meals, and snacks.
- Cut a dragon fruit in half and scoop out the meat with a spoon.
- Make smoothies or smoothie bowls with dragon fruit flesh.
- Combine fresh lime and mint with pureed dragon fruit to make a fiber-rich mocktail.
- Layer dragon fruit cubes in mason jars, alternating with yogurt, almonds, granola, or oatmeal.
- Flesh dragon fruit can be added to fruit salads or buffets.
- Cut dragon fruit into garden salads, slaws, or chilled whole grain salads.
- Garnish any dish with dragon fruit balls, slices, or cubes, such as baked tofu or black bean tacos.
- To make imitation ice cream, combine dragon fruit meat and plant milk and freeze.
- Serve with melted dark chocolate and skewers of cubed dragon fruit and other fruits.
- Garnish chia, chocolate avocado, or brown rice pudding with dragon fruit balls or cubes.
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