What is dragon fruit: how to eat, benefits, and nutrition
Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Although it is mostly loved by people for its unique appearance and taste, evidence suggests that it may have some health benefits as well.
This article takes a look at dragon fruit, its nutrition, benefits, and how to eat it.
What is dragon fruit?
The dragon fruit grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Queen of Honolulu, whose flowers only open at night.
The plant is native to southern Mexico and Central America. Today it is cultivated all over the world.
It goes by many names, including pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear.
The two most common types have bright red skin with green scales that resemble a dragon, hence the name.
The most available variety has white pulp with black seeds, although there is also a less common type with red pulp and black seeds.
Another variety, known as the yellow dragon fruit, has yellow skin and white flesh with black seeds.
Dragon fruit may look exotic, but its flavors are similar to other fruits. Its flavor has been described as a slightly sweet cross between a kiwi and a pear.
Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit native to Mexico and Central America. Its flavor is like a combination of kiwi and pear.
How to eat dragon fruit?
Although it may sound intimidating, dragon fruit is very easy to eat.
Here’s how to eat dragon fruit:
Select a ripe fruit with an even bright red skin that yields slightly when pressed.
Use a sharp knife and cut the fruit directly, dividing it in half.
You can use a spoon to remove the fruit from the skin or peel the skin and cut the pulp into small pieces.
Dragon fruit serving ideas:
- Just cut it up and eat it as is.
- Cut it into small pieces and garnish it with Greek yogurt and chopped nuts.
- Include it in a salad.
Dragon fruit is easy to prepare and can be enjoyed on its own or combined with other foods in healthy recipes.
Dragon fruit contains small amounts of various nutrients. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and fiber.
Here are the nutritional values for a 3.5 ounce or 100-gram serving.
- Calories: 60
- Protein: 1.2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 13 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
- Vitamin C: 3% of the RDI
- Iron: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 10% of the RDI
Considering a large amount of fiber and magnesium, as well as the extremely low-calorie content, dragon fruit can be considered a very nutrient-dense fruit.
Dragon fruit is a low-calorie fruit that is high in fiber and provides a good amount of various vitamins and minerals.
What are the types:
There are different types of pitaya, each with a different taste and appearance, and the common types are as follows.
Yellow dragon fruit: white pulp and black seeds. It is known as the yellow pitaya.
White dragon fruit – Vibrant pink skin, white flesh and inside with black seeds It is known as White Pitaya
Red dragon fruit – Has a reddish-pink skin and red flesh, black seeds inside. He is known as Red Pitaya
What are the benefits of dragon fruit?
An interesting fact about this fruit is that the Chinese claim that it comes from the fire of a dragon during battle. Undermining the myth surrounding this fruit, there is something that makes it super healthy for us. Here is a list of 15 health benefits of consuming dragon fruit.
Reduces the risk of diabetes
This fruit contains high amounts of fiber which maintains blood sugar levels and prevents spikes in people with diabetes. Regular consumption of this fruit can help balance blood sugar levels and prevent other medical consequences in diabetics.
Related: Best Foods for Diabetes
Reduces the risk of cancer
This fruit contains anti-cancer properties which can reduce the risk of colon cancer. Its high source of vitamin C plays an important role in boosting the immune system. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that prevents you from contracting chronic diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, etc.
Helps to increase immunity
This fruit contains high levels of vitamin C which boosts immunity and helps you stay healthy. More vitamin C means your body can fight off deadly infections you may be prone to. All you need to do is consume 1 cup (200 grams) of this fruit every day and stay healthy.
Good for digestion
This fruit has a rich source of oligosaccharides (a carbohydrate) which helps in the growth of good bacteria such as flora, which aids digestion. It is packed with fiber which also promotes digestive health, helps reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Good for the heart
Red-pulped dragon fruit contains betalains (which creates a red color inside the fruit) which lower bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). The tiny, dark black seeds inside the fruit are rich in omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids which are good for the heart and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fight against skin aging
Faster aging can be due to stress, pollution, and other factors like poor diet, etc. However, it’s a rich source of antioxidants that can treat sunburns, dry skin, and acne. Its vitamin C content can help to have brighter skin. You can make dragon fruit juice and drink it once a day for glowing skin.
Related: How to get rid of acne at Home
Good for hair
Do you need thick, black, and shiny hair? Try powdered dragon fruit mixed with a glass of milk (250ml) once a day and it will do you good. The high source of nutrients in this fruit extract powder reduces damage to hair caused by artificial hair coloring and improves hair texture, leaving hair soft and shiny. All you have to do is consume it once a day and you will witness the changes.
Related: Benefits of Glycerin for Hair
Good bone health can contribute to many factors like avoiding injury, joint pain, etc. This superfruit contains 18% magnesium, which helps strengthen bones and maintain good bone health. All you need to do is drink a glass of dragon fruit smoothie every day.
Good for the eyes
This fruit contains beta-carotene (the pigment that gives the fruit its color) prevents eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. One cup (220 grams) of dragon fruit per day would do you good.
Good during pregnancy
This fruit contains vitamin B, folate, and iron, making it an ideal fruit for pregnant women. B vitamins and folic acid prevent birth defects and increase energy during pregnancy. Its calcium content is responsible for the bone development of the fetus. Its magnesium content helps fight against post-menopausal complications in women.
The bottom line
Dragon fruit is a low-calorie fruit that contains less sugar and fewer carbohydrates than many other tropical fruits.
It may offer some health benefits, but human studies are needed to verify it.
Overall, dragon fruit is unique, incredibly tasty, and can add variety to your diet.