Dragon fruit is one of the more arresting looking objects in your grocery store. It is a beautiful object in itself, more like a beautiful work of art than your regular fruit. And once you slice into that vibrant, pink skin, there’s a whole new experience on the inside, looking more like a dessert than a healthy snack. Scientists have discovered that dragon fruit is not just mysteriously beautiful—it is packed full of nutrients. It’s the latest superfood!
What Is Dragon Fruit?
Also known in some places as the strawberry pear or pitaya, dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that actually belongs to the cactus family. But don’t worry, there are no spikes on the dragon fruit, and those scales are not sharp at all.
The scales and the rich colors of the outside skin are how the fruit got its name. It is grown throughout Asia, Mexico, Central, and South America, and increasingly in the southern states of the US.
What are the Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit?
Although each dragon fruit only contains sixty calories, it is packed full of nutrients from vitamins to minerals to antioxidants. It’s the abundance of antioxidants that gives dragon fruit its superfood status.
In the average six-ounce serving of dragon fruit, your body is a getting a supercharged hit of:
- Vitamin C: 4 mg
- Vitamin A: 100 IU
- Calcium: 31 mg
- Magnesium: 69 mg
- Iron: 1 gram
This serving of dragon fruit also contains 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein, with 0 fat and cholesterol.
Dragon fruit is full of phytonutrients such as the polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acids, as well as Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, to help your body resist disease.
More Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
Dragon fruit is high in antioxidants like flavonoids, phenolic acid, and betacyanin. These are the attack dogs of nutrition that go after the free radicals that can ravage your body. Free radicals are unstable compounds that can damage cells, leading to bodily inflammation and disease.
Anyone living in the modern world is subject to oxidative stress from pollution and stress from the demands of 21st-century life. Oxidative stress can weaken the immune system and leave you much more vulnerable to disease and auto-immune conditions. Research has shown that a diet rich in antioxidants can help to prevent a range of conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Dragon fruit’s high fiber content is not just good for your digestion. It can help protect against heart disease, obesity, and colon cancer. As well as fiber, dragon fruit contains prebiotics that promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in your digestive system. Adding dragon fruit to your regular diet will help keep your gut biome happy and healthy.
Surprisingly, dragon fruit is one of the very few fresh fruits that is high in iron. Combined with its digestion-promoting qualities and high levels of Vitamin C that aids iron absorption, this is a great way to boost your iron levels. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or if you suffer from anemia, regular consumption of dragon fruit will help to get more iron in your diet.
Dragon fruit’s high magnesium levels are healthy for your bones and muscles and, according to the latest studies, may even lower your risk for stroke and heart disease.
How to Eat Dragon Fruit?
The easiest way to eat dragon fruit is just to dig into the creamy flesh inside. You can cut the fruit in half and scoop out the fruit with a spoon, or you can treat it like a mango by slicing the fruit in half lengthways and cut the flesh into cubes.
You can eat a dragon fruit by itself or add it to fruit salads. Spoon it over ice cream, yogurt, or kefir or churn it into ice cream, sorbets, and granitas. It makes excellent juice and can be added to smoothies, shakes, and mocktails. Chopped up, you can make it the star of your favorite salsa recipe. You can also scoop the flesh into ice cube trays to add to summer drinks.
You can tell if a dragon fruit is ripe and ready to eat by gently squeezing it to see if the fruit resists or if it gives a little. It should feel like a ripe avocado. If it’s too hard, leave it to ripen on the kitchen counter or in the fruit bowl with a banana for company. A ripe banana will release chemicals into the air that encourage other fruits to ripen too.
Leftover dragon fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days and will keep three months in the freezer.
If you are having trouble finding fresh dragon fruit, your health food store might carry freeze-dried dragon fruit as a supplement. This powder contains all the health benefits of regular fresh dragon fruit and is easy to take. You simply add a sachet of dragon fruit powder to your usual breakfast juice or smoothie. You can also order it online, we order the powdered form.
Is Dragon Fruit Safe for Everyone?
Dragon fruit is safe for almost everyone to eat. It is fine to eat dragon fruit during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
In rare cases, some people may have an allergic reaction to dragon fruit, especially if they are sensitive to other members of the cactus family. If you experience tingling in the mouth, hives, swelling of your lips or tongue, vomiting, nausea, or vomiting, seek medical attention straight away.
Dragon fruit is an easy and delicious way to supercharge your diet with powerful health-boosting nutrients. Next time you’re in your grocery store, step outside your comfort zone and take home some dragon fruit for your fruit bowl. Your body will thank you for it!
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