Dragon fruit Overview
Dragon fruit is also known as pitaya or pitahaya which comes from the genus Stenocereus and Hylocereus respectively. Dragon fruit comes in three varieties, namely, red skin with red flesh, red skin with white flesh, and yellow skin with white flesh. There are both sweet and sour dragon fruits, depending on the species, shape, and size. In terms of the most common form of dragon fruit, it is slightly smaller than a cantaloupe, red in color, and covered in broad spiky growths.
Some dragon fruits have red or yellow skin (which looks a little like a soft pineapple with spikes) and white or red flesh, but always the beginnings of overlaid leaves, similar to an artichoke, and an abundance of small, black, edible seeds. The flavor is mildly sweet, like a blend of kiwifruit and pear, and it has a crunchy texture.
Dragon fruits have a surprising number of phytonutrients. Rich in antioxidants, they contain vitamin C , polyunsaturated (good) fatty acids, and several B vitamins for carbohydrate metabolism, as well as carotene and protein. Calcium is present for strong bones and teeth, iron and phosphorus for healthy blood and tissue formation. The benefits are realized in a number of ways, from a strengthened immune system and faster healing of bruises and wounds to fewer respiratory problems.
Dragon fruits have zero complex carbohydrates, so foods can be more easily broken down in the body, helped by vitamin B1 (thiamin) and other B vitamins. The phytochemical captin, used as a medication to treat heart problems, is present in the fruit itself, and an oil in the seed operates as a mild laxative.
The seeds of dragon fruits are high in polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) that reduce triglycerides and lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders. Eating dragon fruit can help the body maintain such normal function as ridding the body of toxic heavy metals and improved eyesight. Lycopene, responsible for the red color in dragon fruit, has been shown to be linked with a lower prostate cancer risk.
However, consume dragon fruit in moderation because it contains fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Nutrition Value of Dragon Fruit
Amount per 100g
- Calories 52.
- Protein 1.1 gram.
- Fat 0.4 grams.
- Total Carborhydrates 11 grams.
- Fiber 3 grams.
- Vitamin C 34% of the RDI.
- Iron 10.6% of the RDI.
- Thiamine 2.7% of the RDI.
- Riboflavin 2.9% of the RDI.
10 Nutrition Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
1. Boosts Immunity
Dragon fruit has high levels of Vitamin C which is helps boost the immune system and it stimulates the activity of other antioxidants in the body as well. They actively seek out and eliminate free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cell metabolism, which have been directly linked to potentially fatal conditions like cancer and heart diseases.
They also have antifungal and antibacterial qualities. These can help increase the white blood cell count in the body, which defend against toxins and also inhibit the entrance or growth of fungal or bacterial infections in the organ systems.
The micronutrients in dragon fruit are also impressive. A study published in the Journal of Food Science observed polyphenol and flavonoid content and effects on several cancer cell lines from the extracts of the flesh and peel of the white and red dragon fruit. Both extracts revealed anticancer activity and a direct correlation between the phenolic content and antioxidant effect, suggesting that this extract may be a valuable ingredient in foods as well as cosmetics, nutraceuticals and even pharmaceutical applications.
2. Aids in Digestion
Dragon fruits have a significantly high fiber content, which means that they can help bulk up bowel movements, facilitating smooth passage through the digestive tract, stimulating peristaltic motion, and inducing a release of digestive juices. By regulating bowel function with dietary fiber, this fruit helps in preventing various conditions like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and even serious diseases like colorectal cancer.
The fruit also contains oligosaccharides which works as a prebiotic which in turn improves gut health and digestion. According to research published in the journal 3 Biotech, “the introduction of functional compounds like prebiotics in the diet seems to be an attractive alternative to ameliorate the quality of life ridden with obesity, cancer, hypersensitivity, vascular diseases and degenerative ailments.”
3.Reduces Cancer Risk
Dragon fruit has antioxidants which help reduce cancer risk. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals that may cause cancer. Carotene, found in dragon fruits has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities. It helps in reducing the size of tumors as well.
4. Boosts Metabolism
Dietary intake of protein is essential for healthy functioning of our body and dragon fruit is an unusually good source of protein. Many of the proteins we gain from fruits, vegetables, and meat are metabolized by enzymes in our body and turned into usable proteins that can speed up cell repair, enhance strength and metabolism, and help us lose weight and increase muscle mass.
5. Heart Health
Dragon fruit has no cholestrol or unhealthy saturated fats also the fiber in the fruit helps scrap off low density lipoprotein cholestrol in blood and excrete it which helps prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
Dragon fruit seeds has good fat which can increase the HDL or good cholesterol. HDL cholesterol actively decreases the amount of LDL cholesterol by inhibiting the receptors that it binds to, on the walls of arteries.
6. Regulates Blood Sugar Level
Dragon fruit help regulate blood sugar as the fiber in the fruit help stabilize blood sugar levels and maintain normal blood sugar. Fiber help slow the absorption of sugar in the blood, this helps prevent sugar spikes after eating high glycemic index foods.
A study published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy Research found that dragon fruit had positive results on the oxidative stress on tested subjects, suggesting its consumption as beneficial in reducing some issues that may be associated with diabetes.
7. Skin Care
Pitaya has vitamin C which helps in the production of collagen which provides integrity, firmness and elasticity to the skin thereby preventing aging and formation of wrinkles. Phosphorous also helps in keeping the skin looking youthful as it helps repair damaged cells.
8. Aids in Weight Loss
Pitaya are low in calories and it is approximately 90% water and has a high amount of fiber. Fiber provides a satiety feeling which makes one fuller for longer and prevents overeating.
9. Prevents Congenital Glaucoma
One published study has shown that having dragon fruit can help prevent congenital glaucoma. It stated that this fruit has the power to inhibit human cytochrome P450, a protein usually found in the liver, and can help proper functioning of lungs and kidney. This protein is also linked to the possibilities of congenital glaucoma.
10. Strengthens Teeth and Bones
Dragon fruit is rich in calcium and phosphorus, the most essential nutrients for strong bones and teeth. Both these nutrients are highly co-dependent on each other, which means that having a calcium-rich diet alone can’t fight serious bone and teeth disorders. This is why dragon fruit is a good solution; it literally provides you best. It helps increase the bone density and mass while strengthening the roots of the teeth.
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