The dragon fruit is still not a common fruit choice in the US and Europe. However, it naturally grows and is popular in Southeast Asia and parts of South America. Dragon fruit did not come into the US commercially before 2008 due to concerns of the pesticides used on them. Currently, dragon fruit can be brought into the US, but they can still be harder to find.
Dragon fruit is part of the cactus family, and the outer layer of the dragon fruit has leather like layers that resemble a cactus. Inside the fruit, the flesh is white or a deep pink and has small, edible black seeds.
Dragon fruit has a mild, sweet taste and can be enjoyed scooping the flesh out from the outer layer with a spoon.
Dragon fruit, like other fruits, is very low in calories and is a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Dragon fruit can be considered beneficial for heart health. Eating foods high in nutrients and low in calories can be beneficial for weight loss as well.
Antioxidants from foods like fruits and vegetables can help lower risk for certain cancers. According to Produce for Better Health Foundation, a study (1) looking at over 400,000 people over 9 years concluded those who ate more fruits and vegetables had reduced risk for developing some types of cancer.
This study also concluded adding an additional 1.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day was associated with about a 2-3% lowered incidence of cancer.
Dragon fruit can help add additional antioxidants to your diet. One study (2) found over 80 mg of total polyphenolic compound in half a gram of dried dragon fruit extract. Polyphenolic compound can be a way to measure antioxidant capacity of a food.
Pink dragon fruits are also a source of the antioxidant lycopene. A 2013 study (3) getting lycopene from dietary sources can have a preventative role for some diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends getting 400 grams of fruits and vegetables daily to increase consumption of lycopene.
Dragon fruit can be beneficial for heart health because it is a source of antioxidants, potassium, and the seeds are a source of heart healthy polyunsaturated fats. A 2010 study (4) with rats found that dragon fruit extract was effective for lowering oxidative damage and helped keep arteries smooth in diabetic rats.
There needs to be more research involving dragon fruit’s effect on aortic stiffness in humans, but this initial study suggests dragon fruit could have a beneficial role in reducing stiffness in arteries.
Eating dragon fruit as part of a healthy diet can also help lower harmful blood cholesterol levels (5).
The polyunsaturated fats from the seeds in dragon fruit can also be beneficial for heart health. Harvard Health (6) suggests eating foods that are a source of polyunsaturated fats in place of saturated fats or foods high in added sugar may help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Dragon fruit is a source of fiber which is beneficial for the digestive and cardiovascular system. Soluble fiber can help lower cholesterol and aid in better blood glucose regulation.
Vitamins and minerals
Dragon fruit provides many different vitamins and minerals. For example, a piece of dragon fruit provides about 10% Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C and B vitamins which are needed for metabolizing carbohydrates for energy and for proper cell division.
Vitamin C acts like an antioxidant and is needed to build healthy skin, gums and connective tissue.
One dragon fruit provides (7) about 9 mg of calcium, 36 mg of phosphorus, and 0.65 mg of iron. Calcium and phosphorus are both considered bone building nutrients.
Dragon fruit provides a little bit of iron which is needed to make healthy red blood cells.
How to use dragon fruit
Dragon fruit can be a sweet, healthy snack on its own. You simply need to wash the fruit and cut in half. Use a spoon to scoop out the pink or white flesh with the seeds.
The flesh is the edible part of the fruit. The flesh should come away from the skin easily if the fruit is ripe.
Because of dragon fruit’s unique color, it can be a fun addition to fruit salads, kebabs, smoothies or regular salads.
If you have never tried dragon fruit before and have access to it at a market near you, try it to add some variety in your fruit intake.
Dragon fruit naturally grows in the tropical climate of Southeast Asia or South America. These cultures are familiar with dragon fruit and use it many different ways.
In most Western societies, eating dragon fruit is still pretty limited because dragon fruit is coming from another part of the world.
Dragon fruit is part of the cactus family, and the texture of the outside layer somewhat resembles scales of a dragon.
The edible part of the dragon fruit is the inside layer of white or pink flesh filled with small back seeds. The seeds are edible and actually a source of heart healthy polyunsaturated fats.
Enjoying dragon fruit is easy. You just need to wash it, slice it and scoop out the flesh. Dragon fruit can be enjoyed like other fruit: as is or added into fruit salad, used on kebobs, topping for yogurt or in smoothies.
Dragon fruit is a source of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron. Like other fruits and vegetables, it is also a rich source of antioxidants.