Have you ever heard of a dragon fruit? This mystical, legendary fruit should be on your list of exotic fruits to consume because living up to its legendary name, the fruit has legendary health benefits. Dragon fruit is a delicious tropical superfood with a lot of surprising health benefits. The most common variety is the white-fleshed variety, also called pitahaya, a fruit of the genus Hylocereus. While this variety is more widely known, the red one also called pitaya roja, or red-fleshed pitahaya (Hylocereus polyrhizus), offers a wide range of health benefits that should make you incorporate the fruit as a part of your regular diet.
Dragon fruits are originated in Central America but widely cultivated in Southeast Asian countries. In fact, the name dragon fruit is the literal translation of its Asian names. Dragon fruits are obtained from several species of cactus. Its delicious fruit grows from the flame-like flower that stems from the cactus plants that thrive well in arid climates. Some of the fruits have red or red flesh and an abundance of small black seeds. When people eat the fruits. They also eat the edible seeds. The red variety is not as commonly found, and typically is sold at an expensive price.
1. Boosts Immune System
Red dragon fruit is packed with healthy nutrients that can do a lot of good for your immune systems, such as vitamin C and flavonoids. In fact, the vitamin C content in a red dragon fruit is even higher than in the same serving-size of carrot. Because of this, red dragon fruit can be considered of one of the top natural sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is very important as an immunity booster because it helps the white blood cells in fighting dangerous microorganisms and neutralize free radicals. Meanwhile, flavonoids, along with polyphenol that is also observed in a dragon fruit, are very important to fight diseases from attacking cell lines, including cancer risks. Flavonoid and vitamin C are some of the most potent antioxidants.
Moreover, dragon fruit also contains a number of other antioxidants in high concentration like lycopene, which helps your body to get rid of free radicals. These benefits are supported by the existence of other important vitamins such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, and other minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and iron. It even has healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that can decrease the level of triglycerides and reduce the risk of cholesterol-related diseases.
2. Aids Digestion
A perfectly functioning digestion system is the key to a good metabolism, weight loss, and healthy colon and gut environment. To aid digestion, we all know that we should consume fiber that is widely available in fruits and vegetables. Red dragon fruits are one of the best sources of fiber which can promote a regular bowel movement. A healthy bowel movement will prevent digestion problems like constipation or inflammatory bowel syndrome.
A 100-gram of fresh red dragon fruit contains 1 gram of fiber. Interestingly, when dried, the same serving of red dragon fruit contains a higher fiber count, at least around 10 grams. With this high amount of fiber, your digestion health will certainly be promoted if you incorporate red dragon fruits into your diet.
Besides fiber, red dragon fruits also contain oligosaccharides which work as prebiotics, providing foods to the healthy gut bacteria in the gut. Adding prebiotic to your diet can be an important boost to your digestive health.
3. Boosts Cardiovascular Health
A study also mentions how red dragon fruits are able to benefit human being in relation to their cardiovascular health. Because red dragon fruit contains a lot of antioxidants, it is able to soothe the effects of oxidative stress on the heart. Cardiovascular diseases are one of the biggest threats to a human being. Each year, an astounding number of people die from these diseases. It even makes up for a significant percentage of causes of death worldwide every year. According to a statistic, around 175 million people die from heart problems every year around the world. Because of this, diseases like coronary heart disease and the likes should be prevented by boosting the cardiovascular health.
According to a study that is published in the Journal of Pharmacognosy Research, red dragon fruits may be able to decrease the level of blood cholesterol in the body. At the same time, it also improves the good cholesterol. This cholesterol-stabilizing property is good for maintaining cardiovascular health. Many cases of heart attacks and strokes happen because of the rise of the blood cholesterol levels. Moreover, because red dragon fruit contains a lot of monounsaturated fats, which will also help to boost the health of cardiovascular system.
The ability to boost cardiovascular health is not only due to the cholesterol stabilizing and the healthy fat, but also the omega fatty acids carried inside the seeds. These black little seeds inside the fruit may look like something that carry little value. However, they are rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids also decrease the risk of cardiovascular problems.
4. Preserves Youthful Look
Antioxidants are not only good at keeping the inside of your body, preventing age-related illnesses and contagious diseases, but they also are amazing for your skin. The vitamin C content of the red dragon fruit helps the skin to stay firm and tight. As a result, youthful appearance can be preserved and you will maintain beauty with glowing and rejuvenated skin. Additionally, other minerals like phosphorous can also be an effective anti-aging substance. It affects the repairing process of your body cells which is necessary to maintain youthful skin and delays the signs of premature aging.
5. Prevents Cancer
Red dragon fruit is a host of many antioxidant properties, including vitamin C, phytoalbumin, and some minerals. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals that cause inflammation and may trigger cancerous cells. According to studies, high doses of vitamin C can inhibit the growth and the spread of pancreatic, liver, prostate, colon, and other types of cancer. Moreover, vitamin C can also make the treatment of cancer more effective. According to some studies in human, high doses of vitamin C in cancer patients bring improvement in an overall quality of life. The patients with cancer experienced improvements in their physical, mental, and emotional functions. It also soothes some of the symptoms of cancer such as pain, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and appetite loss.
Moreover, red dragon fruits also contain lycopene. Lycopene is a natural plant substance that is often found in fruits and vegetables rich in color, like tomatoes. According to studies, lycopene might have chemopreventive effects against lung, breast, prostate, skin, and liver cancer. In the journal Nutrition and Cancer, a study discovered that cancerous cells in ovarian cancer patients were destroyed when the patients received lycopene treatment.
6. Has Strong Antibacterial Properties
In addition to vitamin C and other antioxidants, red dragon fruit also boosts your immune system because of its antibacterial and antifungal qualities. This gives your body extra protection in its defense against bacterial and fungal infections. Your white blood cells will be helped a lot because of this boost. Bacteria and fungus will have difficult times entering your system and multiply. Moreover, the antifungal and antibacterial properties also speed up wound healing as it prevents infection and kills bacteria that try to enter your system through the wound.
7. Promotes Healthy Bones
Red dragon fruit is rich in different minerals like iron, phosphorous, and calcium. Those minerals are vital to maintaining healthy and strong bones. Since red dragon fruit is rich in these minerals, it is good to maintain bone density and proper functioning. According to FAO of the United Nations, one of the reasons red dragon fruit has a high nutritional value is due to its calcium content. And calcium is an important factor in bone formation. An adequate calcium intake is needed to ensure that your bones will be strong enough to help you perform your daily tasks. Moreover, red dragon fruit is also rich in iron content which is also needed for strong bone formation. The high level of vitamin C in red dragon fruit will help improve your body’s ability in absorbing minerals like iron.
8. Stabilizes Cholesterol Levels
One of the most important benefits of red dragon fruit is its ability to decrease the level of bad cholesterol or LDL in your body. Part of this effective property is due to its vitamin B3 content. High level of LDL cholesterol is a bad sign because it can lead to serious diseases like a heart attack and stroke. Red dragon fruit is also rich in fiber, which is beneficial in improving digestion and metabolism. This, in turn, will reduce the accumulation of bad cholesterol that comes from the consumption of unhealthy foods.
According to a clinical study that was published in the 2009 edition of American Journal of Applied Sciences, a regular consumption of red dragon fruit will stabilize the blood cholesterol level. The trial subjects were given red dragon fruit every day for five weeks and at the end of the trial period, the scientists discovered that the overall cholesterol levels of the subjects decreased.
9. Aids Weight Loss
Red dragon fruit should be in your diet plan if you aim to lose some weight. The fruit is high in protein but very low in carbs and fat. With the composition, this is the kind of fruit that you need when you want to avoid obesity. Protein is a good energy source because it won’t be stored in your body as a body fat. It fuels you to perform your daily activities and workout so you can stay active and keep your healthy metabolism going. Protein is also helpful in improving your muscle mass. More muscle mass means better and firmer body and more overall calories needed to fuel the body. As a result, you will burn more calories, in the end, every day.
In addition, the fiber in red dragon fruit will help your weight loss goals through different means. First, it promotes satiety and helps you control cravings. Consuming enough fiber will make you consume fewer foods and fewer calories in total. It also helps with your digestion and metabolism so your weight loss goal will be easier to achieve.
10. Prevents Diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes need to adjust their lifestyle and start making healthy changes. To prevent the spikes of blood sugar, people with diabetes need to reduce the intake of carbs and start exercising. Red dragon fruit is known as a fruit that can reduce the risk of diabetes. Consuming the fruit regularly will minimize the danger of eating unhealthy foods that can cause a rise in the blood sugar level.
Malaysian researchers that published their study in the journal National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health wrote that red dragon fruit is rich in betacyanin that can normalize the blood sugar level and prevent diabetes. In another study, the researchers also made a good observation on how red dragon fruit affects diabetes patients with insulin dependency. In the study, the patients were given daily doses of 600-gram of red dragon fruit for four weeks. At the end of the observation, the scientists observed that the patients’ blood sugar levels decreased by 19% on average. Flavonoid is among some substances that play a role in stabilizing the level of blood sugar.
11. Eases Respiratory Problems
Respiratory problems like a cough are very common so many people just shrug it off when they have cough problems unless it comes with a very bad flu or a sore throat. However, some bad cough can lead to asthma and the complication of these two illnesses can be such a torture. People with respiratory problems, like asthma and cough, can turn to red dragon fruit for an all-natural prevention against these symptoms. Eating the fruit regularly will ease the symptoms by clearing out airway and improving the respiration. The vitamins will also promote faster healing.
12. Helps Red Blood Cells Formation
Your body needs enough red blood cells to function well. Red blood cells carry oxygen to each one of your cells. Without enough oxygen supply, your organs will not be able to function, your cells can die. These red blood cells are generated with the help of vitamin B12 or riboflavin that you can get from foods. Red dragon fruit contains a significant amount of vitamin B12 that can be really helpful for your body when you consume it regularly. Moreover, red dragon fruit also contains another substantial element that is needed in red blood cells production: iron. Around 70% of your body’s iron goes to hemoglobin, which binds oxygen and transfers it from the lungs to your body tissues. In fact, many anemia cases are related to iron deficiency. This is more reason you should consume red dragon fruit more often.
13. Aids Bodybuilding
Besides being the perfect fruit for people who aim to lose some weight, red dragon fruit is also a healthier alternative to protein supplements for people who aim to have a better body shape. Red dragon fruit contains protein that helps the formation of muscle mass. Getting your protein from a natural source is always healthier than taking protein supplements. This is especially good news for vegetarians or vegans who avoid animal-based products and have to get their protein from plant-based sources.
14. Gives More Energy
Red dragon fruit isn’t only fresh and rich in vitamins, it is also an effective source of energy. Besides containing a balanced composition of carbohydrates and protein, which are two of the most important energy sources, red dragon fruit also stores some thiamine or vitamin B. This vitamin can help your body convert carbohydrates into energy and transport energy within cells more effectively.
15. Provides Nutrition for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women need a higher nutritional intake to maintain their health and ensure the healthy development of the infants. They will be benefited from consuming foods that contain enough vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fatty acids. These nutrients can be found in red dragon fruits, making the fruit a very good addition to the diet of pregnant women.
Red dragon fruits also have enough iron and folate that can be very beneficial for pregnant women. Iron prevents anemia in pregnant women while folate aids the production of red blood cells and help the development of baby’s brain.