Although the name ‘Dragon Fruit’ presents quite a peculiar combination of words, with the word ‘Dragon’ giving the idea of a horrifying creature and the word ‘Fruit’ classifying it as a food fit for human consumption, we cannot be more grateful for knowing the latter part of it.
This is because many people coming across this article will definitely be unfamiliar with
‘Dragon Fruit’ as it is not something that you often find on every grocery store that you visit.
What is a ‘Dragon Fruit’?
A ‘Dragon Fruit’, also known by the name of pitahaya or pitaya or strawberry pear, is a tropical fruit, native to Mexico and Central America, particularly the Caribbean region.
Aside from being known in its native regions, the ‘Dragon Fruit’ is also cultivated in Australia, India and Vietnam where its extensive cultivation makes it a popular choice among the Southeast Asian people.
The name is particularly derived from the way the ‘Dragon Fruit’ looks on the outside which comprise of a leather type skin and scaly spikes like those on any other cactus plant.
Its skin or outer layer is of dark pink or red color with green color pointed scales or spikes.
The interior is usually a white color pulp with lots of tiny black seeds much similar to the Kiwi fruit, all of which can be eaten as well.
Other color variants of the Dragon Fruit are available with either red color pulp or purple color pulp. Quite rare you will see a yellow skinned Dragon Fruit.
Its skin is not edible and only the inside pulp of it can be eaten, even with a spoon as the plant is usually sliced between two halves from the center, just like a watermelon.
As for its sweet taste, many people describe its taste as somewhere a mix between a pear and a kiwi, or a kiwi and a watermelon.
10 Surprising health benefits related to ‘Dragon Fruit’ that you didn’t know about and which will make you add it to your daily diet
Until now, not knowing that anything as wonderful as a Dragon Fruit existed and that too with so many health benefits, might be the reason why this tropical gem hasn’t been a part of your grocery list.
However, we are sure that after reading the following health benefits that the Dragon Fruit offers, you will certainly add it to your compulsory daily diet plan.
And do not worry about not finding this fruit in your nearest supermarket just because of the fact that it is tropical.
This is because although the life of a Dragon Fruit is estimated to be a good one week, if left under normal conditions and without any special care, the ones shipped to the non-tropical regions are frozen.
Due to this, the useful shelf life of a Dragon Fruit can be increased, making it last for about 4 to 6 weeks easily.
So while buying a frozen Dragon Fruit from a store in a non-tropical region, just make sure that it is from the most recent and fresh stock shipment available.
1. The nutritional benefits chart
Dragon fruit is known for being a complete package of several essential minerals and vitamins, although its calorie measure is low.
A breakdown of these essential vitamins and minerals that you get from consuming a single cup size serving of a Dragon Fruit i.e. an equivalent of 225 to 227 grams approx. will benefit your body with –
- Protein – 3 grams
- Carbohydrates – 29 grams
- Iron – 8 percent of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake)
- Vitamin C – 9 percent of the RDI
- Vitamin E – 4 percent of the RDI
- Calories – 136 kcals
- Fats – 7 grams
- Fiber – 7 grams
- Magnesium – 18 percent of RDI
2. Helps in controlling weight
The Dragon Fruit also contains a large amount of dietary fiber that is essential for keeping your body weight under control.
The digestive enzymes in a human stomach aren’t able to digest or absorb the dietary fiber.
Rather, dietary fiber acts as an element to add weight to your diet, making you feel full even when you are not, thus helping in keeping a control over excess eating habits and eventually controlling your body’s weight.
3. Source of beneficial plant compounds
The Dragon Fruit is also a rich source of many beneficial plant compounds such as –
- Carotenoids – (which act as a type of antioxidant for the human body);
- Betacyanins – (which support the pharmacological activities such as in the form of being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer, etc.); and
- Polyphenols – (which are highly effective in treating digestive issues, diabetes, weight management difficulties, and cardiovascular diseases as well).
4. Enhances the health of your gut
Among many other microorganisms that are present in your gut, it also includes around 400 species of bacteria.
Studies related to the human gut have found that any imbalance in the ratio of microorganisms living in a human gut can cause significant health implications such as heart disease and asthma.
The Dragon Fruit is a source of a type of fiber known as prebiotics, which supports the growth of healthy bacteria in the human gut.
While the human gut cannot digest and absorb the fiber elements, the bacteria in the gut can. This helps in their growth which subsequently benefits a human gut’s health on the overall basis.
5. Makes human immune system stronger
As already mentioned in the above nutritional benefits chart of the Dragon Fruit, it is also a rich source of vitamin C, with a single cup serving size amounting to 9 percent of the RDI.
Vitamin C is a very well-known source of promoting the human immune system and preventing any infections by protecting white blood cells in the human blood from getting damaged.
The purpose of white blood cells in the human blood is to enhance the immunity of the human body in fighting against destructive and harmful substances.
6. Causes an increase in your body’s iron levels
Just like the support that iron gives to mega structures in the field of construction, iron has a key responsibility in the human body as well.
Iron helps in the breakdown and transforming of food that you consume into energy.
In addition to this, it also helps in regularizing the transportation of oxygen throughout the human body.
Any reduction in the essential levels of iron in your body could highly affect these functions.
With a single cup serving of the Dragon Fruit constituting approximately 9 percent of the reference daily intake (RDI), including dragon fruit in your diet can greatly help in maintaining the iron needs of your body.
7. Rich source of fiber
Fiber is one of those substances that although being effective in many ways to the human body, is still unable to be digested or absorbed by it.
So aside from being an important component in helping maintain your body’s weight by promoting a feel of being full upon consuming it, few researchers have found other benefits of fiber to the human body as well.
Such as helping in managing the type 2 of diabetes, safeguarding against heart diseases and also acting as a protecting agent against colon cancer.
But a critical point to note here is that due to the very nature of the fiber as being a non-digestive and non-absorbable element in the human digestive system, diets that are rich in fiber, such as eating more than the recommended amount of a dragon fruit, could result in issues related with the proper functioning of your stomach.
Thus, if your diet includes high fiber food, make sure to complement your increased fiber intake with drinking plenty of water and other liquids as well.
8. Is a natural source of antioxidants
Although your body’s need for antioxidants can be fulfilled by taking supplements or tablets, studies have found that antioxidants taken this way are less helpful in serving their purpose in the best manner to your body.
Therefore, medical experts recommend taking in the antioxidants in the most efficient i.e. the natural manner such as by eating antioxidant rich foods like dragon fruit.
It is worthy to be mentioned here that people who take non-prescribed supplements to fulfill their body’s antioxidant needs, often face harmful side effects.
On the other hand, eating dragon fruit with other food and meals as a regular and normal diet plan does not give rise to any injurious events in your body.
Natural intakes of diets that are rich in antioxidants have been found to be effective against chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
9. Fulfills your body’s need for magnesium
Your body also needs the right amount of magnesium as well, an element that despite being present in very less amount in your entire body, is present in every individual cell of your blood.
This means that it is continuously flowing with the blood throughout your body and is important for the proper functioning of the cells.
This continuous act of reaching every portion of your body is actually helping in performing nearly 600 critical nature reactions inside your body.
One cup serving of dragon fruit provides your body with 18 percent of the reference daily intake (RDI) of magnesium.
Magnesium helps in supporting your bone health, muscle contraction, formation of bones, and the reactions that involve breaking down of the food you eat and transforming it into the necessary source of energy for your body.
10. Contains low cholesterol
While carbohydrates are a human body’s main source of energy, its excess intake through any means is not good or recommended for a human body.
The carbohydrate, saturated and trans fats level of the dragon fruit is also very low due to which its regular consumption as part of your daily diet plan is refreshing as well as a great help in the long run in keeping your heart healthy, fit and free from any kind of risks related with heart diseases.
In addition to all of the above, regular intake of the dragon fruit also helps in the overall well-being of your body as the kiwi like black seeds in the pulp of the dragon fruit are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Ways to eat dragon fruit and make it part of your daily diet plan
Like almost any other type of fruit, dragon fruits can also be eaten raw in various ways or turned into quick recipes to double the taste and health benefit that it offers.
1. Eating raw or drinking its juice
After slicing the dragon fruit into two parts, you can easily carve out small cubes with a knife or round shaped balls with an ice cream spatula.
Then you can either eat it in the raw form alone or make it part of a mixed fruit salad with a cream or yogurt topping.
You can also extract its juice and drink it in the morning or with any meal time you want.
2. Dragon fruit smoothie
This dragon fruit smoothie recipe combines our main ingredient i.e. dragon fruit with banana and mango to bring a more nutritionally rich and healthy smoothie drink to your dining table.
The total preparation time is only 5 minutes so it is also a great time saver and the quantity mentioned is good enough to make a twin serving.
- Dragon fruit – frozen 1 cup in cubed shape
- Mango – Same as dragon fruit
- Bananas – 2 frozen and cut into quarter size
- Almond milk – 3 quarters of a cup
- Lime juice – 2 tablespoons
- Protein powder – Half scoop
- Ice cubes – Preferably 2 to 4 but still depending on how thick you want the smoothie to be
- Add all the ingredients to a blender except for the almond milk and blend until everything mixes and turns into a smooth mixture.
- To thin the texture of the smoothie, add almond milk in the end as needed.
3. Dragon fruit jam
Making a dragon fruit jam at home is not only nutritious but will also add more purpose to having a complete breakfast especially if you have the habit of avoiding it due to the morning chores.
The entire process of making a dragon fruit jam through this recipe will only take approximately 2 hours of your weekend time.
- Dragon fruit – 6 whole units
- Lemons – 2 units
- White sugar – 2 cups
- Cut all the dragon fruits into halves and remove all the pulp from the inside.
- Once collected in a pot or a bowl, mash it with some kitchen utensil such as a potato masher.
- Now squeeze both the lemons and add their juice to the mashed dragon fruit pulp.
- Put the pot onto a normal flame and stir it as needed until it reaches its boiling level.
- At this point, lower the flame level so that it can be simmered until it becomes thick.
- Add sugar now and continue the boiling process until it forms a gel type substance, just like any ready to eat jam.
- Let it cool and fill a glass jar and store it at a cool and dry place.
- Your jam is ready now for a perfect breakfast treat every morning.
With 10 health benefits to obtain and 3 easy ways of doing it, dragon fruit should now be a certain part of your daily diet plan.