Great Reasons to Add Dragon Fruit to Your Diet
Dragon fruit, also known as pitahaya or strawberry pear, is a tropical fruit known for its vibrant red skin and sweet, seed-speckled pulp.
Its unique look and acclaimed superfood powers have made it popular among foodies and the health-conscious.
Luckily, you don’t have to live in the tropics to enjoy the many benefits of dragon fruit. In fact, you can find it fresh or frozen in supermarkets worldwide.
Here are 3 health benefits of dragon fruit, all based on evidence.
1. High in Nutrients
Dragon fruit is low in calories but packed with essential vitamins and minerals. It also contains a substantial amount of dietary fiber.
Here’s a rundown of the main nutrients in a one-cup serving (227 grams) (1Trusted Source, 2)
Protein: 3 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrates: 29 grams
Fiber: 7 grams
Iron: 8% of the RDI
Magnesium: 18% of the RDI
Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 4% of the RDI
Beyond essential nutrients, dragon fruit supplies beneficial plant compounds like polyphenols, carotenoids and betacyanins (3Trusted Source)
2. May Help Fight Chronic Disease
Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause cell damage, which may lead to inflammation and disease.
One way to combat this is by eating antioxidant-rich foods like dragon fruit.
Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, thus preventing cell damage and inflammation.
Studies suggest that diets high in antioxidants may help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis.
Dragon fruit contains several types of potent antioxidants, including (5Trusted Source):
- Vitamin C: Observational studies have found correlations between vitamin C intake and cancer risk. For example, a study in 120,852 people associated higher intakes of vitamin C with lower rates of head and neck cancer (6Trusted Source).
- Betalains: Test-tube studies indicate betalains can combat oxidative stress and may have the ability to suppress cancer cells (7).
- Carotenoids: Beta-carotene and lycopene are the plant pigments that give dragon fruit its vibrant color. Diets rich in carotenoids have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease (8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Importantly, antioxidants work best when eaten naturally in food, rather than in pill form or as a supplement. In fact, antioxidant supplements may have harmful effects, and taking them without medical supervision is not recommended (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).
On the other hand, dragon fruit is highly recommended.
3. Strengthens Your Immune System
Your body’s ability to fight infection is determined by several different factors, including the quality of your diet.
The vitamin C and carotenoids in dragon fruit may boost your immune system and prevent infection by protecting your white blood cells from damage (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
The white blood cells in your immune system attack and destroy harmful substances. However, they are extremely sensitive to damage by free radicals (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
As potent antioxidants, vitamin C and carotenoids can neutralize free radicals and defend your white blood cells against harm.
Written by Makayla Meixner