Dragon fruit has many benefits and may be one of the most attractive fruits on the planet. With its unusual scaly and stunning reddish outer surface enclosing a milky white flesh with specks of black seeds, it immediately makes me smile. Not all dragon fruit fits this description; some have pink or yellow skin and/or red flesh, but they are eye-pleasing just the same!
This sweet fruit has its roots in the cactus family, but in Southeast Asia, which is its native home, the locals assign the term “dragon” to it—aka dragon pearl fruit, green dragon, or dragon crystal. In Hindu, dragon fruit is called pitaya, and it is revered for its sweetness, crunchy texture, and health benefits.
High in fiber
The high fiber content of dragon fruit serves numerous purposes, including helping to lower cholesterol, assisting with regularity, contributing to colon health, and helping to detox the body.
Rich in antioxidants
This fruit is high in antioxidants, including vitamin C, hydroxycinnamates, flavonoids, and betalains. Hydroxycinnamates have shown some anti-cancer activity while flavonoids are associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and betalains have been shown to help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, have anti-inflammatory properties, and prompt the growth of new blood vessels.
Good source of omega-3 fatty acids
The black seeds in dragon fruit are a source of omega-3 fatty acids. This is important because omega-3s are typically found in cold water fish, while nonmarine sources are few. Omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in heart health, brain health, anxiety, inflammation, and eye health, among others.
Supports skin health
In addition to ingesting the antioxidants and vitamins in dragon fruit, which are great for promoting healthy skin, you can make a paste of the fruit’s flesh to help your skin. People in Southeast Asia apply dragon fruit paste to their skin to treat acne, ease sunburn, and slow the aging process.
Aids in diabetes prevention
A recent study reported that among people with prediabetes, intake of dragon fruit significantly reduced fasting plasma glucose levels but did not do the same for people with type 2 diabetes. This suggests dragon fruit may have a role in the prevention of type 2 diabetes.
Provides important minerals
Dragon fruit provides potassium (important for blood pressure), calcium (bone health), magnesium (bone health and scores of other benefits), and iron (blood health).
Helps with weight loss
Each medium dragon fruit contains only about 60 calories. With the high fiber content and the natural sweetness, it satisfies your sweet tooth and your hunger.
How to eat dragon fruit
The best way to enjoy dragon fruit is fresh. Simply slice the fruit lengthwise and then either spoon out the flesh or peel away the leathery outer surface. This peel is bitter, so try to avoid it. You can add the flesh to salads (cut into cubes or make balls) or incorporate into a smoothie.
Dragon Fruit Smoothie Recipe1 dragon fruit, peeled and cut into pieces 2 fresh apricots, peeled and cut into pieces 4 ounces almond milk, unsweetened or vanilla (your choice!) 2 to 4 Tbs vanilla yogurt (non-dairy or regular)
Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse till smooth.Let us know other ways you enjoy dragon fruit. [Editor's Note: One of our favorite ways to enjoy dragon fruit, other than fresh, is Dragon fruit chips from Now Foods. The color is so vibrant and the taste is super sweet. A real healthy treat.] Sign up for our newsletter for more healthy eating ideas and recipes.