7 Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

The dragon fruit goes by many names. It’s known as pitahaya or sometimes the strawberry pear. It is extremely popular and is eaten mostly because of its unique look and color, somewhat resembling the fictional “eggs” of a dragon, if dragons ever laid eggs, or if dragons ever existed. (Meixner, 2018)

Evident to its name, the dragon fruit seems to have come from magic land because the flowers of the dragon cactus plant only blooms once, and it occurs overnight. The blooming starts at dusk, and reaches its peak at around midnight. (Yanos, 2011)

The fruit is native to the Americas, but is now grown all over the world, especially to tropical countries. The fruit’s texture is somewhat similar to a pear, thus the name “strawberry pear”, but the pulpy inside is speckled in seeds. The outside texture is smooth and silky. (Dragon Fruit)

Another magical thing about the dragon fruit is the health benefits that are frequently overlooked because of the mystery surrounding this fruit. Let’s dive on the uncover the various health benefits that you can get from eating the dragon fruit. 

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1. Dragon fruit is packed with nutrients

As with any fruit, the dragon fruit contains lots of nutrients. A one cupful serving of dragon fruit (227 grams) contains only 136 calories. It also contains 3 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 8% or the recommended daily intake (RDI) for iron, 18% of the RDI for magnesium, 9% of the RDI for vitamin C and 4% of the RDI for vitamin E. (Full Report (All Nutrients): 45291867, DRAGON FRUIT BITE SIZE FRUIT CUBES, UPC: 853687004058, 2018)

Aside from these essential nutrients, dragon fruit has extra phytonutrients (plant nutrients) that are beneficial to the body: such as, polyphenols, carotenoids and betacyanins. (Kim H, 2011)

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2. Dragon fruit combats chronic diseases

Free radicals are uncharged molecules in the body that cause oxidative stress to the cells that has been implicated to be linked with chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease), diabetes and inflammatory conditions. (Kalam, 2015)

Thankfully, dragon fruits are rich in antioxidants. These are specifically the antioxidants betacyanins and betaxanthins. These compounds help neutralize the free radicals that are present in the body, so as to prevent cell damage. (Nall, 2019)

Additionally, a paper published in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences has concluded that the antioxidant activity in dragon fruit helps prevent the development of inflammatory diseases such as gout and arthritis. (Shinde Mayuri S. Aher Smita S., 2018)

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3. Dragon fruit helps promote a healthy digestive system 

Dietary fiber is important in keeping the digestive system healthy. It is the main fuel that the colon runs on. It also ensures a healthy digestive tract flow as fiber promotes soft and regular bowel movements. Fiber is also beneficial to those suffering from constipation and diarrhea as when good bacteria digests fiber, it produces healthy ingredients that are needed by the colon to produce fatty-chain acids. (Editors, 2019)

Luckily, dragon fruit contains 7 grams of fiber for one cup, which makes it a good source of fiber. By eating at least a few cups every day, along with other sources of fiber, you can achieve your daily fiber goal intake. (Meixner, 2018)

4. Dragon fruit promotes a healthy stomach 

In the topic of dragon fruit promoting a healthy digestive system, it specifically keeps your stomach healthy. The stomach is home to 100 trillion diverse microorganisms, including 400 species of bacteria. Bacteria is not always bad. In fact, we actually need good bacteria in our body to perform certain essential functions. (Jacoline Gerritsen, 2011)

An imbalance in the good and bad bacteria has been linked to diseases that affect the health of not only humans, but even animals, causing diseases such as asthma and heart disease. (S.Wichienchota, 2010)

The good news is that dragon fruit contains prebiotics, which stimulate the multiplication of good bacteria in your gut. In particular, dragon fruit promotes the growth of lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. (Meixner, 2018)

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5. Dragon fruit strengthens the immune system 

The main function of the immune system is to keep the body from harm’s way, shielding and protecting it from viruses, infections and pathogens. When foreign harmful substances enter the body, the immune system take action through a series of activities called the immune response. (Immune System)

The vitamin C and carotenoids that are present in the dragon fruit helps boost the immune system and fight off infections by protecting the white blood cells (the main soldiers of the body) from damage. (Meixner, 2018)

 

6. Dragon fruit promotes a high iron level 

A deficiency in iron may be caused by a lack of iron intake due to a poor diet, increased requirements during pregnancy, restrictive diets or inflammatory bowel disease. Iron deficiency may lead to lower red blood cell levels in the body. Red blood cells are especially important in transporting oxygen to the different parts of the body. Oxygen is the main currency of the cells. This may lead to iron deficiency anemia, and other types of anemia. (Brown, 2017)

Interestingly, dragon fruit is one of the few fresh fruits that contain iron. A one-cup serving of raw and chopped dragon fruit already fulfills 8% of the recommended daily intake of iron. Moreover, dragon fruit is also rich in vitamin C, which is a vitamin that makes the absorption of iron fairly easy. (Nazanin Abbaspour, 2014)

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7. Dragon fruit is high in magnesium

Magnesium has a lot of health benefits to the body. It promotes a healthy bone healthy as it stimulates denser bones and is needed in bone production. Moreover, it aids in calcium absorption. Calcium is another important nutrient for healthy bones. Aside from being helpful to the skeletal system, magnesium is also good for those suffering from diabetes and their premenstrual syndrome. (Ware, 2017)

The good thing is that dragon fruit is high in magnesium. A one cup serving of dragon fruit already corresponds to 18% of the RDI for magnesium. 

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References:

Brown, M. J. (2017, August 12). 10 Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/iron-deficiency-signs-symptoms

Dragon Fruit. (n.d.). Retrieved from O’ahu Fresh: http://www.oahufresh.com/ingredient/dragon-fruit/

Editors, E. H. (2019, June 6). Why Is Fiber Important for Your Digestive Health? Retrieved from Everyday Health: https://www.google.com/search?q=fiber+and+digestive+system&rlz=1C1CHBD_enPH786PH786&oq=fiber+and+digestive+system&aqs=chrome..69i57j0.3246j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Full Report (All Nutrients): 45291867, DRAGON FRUIT BITE SIZE FRUIT CUBES, UPC: 853687004058. (2018, May 2). Retrieved from Food Data Central: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/45291867

Immune System. (n.d.). Retrieved from Kids Health: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/immune.html

Jacoline Gerritsen, H. S. (2011, August). Intestinal microbiota in human health and disease: the impact of probiotics. Retrieved from NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3145058/

Kalam, S. (2015). Free Radicals: Implications in Etiology of Chronic Diseases and Their Amelioration through Nutraceuticals. Retrieved from Pharmacologia: https://pharmacologia.com/fulltext/?doi=pharmacologia.2015.11.20

Kim H, C. H. (2011, January). Comparative antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of red and white pitayas and their correlation with flavonoid and polyphenol content. Retrieved from PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21535651

Meixner, M. (2018, May 23). 7 Great Reasons to Add Dragon Fruit to Your Diet. Retrieved from Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/dragon-fruit-benefits

Nall, R. (2019, March 8). What are the proven benefits of dragon fruit? Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324655.php

Nazanin Abbaspour, R. H. (2014, February). Review on iron and its importance for human health. Retrieved from NCBI: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3999603/

S.Wichienchota, M. R. (2010, June 1). Oligosaccharides of pitaya (dragon fruit) flesh and their prebiotic properties. Retrieved from Science Direct: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814609013181

Shinde Mayuri S. Aher Smita S., S. R. (2018, March 19). DRAGON FRUIT AS A NUTRACEUTICALS. Retrieved from World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: https://www.wjpps.com/admin/assets/article_issue/1522486769.pdf

Ware, M. (2017, December 20). Why do we need magnesium? Retrieved from Medical News Today: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/286839.php

Yanos, A. (2011, July 18). Dragon fruit flower blooming. Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7if0iLH71E0

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