What Is Dragon Fruit? Benefits, Side Effects & More
You probably have heard about the legendary dragon fruit before. Maybe not by the same name as it is called by different names like Pitaya or Pitahaya or a strawberry-shaped pear in various regions.
The fruit is primarily produced in Asia, Mexico, Central America, and South America. While historians believe that the fruit first originated from Central America, the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation suggests that it was initially found in China.
According to a local legend surrounding its history, the fruit was created thousands of years ago by a dragon, who blew a burst of fire containing the fruit.
What Is Dragon Fruit Exactly?
It is most likely the peculiar design and shape that looks like an ancient Chinese dragon's head is responsible for the fruit's name. However, not much is known about the origination of the fruit.
With a leathery and bright red outer skin, the fruit contains a kiwi-like flesh and black seeds. The fruit is a part of the Hylocereus cactus family. The plant has a fast-growing rate and can produce for upto 20 years once fully established.
A collection of the dragon fruits on display (Photo:- rareseeds.com)
Surprisingly, the dragon fruit also comes in different types. Among the varieties that can be found in the outside world, the fruit is distinctly divided into three categories:
- Hylocereus undatus or pitaya blanca which has pink/red skin, white flesh, and black seeds
- Hylocereus costaricensis or pitaya roja which also has pink/red skin and black seeds but red flesh
- Hylocereus megalanthus or pitaya amarilla with yellow skin, white flesh, and black seeds
You may be reluctant to taste the fruit at first but do not worry. If you like sweet fruits, the exotic dragon fruit is a suitable dish for your palate. Despite its unique spikey appearance, the fruit compares to a combination of pear and kiwi in taste.
Benefits Of Dragon Fruit
It is appropriate to compare the pros and cons of anything, and the dragon fruit remains no different. With various nutrients and vitamins, dragon fruit is considered to be the right choice for sound health.
Serving of the delicious dragon fruit (Photo:- thespruceeats.com)
If you want to take in control of your caloric consumption to hit the beach this summer, the fruit is a perfect way to reduce your waistline. Only 60 calories per 100 gram of dragon fruit, it is the ideal way to achieve your weight loss plans.
Among other various benefits from the fruit are :
Improves Cardiovascular Health
Due to the antioxidants present in the fruit, it helps and possibly reduces cardiovascular health issues. Also, consumption of the edible seeds provides the human body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which helps reduce the LDL cholesterol levels.
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Lowering your cholesterol level ultimately helps promote healthy blood flow by reducing plaque buildup in your arteries.
Supports Your Immune System & Also Plays a Role in Cancer Prevention
For those who believe you have a weak immune system, this fruit is perfect for you.
Rich in vitamin C, dragon fruit provides a boost to the immune system. Ultimately, the addition of the said vitamin results in your body being capable of fighting off various infections. This includes simple issues like common cold and flu as well.
Pieces of the exotic fruit on display (Photo: draxe.com)
With the boost in immunity, the fruit also contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Through various research, it is also shown that lycopene helps help reduce cancerous cells in the body.
Lowers Blood Sugar in Diabetes
Dragon fruit is very supportive if you have type 2 diabetes. The fiber content in the fruit helps diabetic patients to stay full for longer and also help in losing weight; while normalizing the blood sugar levels in the body.
Aids Digestion & Skin Health
The dietary fiber, vitamin, and antioxidants present in dragon fruit also support digestion and promotes skin health.
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It is assumed that the fruit helps to reduce age spots, wrinkles, dry skin, and even acne. It is also said that the vitamins and minerals present in the fruit gradually repairs cell damage. Ultimately resulting in a more youthful appearance; however, it is yet to be proven.
Possible Side Effects
While the fruit itself has few to none negative impacts, the excessive consumption of the fruit can lead to a few harmful effects.
- Overeating the fruit can cause the stomach to be bloated and also result in flatulence
- If you have suffered from an ulcer before, research suggests that the dragon fruit may also be responsible for relapse. With its acidic content, it is recommended you do not try the dragon fruit.
- While it is helpful for type 2 diabetes, the fruit itself has high sugar content. Consumption in excess will result in high blood sugar ultimately causing diabetes
Overall, the dragon fruit is a healthy, delicious treat which can be consumed at any time. With its vast benefits and minor side effects, it is one of the most sought out fruit in the world.