Dragon Fruit: Nutrition, Benefits, How to Eat It, and More

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: August 04, 2022

Dragon Fruit: Nutrition, Benefits, How to Eat It, and More

A complete guide on dragon fruit. Learn about its nutritional value, benefits, how to eat it, and more with this article.

What is dragon fruit?

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, pitahaya, or strawberry pear, is a Cactaceae family member (cactus species). The bright pink, bulb-shaped fruit is renowned for its sweet, fresh taste and distinctive, decorative look (its spiky scales give it its name). It grows on the climbing cactus hylocereus, which may be found in tropical places all over the world. The plant's name is derived from the Greek words "hyle," which signifies "woody," and "cereus," which signifies "waxen." It is generally grown in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. While the fruit is widespread in Asia and Central America, it is less commonly consumed in the United States. Dragon fruit, on the other hand, may be a nutritious and tasty addition to one's diet since it includes vitamins, calcium, iron, and essential fats which are very unusual for a fruit. Dragon fruit was called by its look, which is similar to that of an artichoke, with pointed "scales" around the oval-shaped fruit like a dragon. The fruit is available in four varieties: one with pink skin, one with white flesh, one with red flesh, and one with purple flesh. The fourth kind has yellow skin and white meat. Like kiwifruit, they all possess small black seeds that are edible. Its distinct look suits itself to serve as it is, but this tropical fruit also works well in mixed drinks by simply cutting the fruit all along the middle and scooping out the flesh with a spoon.

Nutritional Facts of dragon fruit

According to health experts, it is not only an exotic fruit that looks fantastic, but it is also a pleasant and healthful fruit that arouses the taste senses while also providing several health advantages. Aside from appearance, several types of dragon fruit exhibit slight differences in taste. Depending on the kind and where it is cultivated, dragon fruit may weigh anywhere between 150 to 600 grams. Approximately 60% of the fruit is edible and contains a variety of nutritional advantages. Dragon fruit is abundant in protein and fiber, as well as minerals and vitamins that are helpful to our health. Dragon fruits include a high concentration of Vitamin C, minerals, and fibers. Dragon fruits are abundant in antioxidants, which assist the body to combat harmful free radicals. They are relatively high in minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus. They are also low in calories and abundant in fibers, with unsaturated fatty acids in abundance. Dragon fruits are strong in antioxidants, which are important and well-known around the world for their ability to inhibit the development of free radicals, which cause cancer. 

Some of the major nutritional values of dragon fruits are as follows:

  1. Because of the effect of the growing environmental circumstances, the nutritional content and phytochemical qualities of red Dragon fruit vary greatly. Flowering and fruit setting times have a major impact on fruit quality, particularly total soluble solids content.
  2. Dragon fruit contains minerals, glucose, fructose, dietary fibre, and vitamins.
  3. Mature Dragon fruits contain greater TSS, which is especially noticeable in fall fruits compared to summer fruits.
  4. The red flesh is also high in Betalains, which caters to the growing commercial demand in antioxidant goods and natural food colouring.
  5. A fresh dragon fruit has 82.5-83.0% hydration, 0.16-0.23 percent protein, 0.21-0.61 percent fat, and 0.7-0.9 percent fibre. Fresh fruit pulp has 6.3-8.8 mg calcium, 30.2-36.1 mg phosphorus, 0.5-0.61 mg iron, and 8-9 mg vitamin C per 100 g. 
  6. The scarlet coating of the fruit is high in vitamins B1, B2, B3, C, and minerals.
  7. The premature stem of Dragon fruit has more ascorbic acid than the meat, which may assist to reduce the risk factors of certain diseases such as scurvy, anaemia, weakness, and so on.
  8. Dragon fruit is also high in minerals such as Ca, Fe, and P, as well as having low carbohydrate content and no fats. Seeds, on the other hand, contain 50% of the necessary fatty acids linoleic acid and linolenic acid.
  9. The pulp and peel extract of dragon fruit include phytochemical substances that have antibacterial action and may be utilised as a natural antioxidant.

Some health benefits of dragon fruit

Having a taste like the mixture of kiwi fruit and pear, the fruit seems like an oreo smoothie because of its white and black interior, basically the seeds. The rich source of antioxidants also give a very much boosting energy and it helps in preventing diseases like cancer and various cardiovascular diseases. With a lot of vitamin C, Vitamin E, Iron and Magnesium this fruit though looks weird but it has many health benefits. An interesting fact about the fruit is that the Chinese claims that it originated from the fire of a dragon during a war and hence it got its name, dragon fruit. Although this myth is very popular among the Chinese people as well as with others around the world, the consumption of this fruit helps in keeping us super healthy and refreshed. The major benefits include:

  1. Dragon fruits are beneficial for digestion: This fruit is highly rich oligosaccharides(a type of carbohydrate) which helps in digestion by enhancing the growth of health beneficial bacteria inside the body. It is also high in fibre, which uplifts in digestive health thereby lowering the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. A hundred gram of dragon fruit contains around 2.5 grams of fibre, which accounts for 11% of the recommended daily intake. Including dragon fruit in one's diet will help meet their daily micro nutrient as well as fiber requirements. This in turn contributes to bowel and gastro-intestinal consistency. Having said that, the dragon fruit can also be used to cure and prevent constipation and other digestive health issues.
  2. Dragon fruits also help in boosting the level of iron in the body: One of the few fresh fruits that contain iron is dragon fruit. Iron is necessary for the transfer of oxygen throughout the body. It is also necessary for the conversion of food into energy. However, most of the people do not receive the required amount of iron i.e. 30% of our body consists of iron which can be obtained from various food and fruit items. Apart from meats, seafood, legumes, nuts, grains etc being good sources of iron, it is also found in various fruits and vegetables and dragon fruit is one such item which contains almost 8% of the required iron in one serving. It is also rich in Vitamin C which aids in the iron absorption by the human body.
  3. It helps in rejuvenating the skin: Since this fruit is rich in antioxidant and Vitamin C, this exotic fruit is very often used in beauty products and therapies. Making a paste of dragon fruit flesh and applying it to the face on a daily basis, according to ancient beauty techniques in Southeast Asian countries, can help slow down the ageing process and make one appear youthful. The paste is also helpful for treating acne and scars and sunburns. The best way to help one self in looking young and youthful is to just eat a dragon fruit. As a natural alternative for glowing and radiant skin, one can also use honey and dragon fruit extract to prepare an anti-ageing face mask. Dragon fruit's anti - oxidant capabilities can help drain impurities from one's skin and clear up impurities which again enable the skin to relax and brighten. The greatest part is that the dietary supplements in dragon fruit can aid in the growth and repair of already damaged skin cells, eventually culminating into a much more natural and youthful appearance.

Dragon fruit also helps in hair maintenance: 

  1. one can protect the chemically treated or coloured hair by applying a dragon fruit hair mask or by even using hair conditioner that contains dragon fruit extracts. This will help in opening up the hair follicles thereby leaving the hair to allow breathing and cooling the scalp. This also helps in making the hair silky and smooth. Combining dragon fruit powder with a glass of milk (250ml) once a day helps in achieving the required result. This fruit extract powder's high nutritional content eliminates hair damage caused by chemical hair dying and strengthens hair structure, leaving it smooth and luscious. All one has to do to keep up with maintaining artificially coloured hair is to eat one dragon fruit a day in order to notice the difference and get quick results.
  2. Helps in suppressing arthritis: Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints and ligaments directly, causing significant inflammation, discomfort, and immobility. Because of the anti-inflammatory substances present in its speckled depths, including dragon fruit in one’s diet can help the person in reducing the symptoms of arthritis. These substances act to reduce the inflammation that causes discomfort in and around the joints thereby allowing for more movement. Dragon fruit antioxidants function by neutralising free radicals and decreasing inflammation. The fruit's anti-inflammatory qualities may give relief from discomfort and inflammation. According to different health experts, dragon fruit can also be used as a natural painkiller for the chronic pain complaints. Though it does not completely gives relief to chronic pain and suffering, yet the fruit may help in alleviating the pain for the time period thereby reducing the severity of the inflammation allowing the person to live a better quality of life. The benefits of dragon fruit for people with chronic and rheumatoid arthritis are so significant and remarkable that sometimes people tend to refer the dragon fruit as “the anti-inflammatory fruit”.
  3. Dragon fruits are also beneficial during pregnancy: This fruit is high in vitamin B, folate, and iron, making it an excellent choice for pregnant women. Vitamin B and folate helps in avoiding abnormalities while childbirth and also helps in balancing the energy level during pregnancy. Its calcium content is responsible for the fetus's bone growth. Its magnesium content aids in the treatment of postmenopausal problems in women. In addition, dragon fruits also are high in essential fats which contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. This creates an easily available source of energy that can be immediately passed to the foetus. The fruit also has the advantage of promoting cellular regeneration in the treatment of wounds, which avoids infection and offers anti-fungal and anti-bacterial bodies to combat any microorganisms that are already present. The presence of fiber in the fruit also helps in providing constipation relief in pregnant women and keeping them in normalcy. Pregnant women with hypertension have a significantly increased risk of pre-eclampsia. Dragon fruit supports to control the level of blood pressure and blood sugar, thereby reducing the difficulties connected with pregnancy.
  4. Dragon fruits are also good for heart: The crimson pulp of dragon fruit includes betalains, which lowers harmful cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). The small dark black seeds within the fruit are high in omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the heart and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. According to recent study, eating dragon fruit on a regular basis helps reduce the risk of heart attacks and also helps in keeping the blood pressure in control. Surprisingly, dragon fruit is also a good source of monounsaturated fats, which are essential for heart health. Because dragon fruits are high in fibre and antioxidants, they help to maintain the heart healthy and youthful. They battle plaque build up in the arteries, allowing blood to circulate throughout the body.
  5. High source of potassium and magnesium: dragon fruit is high in vital mineral sources like potassium and magnesium which aid in bone structure maintenance. Potassium is incredibly important for our body's cellular, electrical, and neurological functioning. In other words, potassium is very essential in regulating the water content in the body as well as balancing the pH content in the human body. A study conducted by Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan found that if a person is diabetic, consuming food items rich in potassium may help them in preventing the heart as well as kidney problems. The typical person's body has 24g of magnesium, or around one ounce. Despite its seeming modest amount, the mineral is present in all of human cells and participates in over 600 key chemical events in the body. Some studies also indicate that the higher intake of magnesium may at times lead to reduce the risk of stroke. In such a case, dragon fruit is beneficial because it is high in magnesium, which is required for approximately 600 biological activities in the body.
  6. Assists in weight loss: some researches shows that many individuals have benefitted from attempting to reduce weight by including dragon fruits in their dietary routine. This is due to the fact that dragon fruits are high in fibre, which not only aids in satiety but also helps to normalise blood sugar levels, which prevents cravings and may prevent excess insulin production, which promotes weight gain. A study conducted on mice has found that the betacyanins found in red dragon fruit can help manage diabetes and prevent obesity by regulating the growth of beneficial bacterial in the gut. The high fiber that the fruit contains along with the water content can also help in keeping one full for an extended period of time thereby limiting the time and the desire or the urge to eat more. Because when one feels full, they tend to consume less which in a way assists in weight loss.
  7. Helps in treating dengue patients: Consuming dragon fruit may assist those afflicted with the dengue virus, according to anecdotal evidence. This maybe due to the anti-viral properties that the fruit pertains to or contains. According to a study and an investigation undertaken by the Yale University, department of medical sciences found out that the betacyanin which is present in the red dragon fruit has anti viral effect against the dengue fever. In silico studies have also revealed an affinity between dragon fruit chemicals and viral proteins. This is also a finding that proves dragon fruit can help in treating dengue fever. However, more studies are required in order to evaluate the safety of anti-viral treatment with the red dragon fruits while treating dengue fever in human beings.

How to eat it?

Dragon fruit, like any other fruit, is best eaten uncooked. However, if individuals want to add some zest to it, dragon fruit may be prepared in a variety of ways. Aside from the dishes listed below, dragon fruit may be consumed in a variety of ways. Some of the common ways are as follows:

  • Dragon fruit salad: this fruit bowl is very edible for reducing the rate of heart disease and kidney problems. Dragon fruit also helps in reducing the eye problems. It helps in managing weight by keeping the sugar in control. Other nutritious fruits used in the dragon fruit bowl are raspberries, strawberries, bananas, grapefruits, papaya, watermelons, black grapes, apples, kiwi etc. The key ingredients in preparing this fruit bowl requires: 1 Dragon fruit, peeled and cut in cubes, 1 cup of sliced other fruits, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp lemon juice, mint leaves, cream or yoghurt according to one’s preference, salt and pepper. The method that is followed afterwards is first of all adding the sliced pieces of dragon fruit along with the other fruits in a bowl. Then adding cream or yoghurt along with garnishing it with mint leaves. Lastly adding salt and pepper for taste.
  • Dragon fruit smoothie: first of all, we should cut the fruits into small cubes and then dicing up the apricots and blending everything together in a blending machine. The third step is to add some sugar yoghurt and milk and again giving it a nice blend. Cornflakes can also be added to increase its taste. Lastly, adding some ice cubes to the mixture provides a cool feeling which gives a good taste and thickness to the smoothie. 
  • Scooping the ingredients out: It's straightforward and very simple to follow. Here are five delectable options -first of all, hollow out the dragon fruit. To begin with, the dragon fruit must be cut in half. Then, using a spoon, scooping out the flesh and eating it fresh, or sprinkling it with honey, one can be able to have it as a mid-meal treat. However, the outer peel is inedible and should be avoided. Simply peeling the scaly outer layer and then slicing the inside meat as desired. 
  • Freezing the fruit: Freeze it: Nothing beats a cool popsicle or dessert in the heat of the summer. And dragon fruit is an excellent alternative because it is high in vitamins and pleasant to eat. All one must do is squeeze the fruit (along with other fruits, such as kiwi if desired), put it to a mould, and freeze it until it’s a set. Sweeten the dessert with honey or jaggery.
  • Chia Pudding with Dragon Fruit: The consistency of dragon fruit pudding is similar to that of a dragon fruit smoothie, but it is thicker and more pudding-like. The procedure of manufacturing it, on the other hand, is as simple and clear, requiring only 5 minutes. The pudding tastes best when served cold, so it is allowed to cool for 1 to 3 hours. Furthermore, this will allow the chia seeds to fully spread, providing users with all of the advantages associated with them.
  • Dragon fruit jelly: the ingredients that shall be required for preparing this jelly are 6 cups drinking water, 12 grams agar and 150 grams honey. The method in preparing this includes the following steps. First of all, washing, peeling off and cutting the dragon fruit into small pieces. After that one can taste a bit of the fruit and reduce the quantity of honey if too sweet. Adding water to the saucepan and whisking it is followed by adding pandan leaf and mixture until the agar is completely dissolved and the liquid is thoroughly cooked. After it is being heated, one can remove the pandan leaf. Add the water to a saucepan and whisk in the agar without lumps. Add the pandan leaf to the mixture and heat it until the agar is completely dissolved and the liquid is thoroughly cooked. Remove from the heat and discard the pandan leaf. Next, allowing it to cool somewhat before adding the honey It is not intended to cook the dragon fruit. After following the above mentioned steps, it is required to pour into moulds and place it in the refrigerator. It normally takes 30 minutes to an hour to set. Running a butter knife down the sides of the mould helps to release the jelly. Finally, if desired, one can top the jelly with a splash heavy cream.



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