Dragon Fruit is a type of fruit belonging to the genus Hylocereus of the Cactaceae family. It is also known as pitaya or pitahaya.
Though the fruit is native to Central and South America, it is cultivated in East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and throughout tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. The fruit is called the “Dragon” fruit because it has vibrant pink or red skin covered with a green scary spike that gives it the look of a dragon.
The fruit inside has white pulp with black seeds and sweet, juicy flesh. Dragon fruit is a good source of nutrition, particularly vitamins, and antioxidants, which benefit the body’s immune system. Interestingly, dragon fruit might seem to be a foreign fruit, but its flavour is similar to a mix of kiwi and pear. The fruit due to its nutritional benefits is in high demand throughout the world. Currently, Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter of dragon fruit.
Nutritional Values of Dragon Fruit
Here are the nutrition facts for a 3.5-ounce (100 grams) serving of dragon fruit:
- Calories: 60
- Protein: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fibre: 3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 13 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
- Iron: 4% of RDI
- Magnesium: 10% of RDI
Apart from that, dragon fruits are a rich source of Antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acid and betacyanin, and many vitamins and minerals, namely:
- Vitamin C: A 100 grams serving of dragon fruit contains 3% of RDI (Reference Daily Intake, which is the daily intake level of a nutrient). Vitamin C is needed for the development and repair of body tissues.
- Vitamin A: 100 International Units (IU)
- Potassium: A 100 grams serving of dragon fruit contains 5% of RDI
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
1. Boosting the Immune System
As dragon fruit is high in vitamin C and other antioxidants, regular intake may help in boosting the immune system and will protect the body against infections. Studies have found that consuming dragon fruit in decent amounts can help to reduce the severity and duration of colds and other respiratory infections.
2. Improves Cardiovascular Health
The antioxidants in dragon fruit and its seeds (which are edible too) provide the body with Omega-3 and Omega-9 fatty acids, which are healthy for the body and reduce bad cholesterol levels (LDL), thereby improving overall cardiovascular health. Eating dragon fruit might reduce the chances of heart attack and stroke and make us feel energized all day long.
3. Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Dragon fruit may lower blood sugar levels, as it helps to replace the damaged cells in the pancreas that make insulin. The fibre in the dragon fruit help to slow down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream and also the fibre helps to stay fuller for longer and lose weight. It is especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
4. Reduces Inflammation
Eating dragon fruit can be beneficial for people suffering from arthritis and asthma as the anti-oxidants in the fruit help to reduce inflammation. Dragon fruit acts as a natural painkiller and reduces the severity of pain.
5. Improves Skin Health
High levels of vitamin C and antioxidants in the dragon fruit help in reducing age spots, wrinkles, dry skin and acne. It also makes us feel younger and provide us with glowing skin. Also, the vitamins and minerals in the dragon fruit help in repairing damaged cells and give a youthful appearance. In addition, dragon fruit could be applied as a face mask to make the skin look smoother.
6. Aid Digestion
The fibre in dragon fruit helps to regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. It contains prebiotics, which are foods that feed the healthy bacteria called probiotics in the gut. Also, in the gut, these bacteria can kill disease-causing viruses and other harmful bacteria and thus improves overall digestive health.
7. Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Studies have found that dragon fruit helps to reduce cancerous cells in the body and, especially, red dragon fruit extract may play an important role in reducing the risk of breast and prostate cancer. Thanks to the antioxidants present in dragon fruit which also help in reducing metastasis (spreading of cancer cells).
How to Eat Dragon Fruit
Here are some steps for how to eat this fruit:
1. The first step is obviously to rinse the fruit well under cold water to remove dirt and debris. It should be noted that the skin of dragon fruit is not edible and should be discarded.
2. Then cut the fruit in half lengthwise using a sharp knife.
3. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh out of dragon fruit and eat it or one can also cut it into cubes and grill it.
4. One can also add the fleshy part to a variety of dishes, such as smoothies, salads, or desserts.
5. Enjoy energy-rich and healthy fruit.
Dragon Fruit is a low-calorie fruit that contains less sugar and low carbs than many other tropical fruits. Overall, dragon fruit is unique and healthy and can add variety to our diet. Some people might develop an allergic reaction to dragon fruits, hence it is always better to consult a healthcare professional before consuming it regularly.