Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is a fruit that can be incorporated into a healthy diet to promote weight loss. It also has other health benefits due to its high quantities of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals, all which are important in protecting the body and promoting optimal function
There are 3 different variations of dragon fruit: red dragon fruit (which is pinkish-purple on the inside and outside), yellow dragon fruit (that has a yellow peel but is white on the inside), and white dragon fruit (which has a pink peel and white on the inside). This fruit has a smooth and sweet taste, and is pleasant to many taste palates.
Dragon fruit is a fruit that grows on a plant that belongs to the cactus family, Cactaceae, of the Hylocereus species, making it popularly found in central america, South America, Israel, Thailand, Vietnam and Malasia.
Dragon fruit has a light flavour, and due to its composition, it has many positive health benefits. The main benefits include:
1. Promotes weigh loss
Due to its low calorie and carb content, dragon fruit can help with weight loss when incorporated into a healthy diet. In addition, it is rich in fiber that helps to keep you full and reduce over-eating at mealtimes.
Dragon fruit also contains a substance called betacyanin, which according to some studies, can help with weight loss and improve lipid profile. Betacyanin can also decrease insulin resistance as well as your risk for fatty liver disease.
It also possesses a substance called tiramin, which activates the glucagon hormone and stimulates the bodt to use its sugar and fat resources for energy.
2. Protects cells throughout the body
Dragon fruit is a fruit that is rich on polyphenols, flavonoids, betacyanins and vitamin C, all which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action. These help to prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals, as well as the development of some chronic illnesses, like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition, it can also prevent early aging due to the vitamin C it contains, as well as promote the formation of collagen in the skin (an important component in skin firmness and elasticity).
3. Strengthens the bones
Dragon fruit provides lots of calcium, magnesium and phosphorus to the body, which are minerals that play in important role in strengthening the bones and teeth. This makes dragon fruit an excellent option for people with a history of osteoporosis or osteopenia. It can also be a good choice for children, as it promotes skeletal growth and development.
4. Improves digestion
Recent studies suggest that dragon fruit acts like a probiotic, which means that the fibers found in the fruit are no fully digested in the intestines. They are, instead, fermented, which increases the activity of food bacteria in the intestinal flora, and also regulates the growth of bacteria that can cause damage.
These probiotics promote intestinal flow and increase fecal production, which can help with constipation and improve overall digestion. In addition, dragon fruit can also help to prevent colon cancer, strengthen the immune system, reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and reduce the development of neurodegenerative illnesses.
5. Regulates blood sugar levels
Dragon fruit, especially the red type, is able to decrease insulin resistance to its high fiber and antioxidant content. These components help to regulate blood sugar levels and improve conditions like pre-diabetes, preventing the development of diabetes.
Because this fruit acts on sugar levels, it is important to avoid eating this fruit if you are taking medication for diabetes, as both consumed together can cause hypoglycemia.
6. Helps to decrease cholesterol
Eating dragon fruit as part of a healthy diet can help to reduce cholesterol levels, preventing the development of cardiovascular disease. This is due to its high fiber content, which prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the small intestine.
In addition, it possess antioxidants and saponins, which are organic compounds that promote the excretion of cholesterol through the stool.
7. Strengthens the immune system
Because it is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, eating dragon fruit can help to strengthen the immune system. It is able to increase the body’s immune response to viruses like dengue, fungus like Candida albicans, and bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus e Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
8. Prevents anemia
Dragon fruit is rich in iron, which is a mineral that is essential for the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. This can prevent or improve anemia. Because it also contains vitamin C, it also improves the absorption of iron in the intestines, especially iron that is consumes from fruits and veggies.
The following table outlines the nutrients found in 100 g of dragon fruit, organized according to the color of its pulp:
|Nutritional composition for each 100 g||Yellow dragon fruit||White dragon fruit||Red dragon fruit|
|Energy||49 calories||43 calories||45 calories|
|Water||85.9 g||87.05 g||84.50 g|
|Protein||1.10 g||1.60 g||1.25 g|
|Fat||0 g||0 g||0 g|
|Carbohydrates||9.80 g||8.28 g||9.47 g|
|Fiber||1.40 g||1.20 g||3.26 g|
|Vitamin C||7.34 mg||13.70 mg||9.50 mg|
|Calcium||8.26 mg||7.50 mg||12 mg|
|Phosphorus||16 mg||34 mg||25 mg|
|Iron||3.37 mg||2.90 mg||1.98 mg|
|Magnesium||253.40 mg||272.60 mg||-|
|Vitamin A||558.44 UI||7400.79 UI||-|
|Vitamin B1||-||0.04 mg||0.06 mg|
|Vitamin B2||-||0.04 mg||0.05 mg|
|Vitamin B3||-||0.22 mg||0.26 mg|
How to eat it
It is possible to eat dragon fruit as is, or incorporate it into salads, smoothies, ice cream and desserts.
To eat dragon fruit pulp, cut the fruit in half and remove the pulp from its peel with a spoon.
1. Dragon fruit sorbet
This sorbet recipe is excellent for weight loss, as it does not contain sugar and because dragon fruit has little calories. It helps to control appetite and boost metabolism.
- 2 cups of dragon fruit pulp
- Sweetener, in powder, to taste
- 1 cup of skim milk
- 4 egg whites, beaten until fluffy white
How to prepare
Mix the ingredients and place in a container with a lid. Place in the freezer for about 2 hours. Then beat with a mixer again and place in the freezer once more, until ready to serve.
In addition to helping with weight loss, dragon fruit is beneficial for regulating intestinal flow and helping with digestion.
2. Dragon fruit juice with lemon
Dragon fruit juice with lemon is rich in antioxidants, making it a great option for a weight loss diet.
- 2 dragon fruits
- 2 lemons
- 1/2 cup of water
How to prepare
Cut the dragon fruits n half and remove the pulp. Then chop up the pulps and place in a blender with the lemons and water. Then add ice and sweeten with stevia if necessary.
3. Dragon fruit yogurt
Dragon fruit yogurt is rich in fibers and antioxidants, and low in calories. This can be an excellent option for breakfast or a snack.
- 1/2 banana
- 3 raspberries
- 2 strawberries
- 1 pineapple slice
- 1 dragon fruit
- 4 walnuts
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon of oats
- Greek yogurt
How to prepare
Cut up all the fruits and place in a bowl. Then add the yogurt, chia seeds and oats. Mix together and eat.