By- Meena Ganagani,Practicing Clinical Nutritionist,Mumbai.
What is Dragon Fruit?
It is a tropical fruit with a unique appearance, crunchy texture and sweet taste. Its appearance draws its name from a fire-breathing dragon. Its rich source of antioxidants plays a vital role in reducing your risks of cancer and diabetes. Make it a point to add this super fruit to your everyday diet.
Dragon Fruit tastes like a mixture of kiwi and pear. The very first time you cut open this fruit, it may seem like an Oreo smoothie because of its white pulp and tiny black seeds. This tropical fruit has loads of health benefits and here is why you need to add this fruit to your everyday diet. (1)
Health benefits of Dragon fruit
Dragon fruit is an excellent source of fiber. Fiber may benefit gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health. Fiber is also filling, which is helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. People who eat whole, fiber-rich foods are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
Dragon fruit has a ton of beneficial vitamins and minerals, including:
- Carotenoids (may reduce cancer risk).
- Lycopene (may improve heart health and reduce cancer risk).
- Magnesium (important for cell function, and dragon fruit provides 18% of the recommended daily amount).
- Iron (important for healthy blood and energy, and dragon fruit contains 8% of the recommended daily intake).
- Vitamin C (helps your body absorb the iron and boosts immune system health). (2)
- Dragon fruit contains several antioxidants that protect your cells from damage. These include betalains, hydroxycinnamates, and flavonoids.
- Both red and white varieties of dragon fruit have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and fatty liver.
- Dragon fruit contains prebiotic fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut potentially improving metabolic health.
- This fruit may improve certain features of metabolic syndrome a condition associated with type 2 diabetes.(3)
How to add to the diet
To eat, use the following steps:
- A person can slice and eat dragon fruit with minimal preparation.
- Test to see whether the dragon fruit is ripe by pressing on its outer peel. If the peel gives slightly, it is likely to be ripe.
- Cut the dragon fruit in half lengthwise. If desired, cut the fruit once more into four parts. This can make removing the peel easier.
- Remove the outer peel and discard any remaining pink portions of the fruit. These are edible but tend to taste very bitter.
- Eat the flesh of the dragon fruit, including the small black seeds. These contain fiber that can add to the health benefits of eating dragon fruit.
While most people do not usually eat the skin due to its bitter flavor, some people will pickle the skin and eat it alone or incorporate it into a salad. (4)