We all know that eating fruits and vegetables is beneficial for our overall health. However, when you visit a typical larger grocery store, there are many options for you to choose from that can leave you confused.
Do you prefer traditional choices such as apples and oranges or do you rather experiment with exotic food?
In any case, you should know that dragon fruit (also called “Pitaya” or “Cactus fruit”) offers many health benefits. If you want to delay aging, prevent high blood pressure, or even improve your figure, this exotic food will assist you with living a happier and healthier life.
Below are several cool benefits of making this fruit part of your daily diet.
HELPS WITH WEIGHT LOSS
One of the worst issues you will experience when trying to lose weight is being able to keep your food cravings at bay. Luckily, with the help of this exotic fruit, you will get your appetite under control.
Why? Because dragon fruit is rich in fiber and incredibly low in calories. Just see for yourself in this nutritional data table.
|100 g (3.5 oz)
Eating dragon fruit will help you feel full for a longer time than any other fruit thanks to the water and fiber content. It will also improve your bowel movements as well as your weight loss efforts according to MedicalDaily.com:
“Dragon fruit has a significant fiber content. This means it can improve the body’s bowel movements by facilitating the passage through the digestive tract. The consumption of this exotic fruit can help reduce the chances of conditions like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome.”
Thanks to fiber in dragon fruit, you will not crave that many sweets and junk food hence you will drastically reduce the number of calories consumed. Luckily, this will directly translate into gradual weight loss.
According to (not only) Self.com, the role of fiber is really important for losing weight:
“Fiber is a non-negotiable part of living a healthy life, whether you want to lose weight or not. But it can be especially useful if you’re looking to shed some pounds. […] “High-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables tend to be low in calories,” says Mashru. The nutrient also helps regulate your blood sugar, which is part of why refined carbohydrates like cookies that have had a lot of fiber removed can lead to intense blood sugar spikes.”
Blood sugar roller coaster is a sure way to gain some pounds.
When you eat something refined, your blood sugar rises. In an hour or two, the blood sugar plummets and you are hungry again. Therefore it is important to stay away from refined foods and eat as much fiber-rich fruits and vegetables as possible.
Not only that, dragon fruit is really low in fat and therefore won’t make you gain weight.
Fact is that fat yields the most calories per gram (9 calories), more than any other macronutrient (carbs and proteins yield around 4). Sadly, the ingested fat that is not used as an energy source is then directly stored in your body leading to weight gain.
RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“In conclusion, WPJ [white pitaya juice] protected from diet-induced hepatic steatosis and insulin resistance, which was associated with the improved FGF21 resistance and lipid metabolism.”
HELPS WITH MANAGING YOUR LEVELS OF BLOOD SUGAR
With the amount of dietary fiber that is found in dragon fruit, your body will not experience typical sugar spikes (also known as sugar rollercoaster). These can have detrimental effects not only on your weight loss efforts (making you crave for sugary foods) but on your health as well.
As pointed out by EverydayHealth.com, high blood sugar levels may not be visible:
“Symptoms of high blood sugar typically develop at levels above 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). “You can have high blood sugar that’s between 150 and 199 and feel perfectly fine,” Li-Ng says. Over time, your body can also get used to chronically high blood sugar levels, so you don’t feel the symptoms, she says.”
If you want to have a more stable blood sugar levels and improve the effect of Dragon fruit on it, then avoid these as much as possible:
- Drinking drinks with caffeine (tea & coffee)
- Job stress (cortisol from stress raises blood sugar)
- Dried fruits (they have too many carbohydrates)
- Drinking alcohol (carbs in drinks cause rise & drop in blood sugar)
- Eating refined carbs (refined carbohydrates contain no fiber)
Luckily, the fiber content in Dragon fruit keeps your blood sugar levels more stable.
Because of this, people suffering from diabetes or those that want to lose weight may benefit from this fruit. Just keep in mind that before you decide to use it to manage your diabetes and issues related to this health condition, you have to consult your doctor or medical professional.
RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“In addition, the antidiabetic effect of red pitaya has also recently been demonstrated. For instance, red pitaya significantly improved insulin resistance in rats and 600 g amount of red pitaya fruit consumption every day decreased the blood glucose level in type II diabetic subjects”
PROVIDES ANTIOXIDANTS FOR YOUR BODY
Antioxidants are molecules that combat free radicals that are roaming inside your body. Free radicals are damaging byproducts of metabolism and are known to cause massive problems to the human organism (even cancer) due to the “oxidative stress”.
Luckily, the dragon fruit is jam-packed with antioxidants (called phytonutrients) that combat free radicals and prevent them from messing with your vital functions and that combat this process called “oxidative stress”.
Among the most potent antioxidants in dragon fruit are:
- Vitamin C
The more of this fruit you can ingest, the easier it will be for your organism to go through a simple detox to maintain a healthier lifestyle and stronger immune system. Don’t forget that your diet should be based on lots of plant-based foods, vegetables, and fruits for a steady supply of antioxidants.
Here is an interesting section about antioxidants from TheAtlantic.com:
“Antioxidants help fight oxidation, a normal chemical process that takes place in the body every day. It can be accelerated by stress, cigarette smoking, and alcohol. When there are disruptions in the natural oxidation process, highly unstable and potentially damaging molecules called free radicals are created. Oxygen triggers the formation of these destructive little chemicals, and, if left uncontrolled, they can cause damage to cells in the body. It’s much like the chemical reaction that creates rust on a bicycle or turns the surface of a cut apple brown.”
As you can see, free radicals can do a lot of damage to your health. That is why you need to ingest as many natural antioxidants as possible.
FIRST RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“The study showed that the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiangiogenic and GST-inducing activities of betalains from red dragon fruit peels were enhanced through carbohydrate encapsulation.”
– Rodriguez, E.B., et al. (2016). “Health-promoting bioactivities of betalains from red dragon fruit (Hylocereus polyrhizus (Weber) Britton and Rose) peels as affected by carbohydrate encapsulation”, in Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. Vol. 96(14). Pp. 4679-4689
SECOND RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“The elongation of the preincubation period of a juice from star fruit (1.25 or 2.5%, v/v) with the microsomal fraction did not alter the CYP3A inhibition, suggesting that the star fruit did not contain a mechanism-based inhibitor. Thus, we discovered filtered extracts of star fruit juice to be inhibitors of human CYP3A activity in vitro.”
– Hidaka, M., et al. (2004). “Potent inhibition by star fruit of human cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A) activity”, in Drug Metabolism and Disposition. Vol. 32(6). Pp. 581-583
PREVENTS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE & HEARTH DISEASES
There are several main factors associated with elevated blood pressure and cardiovascular illness. The most prominent these days are stress, free radicals, and stiffened arteries. Luckily, there is a dragon fruit that can help you.
Due to its antioxidant properties, this food is known to help decrease high levels of oxidative stress – one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases.
According to Wikipedia.org, oxidative stress is dangerous if left uncontrolled and may cause various health complications:
“Oxidative stress is thought to be linked to certain cardiovascular disease since oxidation of LDL in the vascular endothelium is a precursor to plaque formation. Oxidative stress also plays a role in the ischemic cascade due to oxygen reperfusion injury following hypoxia. This cascade includes both strokes and heart attacks. Oxidative stress has also been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome. Oxidative stress is likely to be involved in the age-related development of cancer.“
Considering that dragon fruit essentially “cleanses” the interior of your body, it will assist in maintaining healthy tissue within and around your heart.
If you want to boost your cardiovascular health, then except Dragon fruit, you should add superfoods such as oranges, kale, red wine, garlic, dark chocolate, lentils, and almonds into your diet as well. Food should be your medicine, not your poison.
RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“Plasma malondialdehyde levels significantly decreased (P < 0.05), while superoxide dismutase and total antioxidant capacity significantly increased (P < 0.05) with DFE [Dragon Fruit Extract] treatment in comparison with group II. These data demonstrate that DFE treatment was effective in controlling oxidative damage and decreasing the aortic stiffness measured by PWV in STZ-induced diabetes in rats.”
– Anand Swarup, K.R., et al. (2010). “Effect of dragon fruit extract on oxidative stress and aortic stiffness in streptozotocin-induced diabetes in rats”, in Pharmacognosy Research. Vol. 2(1). Pp. 31-35
DELAYS AGING OF SKIN CELLS
There are millions of anti-aging creams and treatments that cost thousands of dollars. However, there is a simple solution that can be found in your local grocery store. As previously mentioned, this fruit has plenty of antioxidants that work against free radicals in your body.
These are not only responsible for physical ailments, but also for the aging of your skin.
The more antioxidants you will eat from this exotic fruit (phytoalbumin, vitamin C & lycopene), the tighter and younger your skin will become. What is more, this fruit includes phosphorus – an important mineral that is present in each and every cell of human body.
The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth and is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. Therefore, it is crucial to eat foods rich in this nutrient not only to maintain healthy skin cells (and youthful look) but to improve your overall health as well.
Just keep in mind that there are other minerals and vitamins such as vitamin C, selenium, vitamin E, omega-3s, vitamin A, and zinc required for healthy skin as well.
FIRST RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“The main function of phosphorus is in the formation of bones and teeth. It plays an important role in how the body uses carbohydrates and fats. It is also needed for the body to make protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues.”
– Wax, E., et al. (2015). “Phosphorus in diet”, in Medline Plus.
SECOND RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“Estimated lycopene intake of less than 2,498 mcg/day (50th percentile) increased risk of prostate cancer by double [Adjusted OR 2.5 (95%CI 0.99-6.31)]. Intake of tomatoes, watermelon, guava, pomelo, papaya, mango, oranges, dragon fruit, carrot, tomato sauce and barbeque sauce were higher in controls compared to cases. Intake of tomato sauce of more than 2.24 g/d (25th percentile), papaya more than 22.7 g/d (50th percentile) and oranges more than 19.1g/h (50th percentile) reduced prostate cancer risk by 7.4 (Adjusted OR 7.4 (95% CI 1.17-46.8)), 2.7 (adjusted OR 2.75 (95% CI 1.03-7.39)) and 2.6 times (adjusted OR = 2.6 (95% CI=1.01-6.67)), respectively (p < 0.05 for all parameters). No oxidative damage was observed among subjects.”
– Shahar, S., et al. (2011). “Roles of diet, lifetime physical activity and oxidative DNA damage in the occurrence of prostate cancer among men in Klang Valley, Malaysia”, in Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention. Vol. 12(3). Pp. 605-611
BOOSTS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
Your immune system is the most critical component of your organism as it keeps you from getting sick and catching infections. Sadly, from time to time it can get overwhelmed by infections and bacteria. That is why you need vitamins to support it, especially vitamin C among others.
Let´s have a look at what does PubMed says about the role of vitamin C for immune function:
“Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections.”
Luckily, fresh ripe dragon fruit has dozens of minerals and vitamins (per 100g), such as:
- Vitamin C (20.5mg)
- Vitamin B1 (0.04mg)
- Vitamin B2 (0.05mg)
- Vitamin B3 / niacin (0.16mg)
- Calcium (8.5mg)
- Phosphorus (22.5mg)
- Iron (1.9mg)
With the combination of these, you will be able to fight any infections and illnesses much easier. Another important thing to note is that dragon fruit is comprised of 80% water.
Considering that the human body requires an ample amount of water to stay hydrated and healthy throughout the day, having this as a part of your daily diet can be quite beneficial actually!
IT´S REALLY GOOD FOR COUGHS & ASTHMA
Respiratory disorders such as asthma and coughing caused by common cold or flu can be difficult to deal with on a day to day basis. Although this is not a substitute for medication, it can help make your cough less tedious.
Again, this is true thanks to its high level of antioxidants.
What is more, it is rich in vitamin C that makes your immune system stronger. This way your body can fight off infections more efficiently.
RELATED RESEARCH STUDY:
“Several cells of the immune system can indeed accumulate vitamin C and need the vitamin to perform their task, especially phagocytes and t-cells. Thus a vitamin C deficiency results in a reduced resistance against certain pathogens whilst a higher supply enhances several immune system parameters. With regard to the common cold different studies including meta-analyses underline that the prophylactic intake of vitamin C may slightly reduce the duration of the illness in healthy persons but does not affect its incidence and severity.”
– Ströhle, A., and Hahn, A. (2009). “[Vitamin C and immune function]”, in Medizinische Monatsschrift fur Pharmazeuten. Vol. 32(2). Pp. 49-54; quiz 55-56
With dozens of possibilities offered at your grocery store, this exotic fruit might be one of the best choices available. With the opportunity to have better heart health, easier weight management, and even to help manage ailments such as asthma and diabetes, consider dragon fruit as an excellent afternoon snack.