13 Proven Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit


Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit

What Are The Benefits Of Dragon Fruit? There are a lot of benefits for eating and applying dragon fruit topically to your skin and hair. We did a lot of research into this looking at every research paper and medical study we could find about this exotic fruit and its health and nutrition benefits. We outline a few below and then go into more depth on each one.

The benefits of dragon fruit are many and numerous. Its antioxidants, such as betacyanins can help protect from fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes. Hydroxycinnamates is another group of compounds contained in Dragon fruit that has demonstrated anticancer activity. The oligosaccharides within Dragon fruit improves gut health and promotes the growth of good bacteria. It can help lower blood pressure and reduce arterial stiffness. Dragon fruit has a high vitamin and mineral content that promotes healthy hair and skin. Topically it can help with acne and sunburn.


These are just a few of the benefits we researched, however, we will discuss these and more in this article.

In this article we will discuss the following:

  • Dragon Fruit Nutrition
  • Dragon Fruit Benefits For Skin and Hair
  • How Can Dragon Fruit Seeds Help Your Health?
  • How Your Liver Can Benefit From Dragon Fruit
  • How Dragon Fruit Can Benefit Diabetes, Blood Pressure and Lower Colon Cancer Risk
  • Dragon Fruit Peel Can Lower Cholesterol
  • Use Dragon Fruit To Boost Your Immunity and Improve Gut Health
  • More Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit


So, let’s discuss the nutrition factors of Dragon Fruit first.

Dragon Fruit Nutrition: Amazing Health Benefits

After researching Dragon Fruit on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)1 website, we found that dragon fruit has the following nutritional value in a serving of 100 grams (g) including the seeds which is roughly the size of one dragon fruit with its skin removed:

Red Flesh Dragon Fruit 100 grams

Calories: 60

  • Protein: 1.18 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 12.9 g
  • Dietary fibre: 2.9 g
  • Sugars (total): 7.65 g
  • Cholesterol: 0

Along with the nutrition you will get the following minerals and vitamins from 100 grams of Dragon Fruit flesh:

  • Calcium, Ca: 18 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron, Fe: 0.74 g
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Magnesium, Mg: 40 mg
  • Vitamin C: 6.4 mg
  • Vitamin A: IU: 59 IU
  • Riboflavin: 0.1 mg
  • Niacin: 0.353 mg

You may find slightly different nutrition values on other websites but this may be due to them giving the nutrition of a 6oz portion, which is 170 grams rather than 100 grams or may also be due to a different variety of Dragon Fruit.

The fruit nutrition above is for the red flesh variety whereas the white flesh variety may have different nutrition values. The moisture content is usually around 85% of the fruit.

After researching the Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry2 we found the nutritional profile of the white flesh dragon Fruit, which usually is the sweeter variety if its skin is yellow.

White flesh dragon Fruit 100 grams:

Calories: 67.7

  • Protein: 1.1 g
  • Fat: 0.57 g
  • Carbohydrate: 11.2 g
  • Dietary fibre: 1.34 g
  • Sugars (total made up of glucose and fructose): 8.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0

Along with the nutrition, you will get the following minerals and vitamins from 100 grams of Dragon Fruit white flesh:

  • Calcium, Ca: 10.2 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron, Fe: 3.37 mg
  • Sodium: 8.9 mg
  • Magnesium, Mg: 38.9 mg
  • Potassium: 272mg
  • Phosphorous: 27.75
  • Zinc: 0.35 mg
  • Vitamin C: 3 mg
  • Niacin: 2.8 mg

Dragon fruit also contains the B vitamin group (B1, B2 and B3) which has a very important role in overall health benefits for the body.

Vitamin B1 will help to increase your energy production and also assist in carbohydrate metabolism. The Vitamin B2 content in Dragon Fruit acts much like a multivitamin; it also assists in improving appetite.

The Vitamin B3 also present in the flesh of dragon fruit plays an important part in helping to lower your bad cholesterol levels; it also helps with moisturizing and smoothing the appearance of your skin. As well as this the vitamins and antioxidants in dragon fruit can improve the eyesight and prevent hypertension.

Dragon fruit contains antioxidants such as Betalains, Hydroxycinnamates, and Flavonoids which we will discuss their health benefits later in this article.

But first, we are going to look at the benefits of dragon fruit for your skin and hair:

Dragon Fruit Benefits For Skin and Hair

As discussed, a little above, the nutrients and antioxidants in dragon fruit flesh provide benefits for your skin and hair.

Dragon Fruit Benefits For Skin & Hair
Dragon Fruit Benefits For Skin & Hair

The Vitamin B3 in dragon fruit is in its natural niacinamide form and as such the vitamin helps to prevent water loss and also helps to retain the skin’s moisture content. It is also known to improve keratin production, the key structural material making up your hair and nails.

For those of you with ageing skin, Vitamin B3 in the form of niacinamide improves the surface structure of the skin, helping to smooth out the skin’s texture and thus reducing the look of wrinkles.

The Vitamin C content in Dragon Fruit helps with the production of collagen to improve the appearance of the skin.

In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information3 says Good skin health is associated with the regular intake of fruit and vegetables in a number of studies. The responsible active components in the fruits and vegetables for the benefits is unidentified, although vitamin C content is closely aligned with fruit (in this case dragon fruit) intake.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)3 went on to say that the signs of ageing in the skin can be improved through the intake of Vitamin C. A number of studies support this, although it seems that the actual measurement of skin changes can be difficult. Some of the studies include measurements of collagen deposition along with the wrinkle depth.

Because dragon fruit is high in Vitamin A (which is known to help to hydrate your hair naturally), B1 (which can promote your hair growth), B2 (which strengthens keratin, the main structural material of hair), B3 (which helps with the blood circulation into the scalp area) and Vitamin C (which can help to combat hair loss), dragon fruit is ideal for improving and benefiting the condition of your hair.

The minerals, calcium and antioxidants contained in dragon Fruit will also help to strengthen your hair fibres and protect them.

Although eating dragon fruit, along with any other fruit can be beneficial for your overall health, don’t expect eating loads of these fruits to regrow your hair if you have hair loss.

According to Daffodil International University4 dragon fruit mask has wide-ranging benefits for the skin.

Outlined below are the Benefits of Dragon Fruit Face Mask for the Skin:

To use on the skin simply blend the flesh into a pulp in a blender so that the consistency is smooth and apply directly to the skin, or add equal amounts of yoghurt when blending and apply.

Leave on the skin for 20 minutes before washing off with water.

Here is what this refreshing face mask can do for you:

  1. Help Soothe Your Sunburnt Skin

Dragon fruit flesh is loaded with nutrients such as Vitamin B3 that can help relieve your skin from sunburn.

It can help alleviate the skin from the aggravation, redness and irritation brought about by the ultra-violet radiation from the sun. Dragon fruit can also help shield your skin from the harmful suns UV rays.

  1. Help reduce acne:

If Dragon fruit is applied topically to your skin, it can help to reduce acne breakouts thanks to the abundance of the nutrient Vitamin C.

This cell strengthening vitamin is what helps to keep your skin from breaking out and will also keep it firm and healthy.

For the best outcome, apply this facemask two times a day.

  1. Makes your skin glow:

The Vitamin C in Dragon Fruit flesh may help against dullness and leave your skin looking fresh and revitalized.

  1. May help prevent signs of free radical damage:

Free radicals can damage cells and cause oxidative stress, which can leave your skin looking dull and dry. Topical application of Dragon fruit can help to counteract the free radicals to keep your skin from looking dull.

  1. Helps fight premature ageing:

A bad lifestyle, insufficient rest, poor eating habits, and damage from the sun can accelerate your skin’s ageing process which can result in untimely indications of maturing, resulting in wrinkles.

With consistent use of dragon fruit externally and internally it can keep free radicals from harming the skin.

  1. Acts as a natural moisturizer:

Dragon Fruit flesh is a very good skin lotion as it contains around 80 per cent of natural mineral water and comes packed with skin invigorating nutrients and cellular boosters.

Perhaps the most ideal approach to utilizing Dragon Fruit is to apply it directly onto the skin. Dragon Fruit Peel (Skin) can also be utilized and beneficial for your hair and skin.

I also found out that the skin or peel of Dragon Fruit is rich in anthocyanins and antioxidants.

According to National Institute of Health5 Anthocyanins have antidiabetic, along with anticancer, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity effects on the human body, along with this they also can also help in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

They go on to add that anthocyanins extracted from plants (such as dragon fruit) are recognized as potential pharmaceutical ingredients.

The Dragon Fruit skin is also a great source of soluble dietary fibre and can be made into a nutritious tea. Which if applied topically to the scalp can help with dandruff and improve scalp health.

How Can Dragon Fruit Seeds Help Your Health?

The tiny black seeds within the flesh of the dragon fruit contain compounds and oils that can help your overall health.

Dragon Fruit Seed Oil
Dragon Fruit Seed Oil

Dragon Fruit seeds contain rich amounts of oil. To utilize the oil from the Dragon Fruit seeds, you will need to cut a Dragon Fruit open down the middle and use a spoon to scratch out the seeds. Wash the seeds with water to remove any remaining flesh.

How To Get The Seeds From Dragon Fruit – Video

Using a mortar and pestle or something similar in your kitchen, crush the seeds, to break them open.

The Dragon Fruit seeds are rich in oils making up about 34% of the seeds. Of the oils, the Essential Fatty Acids are mostly comprised of linoleic acid and linolenic acid forming a significant percentage of the unsaturated fatty acids of the seed oil extracted.

Both red skin Dragon Fruit and yellow skin Dragon Fruit varieties contain around 50% essential fatty acids of the total oil composition.

There is also high concentrations of oleic acid 24 %, palmitic acid 18 % and stearic acid 8 %

Thus the Dragon Fruit seed oils may be considered as a good source of essential fatty acids including tocopherols, having a good oxidative resistance.

This means that they will retain their total tocopherol content even after being stored at room temperature for long periods of time.6

The main tocopherol in Dragon Fruit seed oil is α‐tocopherol or Vitamin E.

According to the National Institute of Health7 Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is fat-soluble and which stops the production of free radicals forming when fat undergoes oxidation.

By limiting the production of free radicals along with other mechanisms, Vitamin E as contained in dragon fruit seeds might help prevent or delay the many chronic diseases associated with free radicals.

In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is also involved in immune function, thereby improving the immune system.

According to the International Food Research Journal8, the approximate composition of dragon fruit seeds was pretty much comparable to apple seeds with similar high protein and oil contents.

Table 1. approximate composition of dragon fruit seeds (g/100 g)

ParameterH. polyrhizus H. undatusS. megalanthus
Carbohydrate44.846.348.7
Oil22.827.518.8
Protein26.323.128.6
Ash6.13.13.8

Dragon Fruit seeds are high in Linoleic acid which is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid and it is essential in the diet.

Linoleic acid consumption is important to counter the cholesterol increase effect of saturated fatty acid in the diet.

Pitaya seeds also contained lauric, myristic and palmitic acid.

Table 2. Fatty acid composition of three types of pitaya seeds oil (g/100g of total fatty acid)

Fatty acid (%)
Hylocereus undatusHylocereus
polyrhizus
Selenicereus
megalanthus
Lauric0.00.00.0
Myristic0.20.20.1
Palmitic13.715.914.4
Palmitoleic0.60.80.4
Stearic4.74.62.2
Oleic23.325.513.9
Linoleic53.848.765.4
Arachidic1.21.40.8
Behenic1.21.41.3

In conclusion, Dragon Fruit seeds (Pitaya seeds) have the potential to be developed as a functional food that is beneficial to the human body. It has very good antioxidant properties and its fatty acids were of good nature oil.

How Your Liver Can Benefit From Dragon Fruit

Red Pitaya betacyanins (these are the antioxidants related to the red pigment in the red Dragon Fruit flesh) protect from diet‐induced obesity and its related metabolic disorders, which is associated with improved inflammatory status and modulation of gut microbiota

The study suggested the use of red Dragon Fruit in the management of the non‐alcoholic fatty liver disease.9

Fatty liver disease means you have extra fat around the liver. However, if you have the fatty liver with inflammation then this can lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis, which are types of liver scarring, and liver cancer.

According to the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology9 red Dragon Fruit betacyanins consumption improved fatty liver symptoms.

Dragon Fruit Benefits For Body Building

Dragon Fruit, like most fruits, is high in carbohydrates which can fuel the muscles during training sessions. Being simple carbohydrates, they are available readily for the muscles as an energy source during a workout.

The fibre if Dragon Fruit (Pitaya Fruit) is mostly in the form of oligosaccharides which is a prebiotic promoting good bacteria in the stomach which can improve the immune function and gut health.

The Dragon Fruits nutrition profile makes it ideal to assist in reducing inflammation, muscle soreness and fatigue after working out.10

This makes it ideal to use in a post-workout protein shake, to help feed your cells with ideal nutrients after a training session.

How Dragon Fruit Can Benefit Diabetes, Blood Pressure and Lower Colon Cancer Risk

Prebiotic and Potential for risk reduction in colon cancer

Dragon Fruit is also showing many promising results in the benefit of diabetes and lowering colon cancer risk. If you have the patience and want the proof then read the more technical stuff below to support this.

A study published on the International Research Journal11a 11bmentioned that fermentation of these oligosaccharides (which are a type of carbohydrate formed by the linking together of simple sugars) in the bowl, showed an increase in the numbers of beneficial and good bacteria bifidobacteria, lactobacillus and decrease in the numbers of bad types of bacteria (bad in the sense of their involvement in human disease12) such as Bacteroides and clostridium.

Also stated in the International Research Journal11a 11b, that the fermentation of these oligosaccharides in the bowel had a positive prebiotic effect increasing Acetic acid, lactic acid, propionic and butyric acid production, which are beneficial short-chain fatty acids.

The main health benefits of these fatty acids including butyric acid and other short-chain fatty acids are their ability to provide your colon cells with energy.13

The mixture of these short-chain fatty acids also has the tendency to inhibit Caco-2 cells and so has the potential for risk reduction in colon cancer.

It’s interesting to note that research papers including PubMed14 have stated that sodium butyrate actually blocked the growth of colorectal cancer cells.

Researchers suggest that an increased intake of dietary fibre can increase the amounts of butyric acid that the gut produces as beneficial bacteria break down the fibre, may help to reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Dragon Fruit Benefits for Diabetes

A Research paper that appeared in the journal PLOS ONE15 looked at how eating dragon fruit had an effect on blood glucose control in those with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.

According to this research paper, animal studies had shown better control of diabetes with the consumption of dragon fruit.

This was due to the dragon fruits ability to encourage the growth of pancreatic cells which make insulin.

The research paper closely examined a number of clinical trials that compared the effects of consuming dragon fruit in people that had the condition of type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.

The research concluded that the effect of dragon fruit on fasting glucose in those people that had prediabetes was worthy of attention and significant.

It was also found that the more a person eats dragon fruit, the greater the benefits in blood sugar levels.

However, this particular study did not find any direct link between the consumption of dragon fruit and improvements in type 2 diabetes.

The researchers mentioned that a trend towards greater blood glucose reduction with higher consumption was observed however they recommend that more studies needed to be conducted regarding prediabetes and the consumption of dragon fruit.

Further studies would help determine if eating dragon fruit could help stabilize blood sugar levels.

Research papers on PubMed16 mentioned that both the red and white varieties of dragon fruit have been shown to positively reduce insulin resistance along with fatty liver in mice. This research looks very promising for similar benefits in human studies with dragon fruit consumption

Dragon Fruit Benefits For Blood Pressure

In a further study published on the US National Library of Medicine17 website, rats that had diabetes treated with an extract from the fruit had a significant 35% reduction in malondialdehyde, which is a marker of free-radical damage.

The paper also went on to mention that they also had less arterial stiffness, compared to the control group implying dragon fruit benefits for blood pressure.

Dragon Fruit Peel Can Lower Cholesterol

Another little interesting fact about Dragon Fruit is its potential to lower cholesterol.

A paper published in 4th International Seminar of Mathematics, Science and Computer Science Education Journal of Physics18 studied the correlation of red dragon fruit peel to the improvement of blood lipid levels of hyperlipidaemia male mice.

Hyperlipidaemia is a condition where there are high amounts of fat particles in the blood. Examples of fat particles would include cholesterol and triglycerides.

It’s known that these fat particles or lipids can deposit in blood vessel walls resulting in a restriction of blood flow. This can then create a potential risk of a heart attack and stroke.19

In this study on dragon fruits role in reducing cholesterol, male rats were fed a high fat diet for one month to induce hyperlipidemia.

The paper stated that after given the peel of dragon fruit, the rat’s blood lipid levels changed.

The study results indicated the mean of total cholesterol, along with triglyceride, HDL, and LDL levels after feeding the rats on the red dragon fruit peel powder decreased.

The results also showed that total cholesterol, along with the triglyceride and HDL levels decreased in relation with increasing doses of red dragon fruit peel powder, but the levels of HDL increased.

Based on the doses of red dragon fruit flour administered to the rats then the dose amount of 200 mg per Kg of Bodyweight can lower total cholesterol.

This benefit can be attributed to red dragon fruit peels bioactive components that can successfully prevent the rise or increase in blood lipid levels.

Use Dragon Fruit To Boost Your Immunity and Improve Gut Health

One of the most beneficial aspects of consuming dragon fruit is its ability to give a boost to your body’s immune system. The high levels of Vitamin C found in dragon fruit flesh are one of the strongest assets to your body’s immune system, and it stimulates the activity of other antioxidants in the body as well.

Along with the powerful antioxidant quality of vitamin C that boosts the immune system, dragon fruits also contain other sources of natural antioxidants including carotene. Carotene, found in dragon fruits has been linked to a number of anti-carcinogenic qualities.

The Antioxidants and Fibre in dragon fruit that will help boost your immune system also include Betalains, Hydroxycinnamates and Flavonoids.

We will discuss one by one how these compounds can benefit your health.

  • Betalains: This antioxidant is found in the pulp of red dragon fruit, the deep red pigments protect “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing or becoming damaged. PubMed20 published a paper on potential health effects of betalains in humans and mentioned that Dragon Fruits close cousin the cactus pear fruit was also a good source of bioavailable betalains
  • Hydroxycinnamates: This group of antioxidant compounds has demonstrated anticancer activity in test-tube and also animal studies and research is showing important results regarding these compounds and their derivatives in cancer treatment and prevention.21
  • Flavonoids: This very large and very diverse group of antioxidants has been linked to better brain health22 along with a reduced risk of heart disease.23

The final boost to your body’s immune system from the regular consumption of dragon fruit is its antifungal and antibacterial qualities.

These qualities can help to increase the white blood cell count in your body, which in turn will defend against toxins and also inhibit the entrance or growth of fungal or bacterial infections in the body.

You will also find that dragon fruit stimulates active cell regeneration and will also speed up healing, so wounds and bruises will heal at a faster rate. 24

More Health Benefits of Eating Dragon Fruit

If all of the above wasn’t enough there are a lot more health benefits of eating dragon fruit. The more I research the more I keep finding out about this exotic fruit and its ability to help improve your health.

According to Research Journal of Chemical and Environmental Sciences24 The phytochemical captin, used as a medication to treat heart problems, is present in the dragon fruit itself, and oil in the seeds of the dragon fruit functions as a mild laxative.

The tiny black seeds of dragon fruits are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help reduce triglycerides and also lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders.

So dragon fruit again is apparently good for the heart.

The Research Journal *24 also stated that eating dragon fruit can also help the body remove toxic heavy metals and improve eyesight.

The Lycopene antioxidant, responsible for the red colour in the red dragon fruit variety, has also been shown to be linked with a lower prostate cancer risk.

Dragon fruit also has great benefits for people suffering from arthritis, so much so that’s it’s commonly referred to as the “anti-inflammatory fruit.”

Finally, the United States of Agriculture25 mentioned in a publication entitled: ‘Healthful and nutritional components in select Florida tropical fruits’25 on its website that tropical fruits including red dragon fruit and white dragon fruit, have excellent antioxidant capacity which protects against cancer, arthritis and many other ailments by removing free radicals from the human body.

Red and white flesh dragon fruit were among the 14 tropical fruits in the study.


References:

1USDA FoodData Central, Dragon Fruit Cubes With Seeds
2Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry: Dragon fruit: An exotic super future fruit of India
3NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health
4Daffodil International University: Preparation of Herbal Facial Mask with Dragon Fruit for healthy skin
5NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information: Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits
6Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society: Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus spp.) Seed Oils: Their Characterization and Stability Under Storage Conditions
7National Institues Of Health: Vitamin E
8International Food Research Journal: Determination of pitaya seeds as a natural antioxidant and source of essential fatty acids
9Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology: Red pitaya betacyanins protects from diet‐induced obesity, liver steatosis and insulin resistance in association with modulation of gut microbiota in mice
10Muscle&Fitness: Fuel Your Gains With Dragon Fruit
11aInternational Food Research Journal: Digestibility, fecal fermentation and anti-cancer of dragon fruit oligosaccharides
11bInternational Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: Isolation And Characterization Of Oligosaccharides Composition In Organically Grown Red Pitaya, White Pitaya And Papaya
12NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information: Bacteroides: the Good, the Bad, and the Nitty-Gritty
13NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information: Butyrate, Neuroepigenetics and the Gut Microbiome: Can a High Fiber Diet Improve Brain Health?
14NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information: Sodium Butyrate Induces Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress and Autophagy in Colorectal Cells: Implications for Apoptosis
15PLOS ONE: Effect of dragon fruit on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis
16PubMed: White Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) Juice Attenuates Insulin Resistance and Hepatic Steatosis in Diet-Induced Obese Mice
17NCBI National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of dragon fruit extract on oxidative stress and aortic stiffness in streptozotocin-induced diabetes in rats”
18Journal of Physics: The role of red dragon fruit peel (Hylocereus polyrhizus) to improvement blood lipid levels of hyperlipidaemia male mice
19WebMD: What Is Hyperlipidemia?
20PubMed: Absorption, excretion, and distribution of dietary antioxidant betalains in LDLs: potential health effects of betalains in humans
21PubMed: The role of phenolic compounds in the fight against cancer–a review
22PubMed: Flavonoids and brain health: multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms
23PubMed: Flavonoid-rich fruit and vegetables improve microvascular reactivity and inflammatory status in men at risk of cardiovascular disease
24Research Journal of Chemical and Environmental Sciences: Miraculous Health Benefits of Exotic Dragon Fruit
25Agricultural Research Service: Healthful and nutritional components in select Florida tropical fruits

Juan Paul

We are Juan & Raquel, the guys behind Fruit Information. We've been interested in fruit over the last few decades and have been busy with improving our knowledge of the different varieties. I, Juan, have been almost a fruitarian for over a decade and almost solely living on fruits as my main dietary intake. My wife Raquel has worked on a fruit farm and also worked in a nursery and seedlings shop. She is a very experienced and knowledgable farmer. We have recently undertaken a new Dragon Fruit farm with friends.

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