They’re red, spiky and look exactly like their name suggests. To most, this is about all dragon fruit is good for — a bit of a gawp as they walk past the exotic fruit aisle of the supermarket, shaking their heads and making a beeline straight for the section where they sell “normal” fruits, like apples and oranges. All this would probably change, however, if those same people knew of all the health benefits this feisty looking fruit can offer.
Dragon fruit, otherwise known as pitaya, is native to South America but has become popular in many of the equatorial regions of the world, particularly Southeast Asia. In America, you might occasionally see a few crates of dragon fruit make their way to some of the northern states, but for the most part it really only has a solid foothold in Florida. With an increasing demand for dragon fruit in temperate climates, however, this seems likely to change in the near future, meaning you’ll soon be able to benefit from all of the wonderful health and beauty effects this wacky looking fruit brings to the table. Here’s 10 of them.
1. It’s good for your heart
Dragon fruit is great for your cardiovascular health, helping to decrease levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and increasing levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Studies show that regular consumption of dragon fruit may lower the risk of heart disease and maintain balanced blood pressure. Surprisingly, dragon fruit is also a healthy source of monounsaturated fats, which are an important part of maintaining a healthy heart.
2. It slows the process of aging
Dragon fruit has an impressive concentration of vitamin C, an antioxidant which can keep your skin tight, firm and supple. It does this by reversing the oxidative stress created by free radical action on your body’s cells, which is one of the biggest contributors to aging, both inside and out.
3. It improves digestion
Dragon fruit is an excellent source of fiber, which as we all know is a vital component of healthy digestion. Fiber improves the speed and ease of passage of food through your digestive system, ensuring regular bowel movements and preventing conditions like constipation or irritable bowl syndrome (IBS).
4. It prevents diabetes
The same fiber in dragon fruit which enables it to improve your digestive capacity can also significantly lower your risk of developing diabetes. It does this by helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, and by inhibiting blood sugar spikes than can hit after eating foods with a high glycemic index.
5. It fights cancer
The vitamin C in dragon fruit is a well known enemy of cancer, helping to reduce oxidative damage and mutation of cells by free radical activity in the body. But vitamin C isn’t the only anti-carcinogenic compound found in dragon fruit. These spiky curiosities also contain carotene, which has been linked to a number of anticarcinogenic functions, including reducing the development of tumors. Additionally, lycopene, the antioxidant responsible for the vivid red color of this fruit, has been directly linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
6. It boosts immunity
The high concentrations of vitamins, nutrients and minerals in dragon fruit makes it an excellent choice for giving your immune system a helping hand. Dragon fruit contains vitamins B1, B2, and B3, vitamin C, various essential minerals, calcium, phosphorus, iron, niacin and fiber — all important aspects of a healthy immune system.
7. It alleviates arthritis
Arthritis is a condition which acts on the joints and ligaments, causing pain and loss of mobility. Eating dragon fruit on a regular basis can help alleviate these symptoms, due to the anti-inflammatory compounds found in it’s speckled depths. These compounds work to lower the inflammation causing pain in and around the joints, thereby improving mobility in the process.
8. It treats acne
Not only can the vitamin C contained in dragon fruit be used for internal health, it can also be used to treat external issues as well. Simply cut a thick slice of dragon fruit, mix it into a paste in a small bowl, then apply it directly to areas of irritated or acne-prone skin. Rinse off with water, and repeat twice daily — your skin will look clearer, and be less prone to breakouts.
9. It soothes sunburns
Dragon fruit contains plenty of vitamin B3, which helps to moisturize sunburned skin and release heat from any areas which received a few too many rays. Use the following recipe to make an effective, natural paste to treat your skin.
10. It conditions hair
Dragon fruit makes a very useful natural hair treatment, especially if you regularly color your hair. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich compounds in dragon fruit help to keep your hair follicles open, allowing your hair to breathe and remain healthy and conditioned. Rub the juice or the pulp of the fruit directly into your hair, or find a quality conditioner which contains dragon fruit extract.
— Liivi Hess
The goodness of dragon fruit doesn’t stop there. Click here to find out more about this crazy, spiked, bringer of joy!