The great thing about the world we live in is that we have access to a wide range of delicious, beneficial natural foods from across the globe. One of the less common fruits that’s only now revealing proven health benefits is dragon fruit.
Otherwise known as a pitahaya, dragon fruit is a tropical fruit found on several different indigenous American cactus species. The unique appearance is what draws most people to dragon fruit – it has a bright pink skin and a clear white, seed-dotted flesh. But visuals aside, dragon fruit is also incredibly good for your health.
In this video, we’re going to take a closer look at the benefits of dragon fruit. Like the majority of health foods, dragon fruit can also cause side effects, which we’ll also be discussing.
Benefits of dragon fruit
1. Can lower cholesterol and promote weight loss
Dragon fruit is extremely low in cholesterol, saturated fats and trans fats. Regular consumption of the fruit can help you to maintain a healthy heart in the long run.
If you’re looking to lose weight healthily and naturally, it’s worth including dragon fruit in your diet. This is because it’s low in calories but packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
Dragon fruit’s high quantity of omega-3 fatty acids will help you stay fuller for longer, making you less likely to reach for an unhealthy mid-afternoon snack before dinner. The exotic fruit is also rich in fibre, which stabilises blood sugar levels, preventing cravings.
2. Good source of vitamin C
The vitamin C content in dragon fruit has been found to boost your immune system and prevent infection by protecting your white blood cells from damage. As an antioxidant, vitamin C also fights free radicals in the body, which experts say can prevent or delay certain cancers and heart disease, as well as promoting healthy aging.
Vitamin C’s benefits are endless. It can also assist in the absorption of iron, which we need for producing haemoglobin in red blood cells, helping oxygen to travel around the body. Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, which makes our teeth healthier, as well as promoting healthy and glowing skin.
3. Natural skincare properties
Traditionally, dragon fruit was used as a herbal beauty treatment for the face. Nowadays, we can use it as a natural skincare remedy in the knowledge that it contains a high antioxidant and vitamin content.
This prevents skin damage and can even reduce the risk of skin cancer. A simple natural remedy to try out for your skin is to make a paste out of dragon fruit flesh and apply it regularly on the face, which is thought to help slow down the process of ageing, making you look younger.
Dragon fruit paste is also used in treating acne and sunburn. For something a little fancier, try combining dragon fruit with cucumber juice and honey to create an aloe vera-like compound that can soothe burned skin.
Thanks to its high content of vitamin B3, dragon fruit can moisturize sunburned skin and relieve the affected area by releasing heat.
4. Promotes gut health
Because dragon fruit contains prebiotics, it can potentially improve the balance of good bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are carbohydrates your body can't digest, so they pass to your lower digestive tract, where they act like fertilizers to help the healthy bacteria grow. Without prebiotics, good bacteria in your gut would suffer.
Aside from feeding your good gut bacteria, prebiotics can help you to absorb calcium, prevent blood sugar spikes from food, and ferment foods faster, so that they spend less time in your digestive system and help you stay regular. Generally, dragon fruit can keep the cells that line your gut healthy.
Some studies even suggest that prebiotics like dragon fruit can help manage gut diseases and play an active role in controlling and preventing obesity.
5. Aids in digestion
Dragon fruits are rich in oligosaccharides, a type of prebiotic that helps promote the growth of gut bacteria that we need for smooth digestion. The healthier your gut, the better your digestion – and consuming dragon fruit as part of your daily diet is a simple way to encourage this.
Dragon fruits are also high in fibre, which means that they can help to bulk up bowel movements, promoting the movement of material and encouraging a smoother passage through the digestive tract. By regulating bowel function with dietary fibre, you’ll be able to use dragon fruit to prevent common digestive conditions like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.
6. Anti-cancer potential
Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants, which protect cells from damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals, which are linked to certain cancers. One study found that dragon fruit shows promise in fighting breast cancer in particular, by acting on selective breast cancer cells and killing them. The study proved the need for more research into the anti-breast cancer benefits of dragon fruit.
The presence of oligosaccharides in dragon fruit are also beneficial in not just gut health, but in fighting against colon cancer, according to another recent study. These oligosaccharides have a prebiotic effect in the digestive system, which may reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Again, more research is needed before we can understand the exact anti-colon cancer properties of dragon fruit.
- Wilderness Poets Freeze Dried Dragon Fruit Powder (Pitahaya) - 3.5 oz
- Ingredients: Freeze Dried Dragon Fruit
- Non-Gmo, Gluten Free, Raw, Vegan, No added Sugar or Salt
- Dragon Fruit Powder is a Superfood Packed with Antioxidants, Fiber, Vitamin C and B
- WHOLE PITAYA | Our pink pitaya powder is the entire dried red dragon fruit, gently processed into a shelf stable powder. You get the full spectrum of nutrients with the added convenience of powder on the go!
- BENEFITS | Pitaya / Dragon fruit is loaded with antioxidants!
- INDEPENDENTLY TESTED | We test our pink pitaya powder at a respected independent lab for lead, arsenic and other heavy metals. Passes all FDA & World Health Organization Requirements
- PITAYA is an oddly shaped fruit with a delicious umami flavor. Our pitaya powder blends well into smoothies, tea lattes, and anything you can imagine!
- Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Freeze-Dried Pitaya Powder (Dragon Fruit), 3.5 Oz Pouch
- Certified Organic, Non-GMO, Earth Kosher, Raw, Gluten-Free, Vegan
- Pitaya Dragon Fruit Powder is loaded with Antioxidants, Fiber, Vitamin C and B
- Terrasoul Superfoods sources the freshest and highest quality superfoods from all over the planet. Our mission is to make these amazing, healthy foods available to you at the lowest prices possible while paying our growers and employees fair wages.
- ORGANIC AND 100% FRUIT: Pitaya Plus uses only 100% USDA and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic Red Dragon Fruit. Utilizing the fruit and seeds, this unique superfood is freeze-dried then finely ground to create a blendable powder.
- VITAMIN RICH AND NUTRIENT DENSE: Full of fiber, potassium, and magnesium as well as antioxidants, and vitamin C, adding Dragon Fruit to your diet has been shown to help support digestion, strengthens the immune system and increase energy.
- SUSTAINABLY SOURCED, NON-GMO AND KOSHER: Sourced from small farms and processed in solar-powered facilities, our Dragon Fruit is certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Vegan, Kosher, Gluten and Dairy Free.
- CREATE VIBRANTLY PINK RECIPES: Grown in rich, nutrient dense soil provides our Dragon Fruit with its vibrant pink color. Add this powder to smoothies, smoothie bowls, agua fresca, chia pudding and much, much more.
7. Controls diabetes
Regular consumption of dragon fruit is linked to a reduction in blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for type 2 diabetics and people with pre-diabetes. It’s thought that this is because dragon fruit works to replace damaged cells in the pancreas that make insulin – the hormone that helps your body break down sugar.
One recent study found that pre-diabetics who ate dragon fruit showed a noticeable reduction in blood sugar levels when compared to people who hadn’t eaten dragon fruit. Those who ate a higher quantity of dragon fruit showed an even greater blood glucose reduction.
8. Maintains hair health
Dragon fruit isn’t just healthy for your organs – it’s also been found to have beneficial properties for the hair. Adding dragon fruit or dragon fruit extract powder to your daily diet should help you to maintain healthy and nourished hair.
Dragon fruit contains a wealth of nutrients that can reduce the damage done to hair by the chemicals present in artificial hair colour. It also helps improve the texture and brings back the shine to your hair.
A simple home remedy for hair health involves applying dragon fruit juice directly to your scalp to protect your chemically treated or coloured hair. This will keep the hair follicles open, allowing your hair to breathe and remain healthy and smooth.
9. Prevents eye degeneration
Dragon fruit is known to inhibit the growth of a protein called human cytochrome P450, which is found in the liver. This protein is often linked with congenital glaucoma, which occurs in babies and young children and is caused by incorrect development of the eye's drainage system before birth.
It’s also thought that the beta-carotene content in dragon fruit helps to prevent macular degeneration and cataract formation, or the clouding of the eye’s natural lens, by keeping the eyes protected from harmful free radicals. Beta-carotene maintains long-term eye health by keeping the surface of the eye, or the cornea, moist and healthy.
10. Ideal for healthy pregnancies
Dragon fruit is beneficial for pregnant women as it contains iron, B vitamins, and folate. The experts have found that iron can effectively prevent haemoglobin deficiency, as well as reduce the risk of anaemia. The B vitamins and folate help prevent birth defects, relieve some symptoms of pregnancy, and boost energy levels.
Because dragon fruit has mild laxative properties, it can be used to treat constipation, a common occurrence in pregnant women. It’s thought that the calcium content in dragon fruit assists the foetus’ bone development, contributing to a healthy pregnancy.
Dragon fruit’s high levels of calcium and magnesium also help fight osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Magnesium may even prevent the uterus from contracting too early.
11. Heart healthy properties
Dragon fruit is a good source of flavonoids, which are antioxidant pigments that have a positive impact on heart health. Flavonoids may protect against certain types of cancer, ease the symptoms of arthritis and reduce the risk of developing disorders like Parkinson's disease or dementia.
Dragon fruit with red pulp is particularly high in betalains, which give the fruit its vibrant colour, and can reduce bad cholesterol levels. The fruit’s edible seeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-9 fats, which reduce the inflammation that can cause damage to your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes.
Dragon fruit side effects
There aren’t many side effects of dragon fruit to be aware of, but in rarer cases, you might experience an allergic reaction to the fruit. Signs of an allergy may include swelling of your mouth, lips or tongue, a tingling or itching sensation, difficulty breathing, and nausea or sickness.
If you experience any of these symptoms after eating dragon fruit, don’t eat any more, and visit your doctor if symptoms worsen.
Dragon fruit recipe ideas
Dragon fruit is a sweet fruit, so it makes sense to use it as an ingredient for sweet, healthy meals and snacks.
One popular use of dragon fruit is to blend it into a fruit smoothie or juice. The dragon fruit gives smoothies a bright pink colour that makes it a popular ingredient for aesthetic purposes alone. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also use dragon fruit to make a sweet sorbet, yogurt or ice cream, or even add it to a homemade sangria.
Some people enjoy the taste and texture of dragon fruit in their salads. It’s also supposed to make a good pairing for some meats and seafood, including chicken and scallops. You can find a whole host of dragon fruit recipes online if you want to experiment with the fruit in different ways.
You’ll be able to buy dragon fruit from your local fruit and veg market or supermarket when the fruit is in season. More commonly, though, you’ll find the dragon fruit in frozen or freeze-dried form. If your local area doesn’t currently sell dragon fruit, you’ll be happy to know that it’s becoming a more and more popular crop around America.
Dragon fruit is refreshing and subtle in taste, with a soft, mild texture. Some people say it tastes like a cross between a kiwi and a pear.
There are some differences in taste, depending on the colouring of the variety. You should enjoy the dragon fruit flavour, but if not, you might prefer it when blended into a mixed fruit juice or as a freeze-dried snack. You can also buy Dragon Fruit powder here.
However you plan to eat your dragon fruit, including it as a daily diet staple will help you to live a much healthier and happier life. If you’re yet to give the fruit a go, it’s time you tried it out! Its generous nutritious profile makes up for its slightly higher cost, and it’s looking likely that the fruit will only continue to grow in popularity over the coming years.