What is dragon fruit?
The dragon fruit grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Queen of Honolulu. Its flowers only bloom at night. The plant is native to southern Mexico and Central America. Today, it is grown all over the world. There are many names, including dragon fruit, dragon fruit and strawberry pear. The two most common species have bright red bark and green dragon-like scales, hence the name. The most common varieties are white pulp and black seeds, although less common; there are also varieties with red pulp and black seeds. Another variety called yellow pitaya has yellow skin and white flesh with black seeds. Pitaya may look strange, but its taste is the same as other fruits. It is described as a slightly sweet hybrid between kiwi and pear.
Dragon fruit contains a small number of various nutrients. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium and fibre.
The following is the nutritional information for a 100g serving
|Dietary fibre||3 grams|
|Vitamin C||3% of RDI|
|Iron||4% of RDI|
|Magnesium||10% of RDI|
Due to the high ratio of fibre and magnesium and extremely low-calorie content, dragon fruit can be considered a very nutritious fruit.
Contains different antioxidants
Dragon fruit contains different types of antioxidants. These compounds can protect cells from unstable molecules called free radicals, which can cause chronic diseases and ageing.
Antioxidants contained in dragon fruit pulp
- Betaine : These red pigments are contained in the pulp of red dragon fruit and have been shown to protect the “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidation or damage.
- Hydroxycinnamate : This group of compounds has shown anticancer effects in in vitro and animal studies.
- Flavonoids : This large and diverse group of antioxidants is related to improving brain health and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Potential Health Benefits
Animal studies have shown that dragon fruit can provide a variety of health benefits, many of which may be related to its fibre and antioxidant content. Red and white dragon fruit have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and fatty liver in overweight mice.
In one study, mice on a high-fat diet given fruit extracts gained less weight, decreased liver fat, insulin resistance, and inflammation, partly due to favourable changes in blood pressure and gut bacteria.
Dragon fruit prebiotic fibre, which can promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract, thereby improving metabolism. Although this fruit can improve certain properties of metabolic syndrome, which is a disease associated with type 2 diabetes, not all effects are beneficial. In mice fed a high-fat and carbohydrate diet, the fire dragon juice group responded better to blood sugar, some liver enzyme markers decreased, while another liver enzyme marker increased significantly.
In another study, compared with the control group in diabetic rats treated with fruit extracts, malondialdehyde (a marker of free radical damage) was reduced by 35% and arterial stiffness was reduced. Human type 2 diabetes is unstable and more research is needed to confirm these beneficial effect.
In general, dragon fruit appears to be harmless; however, in some rare cases, allergic reactions may occur. In two cases, women without food allergies developed allergic reactions after eating a fruit mixture containing dragon fruit. They have antibodies against dragon fruit in their blood. These are the only two allergic reactions reported so far, but others may be allergic to this fruit without their knowledge.
How to Eat It
Dragon fruit is easy to eat. Here’s how to eat dragon fruit:
- Choose ripe fruit with smooth, bright red skin and a little elastic when pressed.
- Use a sharp knife. slicing it in half.
- You can eat the fruit from the skin with a spoon or peel the pulp and cut it into small pieces.
Ideas for serving dragon fruit:
- Cut into thin slices and sprinkle with yogurt and chopped nuts.
- Add it to your salad.
Dragon fruit is a low-calorie fruit. Compared with many other tropical fruits, it has lower sugar and carbohydrate content. It may provide health benefits. In general, dragon fruit is unique, very delicious, and can add variety to your diet.