I remember the first time I tried dragon fruit; it was from a fruit vendor in Parrys Corner, Chennai. First of all, I was thoroughly intrigued by its outer skin as it is shaped like a dragon egg thanks to Game of Thrones. It is a tropical fruit with bright pink-green skin that gained popularity in the last 4-5 years. It is grown all over the world today, but it is native to Central America and Southern Mexico. Dragon fruit is also called pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear, depending on your country. You might have seen the most popular kind, the one with white pulp speckled with black seeds. There are also two less common types, one with red pulp and black seeds and another with yellow skin and black seeds.
Health Benefits Of Eating Dragon Fruit!
So after reading all this, you might ask what does the dragon fruit taste like? I find it mildly sweet, like a cross between pear and kiwi. Since it comes from a cactus plant, you get a faint whiff of that as well, but it isn’t repulsive or nauseating, trust me. I find it quite refreshing to eat dragon fruit in a fruit bowl with other freshly cut, tropical fruits. Let’s find out if dragon fruit has any real health benefits or if this is just another fad.
Rich In Fiber: A fiber-rich diet is crucial for not only digestion, but it has other health benefits as well. It is recommended we consume around 38 grams for men and 25 grams of fiber per day for women every day. Unlike antioxidants supplements, taking fiber for supplements does not affect the body as eating whole fiber-rich foods. This is where our tropical fruit shines the brightest; a one-cup serving of dragon fruit contains a whopping 7 grams of fiber, making it a wonderful whole food. Fiber aids in digestion and protects against chronic illnesses like heart disease, and control type 2 diabetes. More research and studies are needed to suggest that a high fiber diet may protect against colon cancer. If you are used to a low-fiber diet, make sure you slowly up to your fiber intake to avoid stomach discomfort.
Loaded With Nutrients: Dragon fruit is densely packed with essential nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The antioxidants present in dragon fruit are flavonoids, phenolic acid, and betacyanin. These protect the cells against free radical damage, which could cause diseases like cancer and premature aging. This fruit also contains beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids, and betacyanins, which again has an array of health benefits. Did you know that Dragon fruit has a very low-calorie count? So if you are on a diet or are calorie conscious, you can have one without worrying.
Strengthens Immune System: Our body’s capability to fight off an infection is determined by a lot of different factors, but the main component is the quality of our diet. This is another area where dragon fruit comes to the rescue since the fruit is rich in vitamin C and carotenoids; it helps boost the immune system and prevent infections by protecting the white blood cells from getting damaged. The WBC present in our immune system attacks and destroys harmful organisms from entering the system, which causes us to fall sick. As powerful antioxidants, vitamin C and carotenoids help in neutralizing free radicals and defend white blood cells against any harm.
Good Source Of Iron: Not all fruits are made equal, and dragon fruit is one of the very few fresh fruits that contain a good amount of iron. Iron plays a vital role in transporting oxygen throughout the body. It also helps with other important bodily functions such as strengthening the immune system, regulating energy, body temperature, and keeping us focussed. It also helps in breaking down food into energy. If you are someone who does not get enough iron in your regular diet, consuming a variety of iron-rich foods such as meats, fish, legumes, nuts, and cereals is crucial. Dragon fruit is another great option, as one serving contains 8% of your recommended daily iron intake. It also contains vitamin C, which helps boost the body’s iron absorption.
Improves Gut Health: The human gut is complex, and its health affects the whole body and the way it functions. The human gut houses around 100 trillion diverse microorganisms, including more than 400 species of bacteria. Many research and studies have found that this community of microorganisms has a huge impact on our health. When there is an imbalance in the gut, several health conditions could arise, like heart disease and asthma. Dragon fruit contains prebiotics, which could potentially improve the development of good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics help reduces the inflammation caused by IBD, prevent colorectal cancer, relieve constipation, and lower cholesterol levels.
I love adding dragon fruit to my fruit bowl, morning smoothie, oatmeals. I read somewhere that you could also add it in salads, poke bowl, salsa, freeze and make ice-cream with it.
The Bottom Line – So, all in all, if you are looking for something to snack on that is packed with nutrients and also low in calories, then dragon fruit is one food you need to incorporate. If you see it next time you are shopping for fresh fruits, don’t forget to add this to your cart. I’m sure you will enjoy this fruit in different dishes when it is in season. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time, stay healthy!