All about adding dragon fruit to your diet!

Bajaj Finserv Health Team, Dietitian/Nutritionist
November 24, 2020

Fruits are rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients, all while being generally calorie-efficient. Eating fruit is thus an important part of consuming a balanced diet. To add to that, tropical fruits like the dragon fruit are also extremely tasty and unique in both looks and texture, thus making for a pleasant sensory experience. Looking deeper, studies have found that eating dragon fruit has many health benefits. This exotic fruit is rich in magnesium, iron, and fibre, all of which are essential for your body.

Besides the many benefits of dragon fruit, adding it to your diet is simple since it easily available and has quite a few varieties you can choose from. The most common one has red skin and green scales, but you can also find dragon fruit with red pulp or yellow skin and white pulp. While these have subtle differences in taste, the flavour profile of dragon fruit is
often described as a cross between a pear and kiwi. However, despite the fact that it is good for health, there are possible side effects involved with consuming dragon fruit. For this reason, it is important to know all you can about it. Here are the various dragon fruit uses, benefits, and side effects.

Dragon fruit nutritional facts

Dragon fruit is a nutrient-dense fruit, which means that it offers numerous essential nutrients while being calorie-efficient. This is of immense value for healthy eating and makes the fruit a good snack as compared to other sweet alternatives. To shed a little light on this, here is the nutritional chart for 227g of dragon fruit, as provided by Healthline Media.

  • Calories: 136
  • Fibre: 7g
  • Iron: 8% of the RDI
  • Fat: 0g
  • Protein: 3g
  • Vitamin E: 4% of the RDI
  • Carbohydrates: 29g
  • Vitamin C: 9% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 18% of the RDI

It is clear that even as little as one cup of dragon fruit can be quite nutritious!

Dragon fruit health benefits

From the nutritional chart listed above, it is apparent that the dragon fruit is good for you in more ways than one. It has no fat content and is also rich in antioxidants. The mains types of antioxidants present in it are:

  • Betalains: These keep LDL (bad) cholesterol from becoming damaged or oxidised.
  • Flavonoids: These improve brain health and reduce chances of heart disease.
  • Hydroxycinnamates: This group of antioxidants was found to have anti-cancer properties.
    The antioxidant content is just one of the many benefits of dragon fruit. Here is a brief overview of the other dragon fruit uses.
    • Combats chronic disease: Inflammation and disease are caused by free radicals and foods rich in antioxidants, like dragon fruit, help neutralise the effect of these molecules. In addition, dragon fruit has carotenoids that are known to reduce risk of heart disease and cancer.
    • Works toward building healthy gut bacteria: Dragon fruit contains prebiotic fibre known to aid the growth of healthy gut bacteria. As a result, it can improve your metabolic health and reduce gut infections and diarrhoea.
    • Strengthens the immune system: Due to its high vitamin C content, coupled with the carotenoids, dragon fruit can help ward off infections by protecting white bloods cells.
    • Provides the body with dietary fibre: As mentioned earlier, dragon fruit is rich in prebiotic fibre, which helps maintain a healthy gut. In addition to that, this fibre also helps maintain a healthy body weight, manage type II diabetes, and keep heart disease in check.
    • Keeps magnesium levels in check: Magnesium plays a vital role in the body as it has a hand in over 600 chemical reactions. Right from bone formation and muscle contraction to breakdown of food and creation of DNA, this mineral is vital, and just one cup of this fruit gives you around 18% of the recommended dietary intake.
    • Boosts iron in the body: Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, which is needed for oxygen transport in the body, and a dragon fruit has both these minerals in generous amounts. This helps you meet the daily requirement and can keeps health complications at bay!

Dragon fruit side effects

While it does have its benefits, the dragon fruit is also something not everyone can handle. This is particularly relevant to those who may have an allergic reaction to this tropical fruit. In such cases, the side effects may include:

      • Hives
      • Swelling of the tongue
      • Vomiting

In more severe cases, a reaction can result in an anaphylactic reaction, which can be deadly if not handled appropriately.

Dragon fruit in your diet

There are many ways to add a dragon fruit to your diet, but before you do, always ensure you’re eating a ripe fruit. To do so, press on the fruit and check for firmness. If it is too soft, there are chances it is overripe and if it is too firm, it may be slightly underripe. With a ripe fruit, remember to cut it down the middle, in half, and scoop out the flesh. Do not consume the skin.

The flesh can then be eaten raw, but there are other ways to consume it. You can:

      • Mix it in with a salad
      • Make a yoghurt bowl with nuts and dragon fruit
      • Prepare a fruit smoothie

Incorporating tropical fruits in your diet adds a great amount of flavour and fun to a cookie-cutter health-first meal plan. With the dragon fruit, this ties in perfectly as it is a nutrient-dense fruit and also contains the right amount of dietary fibre for a healthy gut. However, given the fact that side effects are possible, and in rare cases, even lethal, it may be worthwhile to consult a specialist beforehand. This way, you can get the right advice on whether or not it is safe for you and if so, how much of dragon fruit you can consume in a day. Such recommendations eliminate the risk of overconsumption and any other complications. Thankfully, with the Bajaj Finserv Health app, finding the best dietician in your vicinity is now just a few clicks away.

With this app, not only can you find such health specialists, but you can also book appointments at their clinics online and avail numerous other telemedicine benefits. For instance, you can consult doctors over video, track your vitals digitally, and maintain digital patient records too. For a dietician, having access to your records allows for optimal healthcare, especially for a periodical tweak to the diet plan. So, arm yourself with this provision and take advantage of digital healthcare services today! To get started, download the app for free from Google Play or the Apple App store.