Dragon fruit (Pitaya) is one of the more curious looking fruits in the produce section of the grocery store. Perhaps you questioned it’s flavour, or brilliant pink hues. This psychedelic explosion of colour actually benefits your health in a myriad of different ways! Before we get to the amazing health benefits of this astounding fruit, you may wonder what it tastes like. If left to ripen (the green “leaves” on the fruit will start to brown when the fruit is ripe, and the fruit itself will be slightly soft to touch), this fruit tastes a little bit like a marshmallow kiwi! Incredibly sweet with a very slight background tang, this fruit is a definite must-try! This fruit is excellent on its own, or paired with other fruit like kiwi and pineapple. It is also great as an addition to smoothies.
Here are 10 ways in which dragon fruit can start improving your health today!
The seeds in dragon fruit are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). These healthy fats actually help reduce triglycerides and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dragon fruit also contains vitamin B3 which lowers our bad (LDL) cholesterol levels while raising our good (HDL) cholesterol levels. Additionally, dragon fruit is known to help decrease high levels of oxidative stress, one of the main contributing factors in cardiovascular disease.
Dragon fruit is loaded with beneficial antioxidants like phytoalbumins (located mainly within the seeds) which aid in the prevention of cancer-causing free radicals. They also contain high levels of vitamin C, which helps to block tumour cell growth, and can improve quality of life of patients currently suffering from cancer (reduced symptoms like fatigue, nausea, vomiting, pain and appetite loss). Dragon fruit can also help rid the body of toxic heavy metals, which are a major culprit in the formation of tumours in the body.
3. Digestion and metabolism
Dragon fruit is incredibly high in fibre! I can personally eat 2-3 dragon fruits and be satisfied for hours on end (I was actually quite surprised to feel so full after such little fruit!). The fibre content in dragon fruit helps regulate our digestion and prevents constipation and diarrhea. Keeping your stomach full for hours after you have eaten is one issue facing those who want to lose weight. This exotic fruit will not only keep you satisfied for longer periods of time, but it will help improve your metabolic rate, assisting with weight management. Dragon fruit also helps regulate blood sugar levels (again, due to the high fibre content), and helps your body from experiencing sugar spikes that you would normally get from eating refined sugary sweets (donuts, cakes, cookies, etc.).
4. Immune support
The high vitamin and mineral content in dragon fruit, ranging from Vitaminâ€™s C, B1, B2, B3, as well as calcium, phosphorous, iron, protein, niacin and fibre, make it a great way to improve the functioning of your immune system. Your immune system starts in your digestive tract, and as we saw above, dragon fruit is a great way to support a healthy GI tract. Getting a proper amount of vitamins and minerals in your diet helps prevent you from getting sick and catching infections. As well, antioxidants (which dragon fruit is loaded), can help fight off bacteria and viruses in the body. The 80% water content of dragon fruit will also help flush out stagnant toxins, which may otherwise manifest as some sort of disease or illness (either now or in the future).
Improved eyesight from eating dragon fruit? You bet! This fruit contains Vitamin A in the form of carotene which is needed by the retina of the eye for both low-light (night vision) and colour vision. Night blindness and other eye problems such as age-related macular degeneration can be caused by a deficiency in Vitamin A.
6. Nervous system
The high B Vitamin content in dragon fruit helps to support the formation and maintenance of some of the most basic structures in the nervous system. It helps in the formation of nerve cells themselves, and makes us more alert, and experience higher levels of mental clarity. Calcium in dragon fruit is also essential in enhancing the functioning of the nervous system. It keeps our nerves healthy and ensures their ability to communicate effectively. The healthy fats in dragon fruit are also crucial to help nourish and protect the myelin sheath which allows for proper conductive signalling in the brain.
7. Strong bones and teeth
Because it is a good source of calcium and phosphorous, dragon fruit helps strengthen your bones and teeth and aids in tissue formation and repair. These two important nutrients work together closely to build strong bones and teeth, which makes dragon fruit a wonderful fruit to help aid in the prevention of brittle bones and osteoporosis. The co-dependency of these two minerals means that taking a calcium supplement simply wonâ€™t help the health of your bones, as would eating whole ripe fruit which contains the combination of the two minerals. Always keep in mind that both calcium and phosphorous are needed to support any increase in bone mass.
8. Glowing skin
The high seed content in dragon fruit makes them a great source of healthy monounsaturated fats which improve the look and feel of our skin. Pretty much all fruit is antioxidant rich, including dragon fruit, and so consuming a diet rich in raw plant-based foods will stave off free radicals and make you not only look younger, but make your skin tighter, more flexible and bless you with a beautiful healthy glow!
Dragon fruit is known as a great anti-inflammatory as it helps to decrease irritation of the joints. Inflammation in the body caused by unhealthy eating habits and poor lifestyle choices (smoking, alcohol, drugs, etc.) create an acidic environment which manifests as a variety of diseases like arthritis, cancer, and diabetes to name a few. When we start to replace healthy foods, like dragon fruit, for unhealthy foods (like sweets and refined processed foods), we will notice that the aches and pains that used to haunt us day in, day out, suddenly fade away. Replacing your favourite sugary desserts for things like dragon fruit and mango (or any other fruit) will help get you out of your sugar-tooth rut and improve your body for the better.
Skip the anti-aging cream, save thousands of dollars, and instead go eat dragon fruit! The high vitamin and mineral content as well as vast arrays of antioxidants in the dragon fruit make it an excellent anti-ager! The antioxidants work against free radicals in the body which are responsible for not only physical ailments (disease, and illness), but also for the aging of your skin. The more fresh fruit and vegetables you consume, the tighter and younger your skin will become.