Dragon Fruit: Nutritional Value, Health Benefits and Side Effects

Dr. Davinder Singh

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Davinder Singh


8 min read

Key Takeaways

  • It is a nutrient-dense fruit, which means that it offers numerous essential nutrients while being calorie-efficient.
  • It has no fat content and is also rich in antioxidants.
  • There are many ways to add this to your diet, but before you do, always ensure you’re eating ripe fruit.

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 is 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 a kiwi fruit. 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.

What Is Dragon Fruit?

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that looks unique and also tastes delicious. In the last few years, it has become increasingly popular amongst people. The dragon fruit grows on a cactus called the Hylocereus. This cactus is unique as its flowers open only at night; hence, it is also called the Honolulu queen. It is native to Central America and South Mexico though it is grown worldwide today. 

Dragon fruit also has multiple other names, like strawberry pear and pitaya. Dragon fruit comes in different varieties. The most commonly found ones have bright red skin with green scales (these scales resemble that of a dragon and hence the name). They usually have white pulp inside with black seeds. There are a couple of less common varieties with red pulp as well. There is another yellow dragon fruit which has yellow skin, white pulp, and black seeds. 

Dragon fruit has a flavour profile quite similar to other fruits. It is said to taste sweet, like a cross between a pear and a kiwi. 

Dragon Fruit Nutritional Value

It 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 Benefits

Not only does the dragon fruit look unique, but it is a powerhouse of goodness. It is rich in vitamins, magnesium, antioxidants, and minerals and comes with a variety of benefits for health-conscious people. Consume one cup of dragon fruit a day – and munch your way to good health, clear skin, shiny hair, and much more. 

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that grows on a cactus and has a variety of health benefits. It is rich in multiple vitamins and antioxidants and tastes delicious, making it easy to include in your daily diet. 

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 oxidized.
  • Flavonoids: These improve brain health and reduce the 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 the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Works toward building healthy gut bacteria

It 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, it 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 this has both these minerals in generous amounts. This helps you meet the daily requirement and can keep health complications at bay!

Aids to keep your eyes healthy

Dragon fruit contains beta-carotene, which helps to keep your eyes healthy. It can aid in the prevention of eye problems like cataracts. 

Dragon Fruit Benefits for Skin

Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants which help the skin. It helps with sunburn, acne, and dry skin. Regular consumption of dragon fruit helps in having a bright complexion. It also helps in reducing hair damage and making hair bright and shiny. 

Dragon fruit good for pregnancy 

Dragon fruit is ideal for pregnant women due to its vitamin, iron, calcium, magnesium, and folate content. Vitamin B and folate help to boost energy, calcium helps in a baby’s bone development, etc. 

Dragon fruit benefits for thyroid

As dragon fruit is high in B Vitamins, antioxidants, and magnesium, it is extremely beneficial for people suffering from thyroid issues. Dragon fruit has no unhealthy fats, which also helps to control thyroid problems. Thyroid disorder comes with gut issues. The high fiber content in dragon fruit helps combat this. 

Dragon Fruit for weight loss

Eating dragon fruit keeps you full for a longer duration. This curbs food urges and prevents binge eating. Dragon fruit also boosts metabolism, which can aid in weight loss. 

Dragon Fruit Side Effects

Dragon fruit is usually safe to consume for everyone. 

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
  • There are cases where your pee may turn pink/red. This may seem dangerous, but in most cases, your pee should return back to its regular color once the fruit has been flushed out of your system

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

Dragon Fruit Recipes

Dragon fruit is versatile. It can be eaten in numerous different ways. It goes well with ice cream making it very popular amongst kids. Its popping color can add vibrancy to your salads, shakes, smoothies, etc. You can incorporate it into your diet with the following recipes –

Dragon fruit shake:

Mix together cut dragon fruit, banana, sugar (optional), a couple of cashews, milk, and water and blend it all. Enjoy it chilled.

Dragon fruit salad:

Mix together sliced dragon fruit, watermelon, banana, and grapes in a bowl. Add a dash of salt and pepper. You could even toss in a scoop of ice cream for extra flavor

Dragon Fruit in Your Diet

There are many ways to add this to your diet, but before you do, always ensure you’re eating 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 yogurt bowl with nuts and dragon fruit
      • Prepare a fruit smoothie

Incorporating tropical fruits in your diet adds a great amount of flavor 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 dragon fruit you can consume in a day. Such recommendations eliminate the risk of overconsumption and any other complications. Thankfully, with the comprehensive healthcare platform provided by Bajaj Finserv Health, finding the best dietician in your vicinity is now just a few clicks away.

With this, not only can you find such health specialists, but you can also book appointments at their clinics online and avail of numerous other telemedicine benefits. For instance, you can consult doctors over the 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!

Published on 24 Nov 2020Last updated on 6 Jan 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Davinder Singh

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Davinder Singh

, BAMS 1


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