The strawberry pear or pitahaya fruit is more commonly known as dragon fruit. With its red, vibrant skin and green curls, the fruit resembles dragon fire. Its interesting pulp texture is surprisingly sweet. Among the health-conscious and foodies, the tropical fruit is acclaimed for its uniqueness and potential "powers;" many consider it a superfood.
The popularity of the fruit has grown in recent years. It is now common to find fresh and frozen dragon fruit globally in grocery stores and fruit markets. While some of the interest in the fruit might be hype, there are several evidence-based benefits to eating the food.
Dragon fruit is among the most nutritious fruits on the planet. From plant compounds like carotenoids and betacyanins to a combination of nutrients and vital minerals, the plant is a nutritional powerhouse. An average single cup serving of dragon fruit contains:
- 136 Calories
- 0 Fat
- 3 Grams of protein
- 29 Grams of carbs
- 7 Grams of fiber
- 9% RDI of Vitamin C
- 4% RDI of Vitamin E
As an antioxidant-rich food, dragon fruit combats unstable molecules in the system, such as free radicals. Free radicals can lead to inflammation, cell damage, and disease. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.
Dragon fruit contains potent antioxidants, including vitamin C, carotenoids, and betalains. Vitamin C appears to reduce cancer risks. Carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, can reduce the chances of heart disease and some cancers. Finally, betalains may suppress cancerous cells and fight oxidative stress.
Dragon fruit is a fiber-rich fruit. Most health authorities recommend that adult women consume 25 grams of fiber and adult men consume 38 grams. Fiber is best consumed from whole food sources rather than supplements. Dragon fruit is an excellent source because it contains 7 grams in a single serving.
4. Gut Health
You have likely heard about probiotics and their importance to gut health and digestion. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that exist in the gut microbiome. In order to maintain a healthy balance of these organisms in the gut, you must help nourish or feed them.
Prebiotics are a form of fiber that acts as a food source for good gut bacteria, nourishing them and helping them grow. Dragon fruit is a rich source of prebiotics.
5. Immune Health
White blood cells are the body's warrior cells; these cells fight off infections and disease. Unfortunately, white blood cells are vulnerable to free radicals. Free radicals can damage the cells and disrupt the body's ability to stave off infections and illnesses.
The potent antioxidants, vitamin C and carotenoids, of dragon fruit neutralize free radicals. By neutralizing free radicals, dragon fruit essentially protects your system's white blood cells and boosts immune health.
It is not common for fresh fruits to contain iron, but dragon fruit contains 8% of your recommended daily intake. Between the presence of iron and vitamin C in dragon fruit, it is an excellent iron delivery system. Vitamin c helps your body absorb iron.
Nearly 30% of the population is iron deficient. As iron plays a crucial role in delivering oxygen through the system and transforming food into energy, it is vital you maintain appropriate iron levels in your diet.
Magnesium is a crucial element in your body, present in nearly every cell, and used in more than 600 chemical reactions throughout the body. A single dragon fruit serving contains 18% of your recommended daily intake.
Dragon fruit is an exotic and beneficial fruit. If you have never tried it, you should consider adding it to your diet.