Dragons according to legends are typically brightly colored with green scales and can breathe fire. Dragon fruit get their name from their tough, green scales that resemble those of a mythical dragon. Are there any benefits to having a scaly appearance? Is dragon fruit good for you and should you be eating it? And if so, where can you find it? And how do you use it?
The Hawaiian Queen, or Hylocereus cactus, is a tropical plant that produces dragon fruit. This plant’s exotic appearance is fitting for a Honolulu Queen. The cactus grows in a sprawling way along the rocks and trees nearby, like a vine. The cactus’ large, white flowers only bloom at night, leading to its nickname, “Lady of the Night.” The plant’s fruits begin to grow after the cactus flowers.
There is an ancient Chinese legend that dragon fruit was created from the fire breath of a dragon during a battle. Other common names for dragon fruit include pitaya, which is its original name, and strawberry pear. There are no ancient Chinese legends about strawberry pears. So, case closed. It will always be dragon fruit to me.
The skin of the dragon fruit is very vivid and leathery, and is one of its most unique aspects. You won’t find anything else like the inside either. You’ll be surprised the first time you cut open a dragon fruit. The most popular varieties of the fruit have a white pulp with small black seeds. This plant looks similar to an Oreo milkshake!
The seeds aren’t just for looks, either. They add a nutty flavor and contain healthy fats.
Different Types Of Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit, also known as Pitaya, is a fruit that originates from Central America and Southern Mexico. It is now grown in most tropical Asian countries. The skin of the fruit is covered in green scales and comes in either a red-skin or yellow-skin variety.
- The red-skin variety is either white or luminous red flesh.
- The yellow-skin variety is available only in the white flesh.
The many benefits that dragon fruit has to offer is the reason for its popularity. The red-skin dragon fruit with red flesh has more benefits than the other varieties of dragon fruit, which are the red-skin dragon fruit with white flesh and the yellow-skin dragon fruit.
Dragon Fruit Health Benefits
Despite the many years of the fruit’s existence, it was only recently that studies were conducted on the health benefits of dragon fruits, which are as follows:
1. It Contains Prebiotics, Which Are Good for Your Gut Health
Prebiotics act as a food source for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Red flesh dragon fruit is high in oligosaccharides, which are a type of prebiotic. Oligosaccharides represent carbohydrates that contain between 3 and 10 single sugar residues and are not relatively abundant in the diet. Oligosaccharides act like fiber and are beneficial for digestion. The oligosaccharides in pitaya can cause the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, which are two probiotics that are important.
2. It’s Good for Your Digestion
Fiber is essential for digestive health. And dragon fruit is packed with high-quality fiber. Fiber is particularly good for reducing your risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
One cup of pitaya contains seven grams of fiber. This is almost one-quarter of your recommended daily intake of fiber.
3. It Boosts Your Immune System
Dragon fruit pulp contains high levels of antioxidants, such as vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system. Antioxidants are beneficial to your health as they help protect your cells from damage and reduce your risk of developing degenerative diseases.
4. It Helps Prevent and Fight Cancer
The antioxidants in dragon fruit can help to prevent cancer. The red pigment in the red flesh dragon fruit is rich in prebiotics, lycopene, flavonoid antioxidants, and Phyto albumins, which help prevent the formation of cancerous cells.
The phytochemical lycopene, which is present in red flesh dragon fruit, can help prevent prostate cancer. Dragon fruit, with its high antioxidant properties and potential to kill colon cancer cells, may become an important part of the diet for preventing cancer.
Flavonoid antioxidants can also help to prevent inflammatory and chronic diseases such as gout, arthritis and heart disease.
5. It Helps Stabilize Your Blood Sugar
Not only does the fiber in dragon fruit promote digestive health, it also helps maintain blood sugar levels.
Pitaya may help to regulate blood sugar levels after eating other high-glycemic foods. Pitaya has been shown to reduce insulin resistance in mice.
Dragon fruit encourages the growth of pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Insulin is necessary for controlling blood sugar.
6. It’s Heart Healthy
Dragon fruit contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that improve heart health.
Red dragon fruit is particularly high in betalains, which provide its color and can reduce LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. The edible and tasty seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-9 fats, which are good for your heart and provide many other benefits.
7. It’s Healthy for Your Skin
Pitaya contains vitamin C, which does more than boost immunity. It also increases collagen production, which can help keep your skin looking healthy and young.
Dragon fruit is high in several phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and water content.
- Dry Skin: So, if you have dry skin, dragon fruit is great to keep your skin hydrated.
- Natural Moisturizer: Hence, it is also a natural moisturizer.
- Acne: When applied topically with a smooth paste of mashed dragon fruit, its vitamin C and antioxidant can reduce acne and prevent the skin from breaking out.
- Glowing Skin: The fruit’s vitamin C will rejuvenate your skin to give fresh and glowing skin.
- Premature Ageing: Lycopene present in dragon fruit can protect against free radicals that cause cell damage and premature aging.
8. It Can Boost Your Iron Levels
Six ounces of chopped dragon fruit contains 1.26 mg of iron. Iron is important for carrying oxygen throughout your body and to your organs. Iron is necessary for growth, hormone production and the protein molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the entire body.
If you want to increase your iron levels naturally, you should consider adding pitaya to your diet. Pitaya that contain both vitamin C and iron are especially beneficial because vitamin C helps improve iron absorption.
9. It Can Help Support Healthy Bones
The dragon fruit has magnesium, which is an essential mineral for having a healthy skeleton. One cup of this drink provides 80 mg of magnesium, which is one-quarter of the minimum daily recommendation for magnesium intake.
10. Improves Cholesterol
Dragon fruit is a rich source of both insoluble and soluble fibers. If you eat 100 grams of fresh dragon fruit, you will consume 1 gram of fiber. Dried fruit contains 10g of fiber per 100g. Fiber can help improve your digestive system, which can reduce the amount of dietary cholesterol in your body.
A study with mice confirmed that red dragon fruit peel powder lowered triglycerides and LDL cholesterol levels and raised HDL cholesterol levels.
11. Dragon is Nutritious & Low Calories.
Dragon fruit contains protein and carbohydrates and is low in calories. 100 grams of dragon fruit provides approximately 2.0 grams of protein and 9 grams of carbohydrates, which is approximately 3% and 4% of the recommended daily value, respectively.
- Calories: 60
- Protein: 1.18 g
- Carbohydrate: 12.94 g
- Dietary fiber: 2.9 g
Pitaya contains only 60 calories, which is 3% of the daily value. If you are trying to lose weight, this is good news.
12. Dragon Fruit Vitamins and Minerals
One hundred grams of dragon fruit provides 500 milligrams of Vitamin C. It contains smaller amounts of Vitamin A, B1, and E. Dragon fruits contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. In smaller amounts, it has calcium, iron, and copper.
- Calcium: 18 milligrams (mg)
- Iron: 0.74 g
Dragon fruit is so nutritious that it can be eaten as a complete meal.
Dragon Fruit and Pregnancy
Eating red dragon fruit while pregnant is a good idea because of all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fatty acids it contains. These nutrients would be beneficial to both a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
Iron is essential for pregnant women to reduce the chances of anemia. Folates are essential for the formation of red blood cells and this food contains them. Dragon fruit is also a good source of fiber, which can help with constipation.
A study by Widyaningsih et al. found that dragon fruit is safe for pregnant women to eat.
Dragon Fruit Sustainability
Cacti don’t need much water to grow and can handle tough desert conditions. Farmers who used to grow avocados and other citrus fruits are now growing pitaya because it doesn’t require as much water.
Many home gardeners enjoy growing dragon fruit, as it can be brought indoors for the winter in greenhouses or pots. However, freezing temperatures will kill it.
The “con” side to dragon fruit is that if it’s not grown near you, it might have to travel a really long way to get to your grocery store.
Dragon fruit is both fun to eat and full of nutrients. In warm climates, it can grow without needing a lot of water. I predict that we will see this amazing fruit more and more in the future.
If the fruit doesn’t grow near you, it may be expensive and have a large carbon footprint. There are many other great fruits that offer their own unique nutritional benefits. If you like the product and can obtain it, that’s great! But if not, don’t stress. A dragon isn’t going to come and burn your house down because of it.
According to earlier research and studies, the red-fleshed, red-skinned dragon fruit with higher levels of antioxidants like lycopene, flavonoids, and Phytoalbumins has better therapeutic properties and is therefore the better variety of dragon fruit to consume. It is slightly more expensive, but it is also sweeter and healthier. Be careful when you eat this dragon fruit as the red pigment can stain your clothes.
Dragon fruit contains many health benefits including antioxidants. Consuming a diet full of antioxidants can help to maintain a healthy heart and provide a good complexion.
If you haven’t tried it yet, you should go out and buy some. If you’ve been eating the white-fleshed variety of something, it’s time to switch to the red-fleshed variety.