Dragon fruit, also known as strawberry pear is a pinkish-red tropical fruit with sweet, seed-speckled pulp and crunchy texture. It has a high nutritious content has it acclaimed as a superfood among the health-conscious. Here are the health benefits of dragon fruit.
High in nutrients
Dragon fruit has a wide variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s high in fibre, manganese, iron, lycopene, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, sodium and the B vitamins niacin and riboflavin.
May help fight chronic disease
Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals which left unchecked cause cell damage and inflammation. Diets high in antioxidants help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Dragon fruit has a variety of antioxidants including vitamin C, Betalains and Carotenoids. Vitamin C is associated with lower rates of head and neck cancer. Betalains have the ability to suppress cancer cells. Carotenoids have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C is also linked to a stronger immune system.
High in fibre
Dragon fruit is rich in fibre which is beneficial to the gut and overall health. Dietary fibre helps increase healthy bacteria in the gut. High fibre content also helps bulk up bowel movements, facilitating smooth passage through the digestive tract. In this way, dragon fruit is useful in preventing conditions like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and even colorectal cancer.
Fibre, abundant in dragon fruit, also plays a role in building protection against heart disease and helps in managing type 2 diabetes. Foods that are rich in fibre are also filling which can help with maintaining healthy body weight. Dragon fruit is also naturally fat-free which is beneficial for people trying to lose weight.
May help lower blood sugar
Dragon fruit may help lower blood sugar. It does this by replacing the damaged cells in the pancreas that are linked to making insulin, the hormone used by the body to break down sugar. The study was done on mice so there is a need for human studies.
Can boost iron levels
Iron plays a critical role in the circulation of blood in the body. Dragon fruit is rich in iron which helps boost the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Iron also plays a part in metabolism, as well as growth and development. Vitamin C also works to boost the body’s absorption of iron.
May be beneficial for skincare
The antioxidants in dragon fruit help fight the visible signs of ageing by reducing the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. Antioxidants also aid in treating sunburn, acne and dry skin. Vitamin C also helps brighten the skin.
Health risks and precautions
The chances of an allergic reaction are really slim. However, in the event that you have an adverse reaction, the symptoms to look out for are swelling of the tongue, hives and vomiting. It is however incredibly rare to be allergic to dragon fruit. What is more common is if you eat a lot of it, your pee may turn pink or red which is not nearly as alarming as it sounds or looks.
How to add it to your diet
Peel, slice and eat the fruit raw. Some people squeeze lime juice over it to enhance the flavour. You can also chill, grill, or blend dragon fruit. Most people don’t eat the skin because of its bitter flavour but there are some who pickle the skin and eat it alone or in a salad. The skin is also a great source of antioxidants.