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10 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

10 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit only grows in tropical and subtropical areas, such as South America and Asia. The fruit has a skin resembling dragon scales and a stem that looks like a large cactus. Despite its strange appearance, dragon fruit has a myriad of benefits for health. In this article, we’ll talk about the multiple dragon fruit benefits.

Nutritional Content

Dragon fruit has a number of varieties characterized by differences in skin color and flesh. Still, most varieties have similar nutritional content. Based on reports, 100 grams of raw red dragon fruit contains¹:

  • Water: 85.7 grams
  • Energy: 60 cal.
  • Protein: 1.18 gram
  • Carbohydrates: 12.94 grams
  • Fiber : 2.9 grams
  • Calcium: 18 mg
  • Iron: 0.74 mg
  • Magnesium: 40 mg
  • Vitamin C: 2.5 mg
  • Vitamin A: 59 IU

dragon fruit benefits

Health institutions also said this fruit also contains lycopene², a compound from the carotenoid group that gives the fruit its red color.

Lycopene has antioxidant properties that can counteract free radicals, which are associated with various diseases. Besides lycopene, dragon fruit also contains other antioxidant compounds, betalains and hydroxycinnamates, that are important for the body.

Dragon Fruit Benefits

Below are the science-backed dragon fruit benefits:

1. It Promotes Skin Health

Since dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants and it contains vitamins A and C, it may help promote skin health. After all, reports say carotenoids and vitamins A and C are “agents capable of promoting skin health and beauty”³.

2. It Might Help Reduce The Risk Of Prostate Cancer

Dragon fruit benefits may include prostate cancer risk reduction. Reports say lycopene (which dragon fruits are rich in) can induce death of prostate cancer cells and suppress progression and proliferation⁴.

3. It Might Improve Heart Health

The fiber content in dragon fruit can help lower bad cholesterol⁵. Moreover, reports say the fruit can help promote vasodilation, reduce vascular stiffness, and lower the blood pressure. Hence, dragon fruit benefits potentially include heart health boost.

4. It Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels

The fiber content in dragon fruit can help control blood sugar levels by suppressing sugar spikes which often occur after the consumption of foods with high glycemic index . Research published in the journal PloS One in 2016 also found that pitaya can fight insulin resistance in mice, which is one of the causes of diabetes⁷,⁸

5. It’s A Good Food To Boost The Immune System

Consuming dragon fruit can also help boost your immune system because of the vitamins and minerals it contains (particularly Vitamin C). Additionally, the antioxidants in the fruit help your body fight cell damage, which is associated with various diseases.

6. It Aids In Weight Loss

Dragon fruit can be a good snack choice if you’re trying to lose weight. It is rich in fiber and low in calories, which can help you feel fuller for longer. This means you are less likely to snack on empty calories that contribute to increased weight.

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7. It Boosts Digestive Health

Did you know that dragon fruit benefits include better gut health?

The fiber content in dragon fruit can help regulate your bowel movement, reducing the risk of constipation . In addition, reports say the dragon fruit has a positive impact on the gut microbiome. This means the fruit appears to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria².

8. It Helps Fight Inflammation

The antioxidant compounds in this fruit have anti-inflammatory properties, which are helpful in fighting cell damage and inflammation. One example of an inflammatory disease is arthritis.

9. It’s Good for Pregnant Women

Pregnant women need various nutrients such as iron, vitamin C, and calcium — all of which are found in dragon fruit. Iron can help red blood cells deliver oxygen to the fetus, and vitamin C and calcium strengthen teeth and bones. Likewise, the fiber in dragon fruit can help fight constipation, a common occurrence in pregnancy.

10. It Reduces the Risk of Anemia

Everyone needs iron to maintain healthy blood. Good thing dragon fruit is rich in iron, which helps make the red blood cells that deliver oxygen throughout the body.

Various Ways To Enjoy Dragon Fruit

To obtain the numerous dragon fruit benefits, eat the fruit fresh. Alternatively, you can consume dragon fruit as a juice or smoothie – just be careful in adding sweeteners. You can also mix the fruit in salad or oatmeal.

Regardless of how you want to enjoy dragon fruit, always choose the fresh kind with an even red skin color.

Learn more about Healthy Eating here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

1 [HISTORICAL RECORD]: DRAGON FRUIT BITE SIZE FRUIT CUBES, https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/537279/nutrients, Accessed December 14, 2021

2 All About Dragon Fruit: 3 Health Benefits + How to Eat It, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/get-to-know-the-incredible-edible-dragon-fruit/, Accessed December 14, 2021

3 Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/, Accessed December 14, 2021

4 Potential inhibitory effect of lycopene on prostate cancer, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332220306521, Accessed December 14, 2021

5 The effects of betalain-rich cacti (dragon fruit and cactus pear) on endothelial and vascular function: a systematic review of animal and human studies†, https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2020/FO/D0FO00537A, Accessed December 14, 2021

6 Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192, Accessed December 14, 2021

7 Poolsup, N., Suksomboon, N., & Paw, N. J. (2017). Effect of dragon fruit on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloS one, 12(9), e0184577. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184577, Accessed December 14, 2021

8 Song, H., Zheng, Z., Wu, J., Lai, J., Chu, Q., & Zheng, X. (2016). White Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) Juice Attenuates Insulin Resistance and Hepatic Steatosis in Diet-Induced Obese Mice. PloS one, 11(2), e0149670. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0149670, Accessed December 14, 2021

9 Nutrition During Pregnancy, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/nutrition-during-pregnancy#, Accessed December 14, 2021

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Written by Hello Sehat Updated Apr 18
Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen