Dragon fruit grows on the Hylocereus cactus, also known as the Honolulu queen, whose flowers only open at night.
The plant is native to southern Mexico and Central America.
It goes by many names, including pitaya, pitahaya, and strawberry pear.
The two most common types have bright red skin with green scales that resemble a dragon — hence the name.
The most widely available variety has white pulp with black seeds, though a less common type with red pulp and black seeds exists as well.
Another variety — yellow dragon fruit — has yellow skin and white pulp with black seeds.
Dragon fruit may look exotic, but its flavors resemble other fruits. Its taste has been described as a slightly sweet cross between a kiwi and a pear.
Dragon fruit contains small amounts of several nutrients. It’s also a decent source of iron, magnesium, and fiber.
Here are the nutrition facts for a serving of 3.5 ounces, or 100 grams.
Protein: 1.2 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Carbs: 13 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin C: 3% of the RDI
Iron: 4% of the RDI
Magnesium: 10% of the RDI
Given the high amount of fiber and magnesium, as well as the extremely low-calorie content, dragon fruit can be considered a highly nutrient-dense fruit.
Provides Several Antioxidants
Dragon fruit contains several types of antioxidants.
These compounds may protect your cells from unstable molecules called free radicals, which are linked to chronic diseases and aging.
These are some of the primary antioxidants contained in dragon fruit pulp:
Betalains: Found in the pulp of red dragon fruit, these deep red pigments have been shown to protect “bad” LDL cholesterol from oxidizing or damaging.
Hydroxycinnamates: This group of compounds has demonstrated anti-cancer activity.
Flavonoids: This large, diverse group of antioxidants is linked to better brain health and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Potential Health Benefits
- Animal studies suggest that dragon fruit may provide various health benefits.
- Many of these are likely due to its fiber and antioxidant content.
- Dragon fruit contains prebiotic fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut — potentially improving metabolic health.
- Dragon fruit may improve certain features of metabolic syndromea condition associated with type 2 diabetes.
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