Dragon fruit, also known as strawberry pear, cactus fruit, or pitaya, is an eye-catching tropical fruit that can be white, pink, dark red, or pale yellow, depending on the variety. It has a pulp containing tiny edible black seeds. People often compare the taste of dragon fruit to a combination of kiwi, pear, and watermelon.
Dragon fruit is not only prized for its unique appearance and flavor, it is also known for its many health benefits. Research discovered that dragon fruit contains phenolics and bioactive phytochemicals, making it an excellent source of antioxidants. Its low calorie content makes it an ideal choice for those looking to lose weight. Thus, dragon fruit is not only a tasty snack, but also a beneficial snack.
Nutritional profile of dragon fruit
According to USDA100 grams of dragon fruit contain the following nutrients:
- Calories: 57 calories
- Water: 84g
- Protein: 0.36g
- Carbohydrates: 15.2g
- Fat: 0.14g
- Fiber: 3.1g
- Calcium: 9mg
- Magnesium: 7mg
- Potassium: 116mg
- Choline: 5.1mg
- Beta-carotene: 14 mcg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 44 mcg
- Folate: 7mcg
Why is dragon fruit good for weight loss?
Dragon fruit is a rich source of fiber, minerals and antioxidants as well as a high water content
This nutritious fruit helps to lose weight because it is:
low in calories
Dragon fruit is an ideal snack due to its low calorie and carbohydrate content. A single dragon fruit contains only 57-60 calories and 8 grams of sugar, far less than other fruits like apples.
The USDA reports that an apple contains 80 to 100 calories, which means dragon fruit is a much healthier choice in terms of calorie count. Eating low-calorie foods has proven to be an effective strategy for weight loss, as it helps create an energy deficit over time. A to study suggests that low calorie foods should be part of any successful weight loss program.
Rich in fiber
Due to its high fiber content, dragon fruit can help with weight loss by adding it to a healthy diet. Plus, fiber keeps you full and prevents you from overeating at mealtimes. Thus, dragon fruit satisfies your appetite for a long time.
Research shows that fiber-rich dragon fruit aids in better digestion. It acts as a probiotic, which increases the activity of good bacteria in the intestinal flora. These probiotics help fight constipation and improve digestion in general. It would help if you had regular bowel movements while on a weight loss journey.
Regulates blood sugar levels
Dragon fruit, especially the red flesh, controls blood sugar due to its low GI, high fiber and antioxidant content. The fiber helps slow the digestion of sugars in the fruit, preventing blood sugar spikes. In addition to calorie counting; maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing insulin resistance are key to weight loss.
Since dragon fruit affects sugar levels, do not eat it with diabetes medication. Together they can cause hypoglycemia.
Note from The Fitness Freak
Healthy and nutritious dragon fruit can help reduce calories. The low-calorie and fiber-rich nature makes dragon fruit ideal for weight loss. However, practice moderation as dragon fruit contains natural sugars.
Ways to eat dragon fruit for weight loss
You can eat dragon fruit as is. Cut the dragon fruit in half and scoop out the pulp from its rind with a spoon. The recommended serving of dragon fruit is one cup or one medium-sized fruit. However, this is an average estimate. Portion sizes vary from person to person. So talk to a nutritionist to find what’s right for you.
Finding the optimal serving size can be tricky if you have a weight loss goal. The main goal of any weight loss plan is to consume fewer calories than you burn. HealthifyMe nutritionists can calculate portion sizes based on the number of calories you plan to consume per day. Once you know how much to eat, they can help you design recipes suitable for weight loss.
People with diabetes should eat carefully. Those who are obese or overweight should also check the amount of food they consume. HealthifyMe’s professional coaches take into account your lifestyle and current health status to guide you through the weight loss process. You can also sign up for the HealthifyPRO CGM to learn how each type of food affects your blood sugar.
You should be careful of having too much dragon fruit. Due to its fiber content, it can lead to bloating, diarrhea, or upset stomach.
Selection and storage
Peak dragon fruit season is from summer to early fall. When choosing one, look for bright pink, evenly colored skin. However, be careful not to pick an overripe dragon fruit. Overripe dragon fruit has too many brown spots on it with a dry, shriveled stem.
You can store dragon fruit at room temperature for several days when uncut. Once cut, consume the dragon fruit immediately or store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for a day. Discard it when the inner flesh begins to brown.
Best time to eat dragon fruit
The morning is usually the best time to consume fruit. This is because the digestive system quickly breaks down the sugar in fruits to give your body all the nutrients. However, you can also eat dragon fruit as a mid-meal or evening snack.
Dragon fruit is a rich source of magnesium. According to USDA, a cup of dragon fruit contains nearly 12.6 mg of magnesium. Or a whole dragon fruit (about 75 g) contains 5.25 mg of magnesium.
Studies show that dietary magnesium intake leads to better quality and duration of sleep. Therefore, eating dragon fruit a few hours before bedtime can be a great starting point if you have trouble sleeping.
Dragon Fruit Recipes to Try
Dragon fruit, on its own, tastes less sweet than a kiwi. It has a subtle flavor, which goes well with salads, smoothies and yogurts. There is no need to grill, bake or freeze dragon fruit. However, here are some recipes suitable for weight loss to make dragon fruit even more delicious!
lemon dragon fruit
Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Dragon fruit pulp: 1 fruit
- Water: 1/2 cup
- Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
- Mix dragon fruit pulp with lemon juice and water
- Then add ice if needed.
Bowl of dragon fruit yogurt
Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Banana: 1/2
- Strawberries: 2-3
- Dragon fruit: Chopped pulp of 1 fruit
- Nuts: 4
- Chia seeds: 1 tablespoon
- Oats: 1 teaspoon
- Greek yogurt: 1 pot
- Cut up all the fruits and place them in a bowl.
- Add yogurt, chia seeds and rolled oats.
- Mix and serve.
If you want to add a variety of exotic fruits to your weight loss diet, incorporating dragon fruit is a great option. It’s low in calories and high in fiber, making it a great mid-meal snack. Plus, it can help regulate sugar levels, making it a beneficial food for people with diabetes. However, even if its regular consumption has no adverse effects, one should consult a nutritionist to find the right portion size.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q. How many calories does 1 dragon fruit contain?
A. The calories of a dragon fruit can be between 57 and 60 calories. Most of those calories come from the fiber and sugar content. However, calories may be higher when consuming dragon fruit juices, mixes, chips, and other varieties of snacks. This is because they contain added sugar, flavorings and preservatives.
Q. Is eating too much whole dragon fruit?
A. Eating a whole dragon fruit is generally safe because it is low in calories. Although dragon fruit is good for your health, too much of everything is bad. Overconsumption can cause allergic reactions in some people. The high dietary fiber content can also cause digestive upset. Also, the serving size may be different when you have diabetes.
Q. What is the downside of eating dragon fruit?
A. There is no downside to eating moderate amounts of dragon fruit unless you are allergic. However, overconsumption can cause digestive issues like abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. It may also interfere with the working of some diabetes medications.
Q. What are the 5 health benefits of dragon fruit?
A. The main benefit of dragon fruit is to stabilize blood sugar. The high fiber and water content of dragon fruit can also help with weight loss. Plus, prebiotic fiber aids digestion and antioxidants boost the immune system. The beta-carotene and lycopene contained in dragon fruit are also beneficial for cancer patients.
Q. Does dragon fruit clear your stomach?
A. Yes, the fiber in dragon fruit helps grow and nourish good gut bacteria. This, in turn, aids in the proper elimination and detoxification of waste. The antioxidants in dragon fruit and its extract can also help detoxify or cleanse your stomach and liver.
Sources of support
1. Attar ŞH, Gündeşli MA, Urün I, et al. Nutritional analysis of red-purple and white-fleshed Pitaya (Hylocereus) Species. Molecules. 2022;27(3):808. Published January 26, 2022. doi:10.3390/molecules27030808
2. US Department of Agriculture data. Type of data: Survey (FNDDS) | Food Category: Other fruits and fruit salads | FDC ID: 2344729 | Food Code: 63116010
3. Kim, Ju Young. “Optimal Dietary Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance.” Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome vol. 30.1 (2021): 20-31. doi:10.7570/jomes20065
4. US Department of Agriculture data. Type of data: Survey (FNDDS) | Food Category: Apples| FDC ID: 1102644 | Food Code: 63101000
5. Perween, Tamanna. (2018). Dragon Fruit: A super future exotic fruit from India.
6. Yijia Zhang, Cheng Chen, Liping Lu, Kristen Knuston, Mercedes Carnethon, Alyce Fly, Juhua Luo, David Haas, James Shikany, Ka Kahe, Association of Magnesium Intake with Sleep Duration and Quality: Results from the CARDIA study, Current developments in nutritionVolume 5, Supplement number 2, June 2021, page 1109