22 Aug Get refreshed – Dragon fruit
What is Dragon Fruit?
Dragon fruit is an exotic and delicious fruit, which is also considered a tropical superfood because of its wealth of benefits. It is known as “pitaya or pitahaya” which comes from the genus Stenocereus and Hylocereus respectively. It has its origins in Mexico, South America, and Central America, but New World settlers probably brought it to Southeast Asian nations like Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines, where it remains an important part of the dietary fruit intake. Now, not just the fruit but also nutrient-rich pitayaha powder is available worldwide.
Dragon Fruit Nutrition
Dragon fruit is a healthy fruit, which is low in calories and rich in antioxidants and can be added to any weight loss diet. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the fruit is rich in proteins, fiber, lycopene, and carbohydrates. It contains carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B, thiamine (vitamin B1), and riboflavin. The mineral wealth of this fruit includes calcium, phosphorus, iron, and sodium. Dragon fruit is believed to contain phytonutrients that prevent various diseases. Also, there are polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids in the seeds of these fruits.
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
The health benefits of the dragon fruit are mainly attributed to its antioxidant, antibacterial, and nutritional properties. The benefits include boosted immunity, faster metabolism, and a smoother digestive process. Let us now look at the benefits in detail.
The high level of vitamin C found in dragon fruit helps boost immunity and it stimulates the activity of other antioxidants in the body as well. According to a research study, the flesh and the peel of the white and red pitayas have high polyphenol and flavonoid content which helps eliminate free radicals. This has been directly linked to preventing the proliferation of cancer cells. Also, these antioxidants work their way in increasing the platelet count, thus treat dengue and helping you recover fast.
Regular consumption of dragon fruit is linked to a reduction in blood sugar levels, which is beneficial for type 2 diabetics and prediabetics. In a 2017 study, it was found that prediabetics showed a noticeable reduction in blood sugar levels as compared to people who had not eaten dragon fruit. Furthermore, prediabetics with higher consumption of dragon fruit showed greater blood glucose reduction.
Iron, present in dragon fruits, is great for boosting the hemoglobin levels in anemic individuals. It also aids in the production of red blood cells (RBCs), which then helps in the proper oxygenation of vital organs.
Detoxifies the Body
Antioxidant-rich dragon fruits help in detoxification by flushing out the waste metals and toxins from the body. This, in turn, aids in weight loss.
Rich in Vitamins
Dragon fruit is also packed with many vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamin group. The B1, B2, and B3 vitamins improve everything from blood pressure, skin health, and cholesterol levels to thyroid function, fluctuating hemoglobin levels, and carbohydrate metabolism.
Aids in Digestion
Dragon fruits have a significantly high fiber content, which means that they can help bulk up bowel movements, facilitating smooth passage through the digestive tract, stimulating peristaltic motion, and inducing a release of digestive juices. By regulating bowel function with dietary fiber, this fruit helps in preventing conditions like constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and even colorectal cancer. Also, a research study on natural prebiotics in Thailand showed that the fruit helped increase healthy gut flora, which is important for smooth digestion.
The antioxidants in dragon fruit help fight the signs of aging by reducing the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. They also aid in treating sunburn, acne, and dry skin. Vitamin C in these fruits, especially, helps brighten the skin. Try adding dried dragon fruit powder to your daily juices and watch your skin become radiant.
Dragon fruit has antifungal and antibacterial properties. These can help increase the white blood cell count in the body, which defend against toxins and also inhibit the entrance or growth of fungal or bacterial infections in the organs. The fruit also stimulates cell regeneration and speeds up healing, so wounds and bruises will heal at an increased rate.
Dietary intake of protein is essential for the healthy functioning of our body and dragon fruit is a good source of protein. Proteins are metabolized by enzymes in our body and turned into usable proteins that can speed up cell repair, enhance strength and metabolism, and help in weight loss and increase muscle mass.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Dragon fruit contains no unhealthy saturated fats. This leads to higher levels of HDL or good cholesterol and lower levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. Thus, the chances of developing plaque in the arteries and veins are less, thereby reducing your chances of suffering from atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.
Eating dragon fruit or adding dragon fruit extract powder to your daily diet helps in keeping the hair nourished and healthy. It treats the damage done to hair by the chemicals present in artificial hair color. It also helps improve the texture and bring back the shine to your hair.
Dragon fruit powder is rich in anti-inflammatory properties, which help in reducing the pain caused by arthritis.
Dragon fruit is known to inhibit the growth of human cytochrome P450, a protein found in liver. This protein is often linked with the occurrence of congenital glaucoma. Also, the beta-carotene content in this fruit helps in preventing macular degeneration and cataract formation by keep the eyes protected from harmful free radicals.