Search This Website

8 August 2022

What Is Dragon Fruit and Does It Have Health Benefits?

  What Is Dragon Fruit and Does It Have Health Benefits?


Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that has become increasingly  famous in recent years.

Though people primarily enjoy it for its unique look and taste, evidence suggests it may provide health benefits as well.

This article takes a look at dragon fruit, including its nutrition, benefits, and how to eat it.

What Is Dragon Fruit?

Dragon fruit grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Honolulu queen, whose flowers only open at night.

The plant is native to southern Mexico and Central America. Today, it is grown all over the world.

It goes by many names, including pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear.

The two most common types have bright red skin with green scales that resemble a dragon — hence the name.

The most widely available variety has white pulp with black seeds, though a less common type with red pulp and black seeds exists as well.

Another variety — referred to as yellow dragon fruit — has yellow skin and white pulp with black seeds.

Dragon fruit may look exotic, but its flavors are similar to other fruits. Its taste has been described as a slightly sweet cross between a kiwi and a pear.

Nutrition Facts

Dragon fruit contains small amounts of several nutrients. It’s also a decent source of iron, magnesium, and fiber.

Here are the nutrition facts for a serving of 3.5 ounces, or 100 grams (1Trusted Source):

Calories: 60

Protein: 1.2 grams

Fat: 0 grams

Carbs: 13 grams

Fiber: 3 grams

Vitamin C: 3% of the RDI

Iron: 4% of the RDI

Magnesium: 10% of the RDI

Given the high amount of fiber and magnesium, as well as the extremely low calorie content, dragon fruit can be considered a highly nutrient-dense fruit.

Provides Several Antioxidants

Dragon fruit contains several types of antioxidants.

These are compounds that protect your cells from unstable molecules called free radicals, which are linked to chronic diseases and aging (2Trusted Source).

These are some of the main antioxidants contained in dragon fruit pulp (3Trusted Source):

Betalains: Found in the pulp of red dragon fruit, these deep red pigments have been shown to protect “bad” LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized or damaged (4Trusted Source).

Hydroxycinnamates: This group of compounds has demonstrated anticancer activity in test-tube and animal studies (5Trusted Source).

Flavonoids: This large, diverse group of antioxidants is linked to better brain health and a reduced risk of heart disease (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).

One study compared the antioxidant properties of 17 tropical fruits and berries.

Potential Health Benefits

Animal studies suggest that dragon fruit may provide various health benefits.

Many of these are likely due to its fiber and antioxidant content.

Both red and white varieties of dragon fruit have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and fatty liver in obese mice (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

In one study, mice on a high-fat diet who received an extract of the fruit gained less weight and had reductions in liver fat, insulin resistance, and inflammation, which were attributed in part to beneficial changes in gut bacteria (13Trusted Source).

Dragon fruit contains prebiotic fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut — potentially improving metabolic health (14).

In a study in mice on a high-fat, high-carb diet, the group that received dragon fruit juice had better blood sugar responses and reductions in some liver enzyme markers, while another liver enzyme marker significantly increased (15Trusted Source).

In another study, rats with diabetes treated with an extract from the fruit had a 35% reduction in malondialdehyde, a marker of free-radical damage. They also had less arterial stiffness, compared to the control group (16Trusted Source)

Study results on the effects of dragon fruit on type 2 diabetes in people are inconsistent, and more research is needed to confirm these beneficial effects (17Trusted Source).

Adverse Effects

Overall, dragon fruit appears to be safe. However, people may develop an allergic reaction in some rare cases.

In two cases, women with no history of food allergies developed anaphylactic reactions after consuming a fruit mixture that contained dragon fruit. Testing confirmed that they had antibodies against dragon fruit in their blood (18Trusted Source, 19).

These are the only two reported allergic reactions at this point, but other people may be allergic to this fruit without knowing it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please Comment Your Questions, Queries or Suggestions