15- HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRAGON FRUIT
A beautiful tropical fruit, dragon fruit has become quite popular in recent years. The fruit is also known as pitaya, or the strawberry pear that is sweet and crunchy. Dragon fruit in Spanish is known as La pitaya. Dragon fruit plant is known as Honolulu Queen, the flowers of it open only at night. Dragon fruit is native to southern Mexico and Central America, but today it can be found all over the world.
The fruit is available in two most common types having bright red skin with green scales. It resembles the shape of a dragon and hence the fruit-derived its name as dragon fruit. There is also another variety of this fruit that is yellow having yellow skin and white pulp with black seeds.
Dragon fruit looks exotic but the flavors are similar to other fruits. You can enjoy this fruit in your fruit salads, create tasty drinks and desserts, and it is a healthy snack on its own.
What is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit got its name due to its appearance and somewhat resembled an artichoke, having pointy ‘scales’ around the oval-shaped fruit reminding us of the shape of a dragon.
There are four varieties of the fruit. The three types are pink-skinned; one has white flesh, the second one with purple flesh and the third one with red flesh. The fourth variety is yellow from outside and white inside. There are tiny black seeds in them that are edible just like the kiwi fruit. Serve the fruit as it is or you can easily blend it into a cocktail.
The preparation of this fruit is simple; you just have to cut in the middle and remove the flesh with a spoon. Dragon fruit can be a bit pricy depending on the variety and the place it is grown.
Varieties of Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is classified under genus/species/hybrid. The Hylocereus genus has a dragon fruit of three different species and the Selenicereus has one. Each of these species has several hybrids. It is very easy to categorize dragon fruit by their skin and flesh color.
The common dragon fruit is the Pink-skinned, white-fleshed dragon fruit (Hylocereus Undatus). This pink fruit is the least sweet and sold under various names like cosmic, Alice, Charlie, David Bowie, Harpua, Guyute, L.A. Woman, Seoul Kitchen, Neitzel, Thompson, and Vietnamese Jaina.
Hylocereus polyrhizus is often larger and sweeter and of more common variety has pink skin with red or pink flesh. They are Red Jaina, Bloody Mary, Voodoo Child, and Zamorano.
The third spice of fruit is the Hylocereus guatemalensis. The fruit has bright pink skin with purple flesh. The native of the fruit is Central and South America and also in Florida. This fruit marketed as American Beauty.
One of the smallest and sweetest varieties of fruit has yellow skin with white flesh. The fruit is grown in South America, Selenicereus megalanthus is difficult to get as it is not produced on a mass scale.
Nutritional Facts about Dragon Fruit
There are several nutrients available in this fruit. The fruit has iron, magnesium and fiber content in them. One hundred grams of dragon fruit has 60 calories, 1.2 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbs, 0 grams of fat, 3 grams of fiber, 3% of Vitamin C and 4% of Iron.
Dragon fruit is a highly nutrient-dense and low-calorie fruit having a high amount of fiber and magnesium. It has a good amount of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds that help in reducing the risk of cancer. The presence of vitamin C helps to fight chronic disease and boost your immune system.
The fruit is good in managing your weight as well as aid in digestion and promotes a healthy gut. The presence of iron in combination with vitamin C helps to increase the absorption rate of iron.
Provides Several Antioxidants
Dragon fruit possesses various antioxidants. The antioxidants are compounds that protect the cells in the body from unstable molecules called free radicals. They are also linked to chronic diseases and aging.
Mentioned below are some of the main antioxidants properties of Dragon fruit:-
– Betalains are found in the pulp of red dragon fruit. There are deep red pigments that prevent bad LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized or damaged.
– The compound has shown anticancer activity in test-tube and animal studies.
– This antioxidant is related to better brain health and reduced risk of heart disease.
Dragon fruit thus contains various antioxidants that give protection to your cells from damage, and these include betalains, hydroxycinnamates, and flavonoids.
How to eat Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit looks very daunting and is very easy to eat. Eating fruit is very simple.
How to cut Dragon Fruit?
Cutting dragon fruit is very simple. Take a bright red fruit having evenly colored skin that squeezes when touched slightly. With the help of a sharp knife, cut the fruit-slicing it in half. With a spoon, eat the fruit out of the skin or peel the skin odd and cut the pulp into small pieces.
Ways to serve dragon fruit:
- Thoroughly wash it and slice the fruit and eat it as it is.
- Cut it into small pieces and top it up with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.
- Use it along with the salad.
Dragon fruit is easy to prepare and can be eaten on its own, or you can pair it with other fruits to make healthy recipes.
Taste Of Dragon Fruit?
Dragon is a tropical fruit that has a sweet, delicate taste and described as a cross between kiwi and pear or kiwi and watermelon. The texture of the fruit is somewhat creamy with little seed similar to kiwi fruit.
Dragon Fruit Recipes
You can enjoy dragon fruit on its own, either cut up or can be eaten right of the skin. It is a quick snack, and you have to grab a spoon and take out the pulp from it. Cut the fruit into cubes into the skin shell to serve it. You can also transfer it to a serving bowl and enjoy the fruit. Dragon fruit can be scooped out with a melon baller for a clean presentation.
Pair the dragon fruit with fish dishes, particularly cod, tuna, and mahi-mahi. The fruit can be served on the side or chop it finely and place it on the top of the fish as a salsa. Almost all of the dragon fruit works well with any tropical fruit. Hence, you can mix it with any of the fruits like papaya, mango or pineapple.
Since the dragon fruit tastes sweet, it can be used to make delicious drinks as well as frozen desserts like dragon fruit martinis, dragon fruit smoothie, and dragon fruit frozen sorbet.
From Where You Should Buy Dragon Fruit?
Throughout the year, dragon fruit can be found. Though dragon fruit peaks in summer and lasts into early autumn. The fruit has knotted looking skin that makes it easy to locate it in any product market. The dragon fruit is not available in all of the grocery shops. Rarely will you find it in the local supermarket, but you can find it in a specialty store or Asian market.
Look for bright, even-colored skin while choosing a ripe dragon fruit. Normal dragon fruit will have few blemishes on the skin. The fruit has a lot of blotches that might be too ripe to be eaten. Wash the fruit before eating. Try to press the skin of the dragon fruit by holding it in your palm and press the skin with your thumb or fingers.
The only bit of pressing is needed and this should not be too soft or mushy. Even after pressing the fruit if it is firm, let it ripen for a few more days. Do not purchase a dragon fruit that has many bruises or brown marks. Fruit with one or two marks are okay, but never purchase a fruit that has too many blemishes. Purchase a very firm dragon fruit as you can keep it for a few days and after it ripens, you can eat it.
Storage of Dragon Fruit
For a few days, dragon fruit can remain on the counted. Store it in the refrigerator. This is very essential as the fruit picks up flavors and odors of other food.
Cut the Dragon fruit only when you are ready to eat. After it is cut, you need to refrigerate it in a tight container. This helps in keeping the fruit fresh for a day or two, and this depends on how ripe the fruit is. If the flesh of the fruit turns brown and gets mushy, it is high time to throw it.
What are the Benefits of Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit is loaded with full of vitamins and nutrients and thus offer potentially disease-fighting antioxidants. No doubt eating this fruit on a regular basis gives a positive influence on your health and wellness.
Continue to read the article to know about the health benefits of the fruit.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
– Dragon fruit is the best fruit if you are looking for improving your cardiovascular health and also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. The antioxidant properties in the fruit and the seeds being edible provide your body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Eating the fruit helps in reducing the LDL, the bad cholesterol level in the body. Improving the cholesterol level in the body helps to reduce plaque buildup in your arteries and thus helps in the smooth flow of healthy blood to the body.
Supports your Immune System
– People suffering from illness due to poor immune system. They are likely to suffer from common cold, flu, and infections. The presence of vitamin C in the dragon fruit gives your immune system a boost and protects your body against germs and bacteria and free radicals. In the body, free radicals are unstable and can lead to cell damage.
Aids your Digestion
– Dragon fruit is rich in dietary fiber and this helps in promoting healthy digestion and gut health. 21 to 38 grams of fiber content is needed by an adult every day. 100 grams of dragon fruit contains 3.0 grams of fiber or 11 percent of the daily intake value. Taking a sufficient amount of dietary fiber helps to keep the bowel clean and prevent and treat constipation.
Plays a role in Cancer Prevention
– The presence of vitamin C in dragon fruit helps to prevent cancer besides boosting the immune system. Red dragon fruit contains lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that gives the red color to the fruit. The antioxidant also helps to reduce the cancerous cells in the body. The extracted juice from red dragon fruit helps in the prevention and treatment of breast cancer.
Research is going on to determine the role of the fruit in chemoprevention of breast cancer.
Lowers Blood sugar in Diabetes
– Dragon fruit has fiber content and this helps people suffering from type 2 diabetes. People stay fuller for longer and also lose weight. All this is very beneficial in keeping blood sugar under control.
Promotes Skin Health
– You derive immense benefit by eating dragon fruit as it is beneficial for the skin too. Age spots are reduced; wrinkles, dry skin, and acne are all prevented when you consume dragon fruit. All these benefits are derived due to the properties of vitamin C and antioxidants in the fruit. You get a youthful appearance by eating the fruit as it is rich in vitamins and minerals, and this also helps in repairing cell damage.
– Eating dragon fruit helps to relieve you from chronic pain like rheumatoid arthritis. You get relief from inflammation and tenderness. The anti-inflammatory properties of the fruit function as a natural painkiller for these symptoms. Even if you are not completely cured of the pain but the severity of the pain will be reduced thus allowing you to enjoy a good quality of life.
Ward Off Anemia in Pregnancy
Anemia is closely connected during pregnancy and infant mortality rate, premature labor, miscarriages, and low birth weight. The red dragon fruit has a positive effect on pregnant women with iron deficiency anemia as per a study conducted by the Belitung Nursing Journal. On the seventh day of the intervention, dragon fruit increases the hemoglobin and erythrocyte levels in the body.
Researchers thus started believing that eating dragon fruit can be the best alternative to treat anemia during pregnancy. In case you are suffering from anemia during pregnancy, it is better to consult a doctor.
Can Eat Dragon Fruit Help in Losing Weight?
To get a slimmer appearance, there is no magic food that can melt the fat off your body. By eating the right kind of food, you will find a great transformation in your body. Dragon fruit is low in calories helps in reducing weight. Eat it as a snack in between meals without being guilty. The fiber content in the fruit helps you to feel full. The sooner you are satisfied, the more likely you will take fewer calories and boost up your weight loss goals.
Eating of Dragon fruit is safe, but in rare cases, people may develop an allergic reaction. In two cases, it has been found that after consuming a fruit mixture containing dragon fruit, women with no history of food allergies developed anaphylactic reactions. On medical examination, they revealed of having antibodies against dragon fruit in their blood.
There may be other cases, too, as some people might be allergic to the fruit. However, so far, no person has been severely allergic to the dragon fruit.
Dragon fruit is low in calories contains less sugar and fewer carbs than other tropical fruits. The fruit possesses various health benefits. The fruit is an incredibly unique fruit with a sweet taste and adds variety to the diet.