Hylocereus cactus, also called Honolulu queen, is a plant native to Central America and Southern Mexico. It’s better known as the “dragon fruit.”
Many are unaware of the benefits of dragon fruit, other than the sweet and creamy texture with little seeds that can almost be compared to a kiwi. Dragon fruit is also known as pitaya or strawberry pear. It’s a beautiful bright red colored fruit with green scales – resembling a dragon. It is rich in nutrients and delicious in taste.
12 Incredible Dragon Fruit Benefits
Here is a list of 12 healthy benefits of dragon many don’t know about.
1. Excellent Munching Snack
The cholesterol level in dragon fruit is within safe limits which makes it an excellent munching snack. Not only that, but it is also rich in fibers, which means you can snack on it without feeling guilty at all.
Fiber-rich foods make you feel full because our bodies cannot digest fibers right away. They stay longer in the stomach and make you feel fuller for a longer duration. Thus, dragon fruit satisfies your appetite for a long time and also provides healthy nutrients to the body.
2. Filled with Antioxidants
Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants, especially betacyanins and betaxanthins. Not only the pulp, but its skin also harbors different antioxidants.
Free radicals are substances that lead to cell damage. Antioxidants have the ability to neutralize free radicals. Neutralized free radicals cannot harm the body.
Taking antioxidants daily offers many benefits to the body including lowering the risk of different cancers and heart disease. It is one of the most efficient ways to keep yourself healthy in a long run.
3. Beneficial in Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
People who have diabetes need to keep a check on the food they consume. Everything they eat affects their bodies directly. Thus, they need to eat with care.
Dragon fruit has shown promising results in controlling blood glucose levels in pre-diabetic and type 2 diabetes patients, according to a meta-analysis. Dragon fruit may lead to the growth of the pancreatic cells that are involved in insulin production; therefore, it controls elevated blood sugar levels. Insulin is the chemical in the body that keeps blood sugar levels in control so the body can work in the most balanced state.
Further, it was stated that the more dragon fruit consumption is, the better blood sugar control will be.
4. Good Source of Minerals and Vitamins
Dragon fruit is rich in nutrients. It’s a good source of carbs as well as essential minerals and vitamins. In minerals, it contains a good amount of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. It contains calcium and copper as well in little quantities.
Being rich in magnesium means it lowers the risk of heart diseases and stroke. Also, it makes it better for the body to do day-to-day tasks more efficiently as magnesium is needed by the body in carrying out many functions.
As for vitamins, it is a rich source of vitamin A and vitamin C. There are traces of other vitamins as well. Not only delicious, but this fruit is nutritious as well.
5. A Balanced Iron Provider
Among the different dragon fruit benefits, being rich in iron and alongside vitamin C makes it an excellent fruit to consume during iron deficiency. It is found to be effective in increasing red blood cell levels and hemoglobin in the body. Hemoglobin is a blood component that is known to carry oxygen from one part of the body to another. More oxygen means all the body parts can work more efficiently and remain healthy.
One serving of this fruit fulfills over 8 percent of the daily iron requirements. Additionally, having vitamin C aids in absorbing iron into the body. Therefore, it works like a complete package to boost iron levels in the body.
6. Healthy for Gut
Prebiotics are special fibers naturally found in dragon fruit. These healthy fibers work as fuel for gut bacteria. Naturally, the human gut cannot break down these fibers. Mainly, the prebiotics in dragon fruit improves the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in your tummy.
Taking prebiotics on a regular basis decreases the chance of digestive tract infections. It naturally increases the growth of good bacteria in the gut which fights back the diseases on its own including diarrhea.
The research on prebiotics present in dragon fruit is ongoing. However, the initial testing shows positive effects on the human gut and it is assumed safe to consume even during gut infections.
7. Heart Healthy
Along with having low cholesterol levels, dragon fruit is beneficial for the heart overall. A systematic review says that the dragon fruit has the potency to improve heart health greatly.
In animals, it is found to lower blood pressure and decrease the stiffness of veins. In humans, it improves heart rate and maintains optimal heart rate. The mechanism, however, is unknown and more research is required to understand it.
8. Superb for Skin and Wounds
The high antioxidant levels of dragon fruit make it beneficial for the skin as well.
Antioxidants are considered to be very effective in improving skin health. Natural sources of antioxidants, like dragon fruit, keep the skin fresh and also lower the aging process.
The dragon fruit’s benefits can be obtained both ways, by eating and applying it to the skin using different methods. It is even considered beneficial for treating acne. With no side effects, its pulp can be mixed with honey and applied to the skin for better skin health.
The rich flavonoids and vitamin C also make it perfect to be used in ointments. Its cell regeneration and anti-inflammatory properties make it an ideal component to be used in open wound healing ointments, an initial study shows.
9. Good for Colored Hair
Dragon fruit makes fo a natural dye. The dragon fruit skin is perfect to color the hair and enhance hair growth.
Furthermore, as it contains iron in good quantity, it nourishes the hair as well. Increased levels of iron mean more oxygen is reaching your hair follicles and you can have healthy hair with beautiful color. It is even beneficial for damaged hair that became unhealthy due to chemical use.
10. One of the Best “Anti-Inflammatory Fruit”
According to a scientific study, dragon fruit is beneficial against different inflammatory conditions. Its antioxidant properties are found to be effective in the conditions like gout and other types of arthritis.
Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects joints and leads to severe pain and even immobility. Dragon fruit is known to produce positive effects in patients with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Thus, most of the time, it is called an “anti-inflammatory fruit.”
11. A Cancer Fighter
Dragon fruit contains many beneficial chemicals and among those, there are cancer-fighting agents as well. A study found dragon fruit to be a killer of colon and prostate cancer cells specifically. It destroys these cancer cells without producing any harmful impact on the healthy cells.
More research is ongoing to see whether the dragon fruit is beneficial in other forms of cancers as well.
12. Amazing Immunity Booster
Along with the different health benefits of dragon fruits, it is also found to be an immunity booster. The sugars in dragon fruit greatly amplify the immunoglobulin A and G concentrations in the blood.
Immunoglobulin A serves as the first line of defense in the body. It protects against bacterial and viral infections and doesn’t allow them to enter the body initially.
Immunoglobulin G is considered to be the most common antibody. It is mainly present in body fluids including blood and also provides protection against diverse bacterial and viral infections.
Now you know what dragon fruit is good for? So, when you need to add an exotic flavor to your diet, it is one of the best options to go for. You can easily munch on it without fuss. It’s a perfect evening snack that tastes amazing and also keeps you healthy. You can use it in different recipes as well.
Diverse studies claim that it is safe to consume dragon fruit daily. As more and more people are getting aware of dragon fruit benefits, more research studies are appearing and proving it to be a super fruit. Soon in the near future, there will be more proven benefits to using dragon fruit daily. From the skin to the pulp, it’s nature’s gift for our body; take this advantage and live a healthy life!
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Dragon fruit is also known as pitaya or strawberry pear. Hylocereus cactus, also called Honolulu queen, is the parent plant.
Being rich in nutrients, it provides the body with many vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc.
It is low in cholesterol and rich in fibers. It makes you feel full for a long time; this makes it a healthy munching snack.
It’s a rich source of antioxidants that helps in improving skin health, lowering the risk of cancers, enhancing heart health, and detoxing the body.
It is even beneficial for diabetes patients as it controls the sugar level in the body.
Featured photo credit: Maddi Bazzocco via unsplash.com