Want to know about an exotic fruit which has not only been the talk of the town through the Instagram worthy pictures of it but also has been creating waves in the nutrition and health industry with its abundant medical properties?
Well, we are talking about the Dragon fruit, the new superfood in the market. Loaded with antioxidants, flavonoids, phenolic acid and betacyanin and many other abundant anti-microbial properties, this exotic fruit has been providing substantial health properties that have made it immensely popular among both food lovers and fitness enthusiasts.
Don’t believe us? Continue reading on then to find out about dragon fruit health benefits .
What is dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit is a fruit which grows on a climbing cactus in the tropical regions of the world. The name of the cactus is Hylocereus and it derives its name from two Greek words. ‘Hyle’ means woody and ‘cereus’ means waxen.
Dragon fruit was native to Southern Mexico and south and central America but the French brought the fruit to Southeastern Asia in the 19th century. From then onwards it got spread to other parts of the world and now it can be found in most of the superfood markets of the world.
You may now be wondering how this fruit got its name. The fruit has the appearance of a hot pink or yellow bulb with spike-like green leaves shooting like flames around it giving it an appearance of a dragon and therefore giving the name of dragon fruit.
Also known as pitaya or strawberry pear, dragon fruit can be found in three varieties:
- red skin with red flesh
- red skin with white flesh
- yellow skin with white flesh
Dragon fruit tastes like a cross between kiwi and pear and the seeds inside the fruit provides you with a nutty flavour.
Nutritional facts about Dragon fruit
One cup serving of dragon fruit provides you with:
- 102 Calories
- 2 grams of proteins
- 22 grams of carbohydrates
- 5 grams of fibre
- 13 grams of sugar
- 4 milligrams of Vitamin C
- 31 milligrams of Calcium
- 1 gram of iron
- 68 milligrams of magnesium
- 87 grams of water
- 0.4 grams of fat
- 1.25 milligrams of Vitamin B
Dragon fruit benefits
As you can already see dragon fruit has extensive amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, fibre and protein. Apart from these nutrients, dragon fruit also has phytonutrients which protect us from several diseases.
Some of the dragon fruit health benefits are:
- Abundant presence of antioxidants
Dragon fruit is a plethora of antioxidants and each of them provides a unique benefit of their own.
Antioxidants are compounds which protect our body from free radical damage and they are also related to chronic diseases and ageing.
Some of the major antioxidants groups found in dragon fruit are:
Betalains: Prevent bad cholesterol from damaging our circulatory system. It also increases the good cholesterol in the body.
Hydroxycinnamates: Demonstrated anticancer property when used on animals for study.
Flavonoids: Enhances brain activity and reduces the risk of heart diseases.
- Good for hair and skin
Dragon fruit helps you to prevent early ageing of skin and hair. Ancient beauty practitioners in Southeastern Asia used to believe making a paste of dragon fruit flesh and applying it on the skin would provide numerous benefits for the skin.
Ageing can be increased by a variety of factors including stress, pollution and poor diet. Including dragon fruit in your diet can help you to fight against early ageing due to the abundance of antioxidants in the fruit.
Vitamin C present in the fruit helps you to fight against sunburn, acne, dry skin and also simultaneously brighten your skin tone. On the other hand, consuming dragon fruit helps you to reduce hair damage caused due to hair colouring and also improve the hair texture in the process.
- Strengthen the immune system
Dragon fruits are loaded with vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that provide numerous benefits to our body and much emphasis should be made on the point that consuming dragon fruit can strengthen the immune system from within.
- Vitamin C present in dragon fruit boosts the immune system, aids the absorption of iron by the body, produces collagen and promotes healthy and glowing skin.
- Loaded with potassium and calcium, dragon fruit helps in maintaining bone structure. It regulates the cellular, nervous, electrical functions of the body.
- Black seeds present inside the fruit are rich in Omega-3 and Omega-9 fatty acids which reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- Fibre present in dragon fruit helps to relieve constipation and get rid of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
Quite evident that the dragon fruit works on different aspects of our body and provides unique health benefits to each of them.
Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, dragon fruit also helps in fighting menopausal complications in women and is also an ideal fruit for pregnant women.
Potential Health risks of dragon fruit
Dragon fruit is safe to eat and can be consumed by old and young alike, however, there may be some health risks associated with dragon fruit like:
- Swelling of tongue
- Formation of hives on the skin
- Overconsumption of dragon fruit can turn your urine into a bright red colour.
How to consume a dragon fruit?
Dragon fruit’s thick skin can be a little intimidating to look at but do not worry, eating it is equally easy.
Always look for the ripe dragon fruit and avoid unripe or overripe or that have too many blotches on the skin.
To eat the fruit, cut the fruit in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. The inside of the fruit resembles an oreo milkshake with the black seeds encrusted into the white flesh.
Scoop out the fruit with the help of a spoon or you can cut them in cubes.
You can now consume them in various ways like:
- Toss it into a fruit salad along with tropical fruits.
- Make it into a salsa
- Churn it into an ice cream
- Squeeze it into juice or make detox water out of it.
- Use it as a topping for your Greek yoghurt.
- Make a dragon fruit smoothie.
- Eat it raw which is the best option and provides the maximum health benefits.
There you go, everything you need to know about the multifaceted dragon fruit. With its abundant nutritional and medicinal properties, dragon fruit has slowly acclaimed the title of superfood to itself. Go on, include it in your diet and watch the magic that it produces on your body.