Dragon Fruit's Antioxidant Properties

  • Titilayo Ologun Master's degree, Bioinformatics, Teesside University, UK
  • Samreen Noman Masters in Biomedical Sciences from Univerity of of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Germany

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Overview

The dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, stands out among the colourful range of exotic fruits lining the shelves of today's supermarkets not just for its eye-catching appearance but also for its amazing health advantages.1

You can eat dragon fruit as it is, or you can use the pulp to make juice, wine, jam, and jelly. Each dragon fruit is filled with a variety of small black seeds. In addition to being used in many different meals, including syrup, ice cream, sweets, yoghurt, and pastries, the seeds can be utilised to produce oil, which is a high source of important fatty acids.1,2

It is known as "dragon fruit" because of its brilliant red skin and dragon-like green fins. Dragon fruit is becoming more well-known for its outstanding nutritional profile and high antioxidant qualities, in addition to its eye-catching look.1,2 Dragon fruits are nutritious because they contain many specific substances called antioxidants that support the health of your body. Stress, inflammation, high blood pressure, diabetes, stomach and intestinal issues, and even colon cancer can all be helped by these antioxidants.2

Types of dragon fruit

There are two types of dragon fruit:

  • Red-skinned Dragon Fruit
  • Yellow-skinned Dragon Fruit

Dragon fruit comes in two types: red skin or yellow skin. The red-skinned one is healthier and has more benefits. It can have white or bright red flesh inside. The yellow-skinned dragon fruit only has white flesh inside. https://storage.googleapis.com/journal-uploads/wjpps/article_issue/1522486769.pdf

Dragon fruit: a nutritional powerhouse

Before delving into the specifics of dragon fruit's antioxidant properties, let's take a closer look at this tropical fruit. Pitaya, another name for dragon fruit, is the fruit of numerous cactus species.
Dragon fruits are produced from several cactus species and are cultivated in South Asia (countries like Vietnam and Thailand) and Latin America (countries like Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua). They are now being grown in other regions of the world, including Australia, Israel, and Reunion Island, because people appreciate them so much.

These cactus plants can withstand harsh conditions, are simple to grow, and provide fruit quickly. The fruit can also be kept fresh by being stored at cool temperatures. This makes it simple to obtain fresh dragon fruits, which is fantastic because they are healthy.2

It is known for being a great source of vitamins and minerals, particularly iron, magnesium, vitamin B, and vitamin C. But what makes them stand out amongst other fruits are their antioxidant properties.1

Nutritional value of dragon fruit

Here is the nutritional value of Dragon fruit in a serving of 100g: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/537279/nutrients

Nutritional ValueTypical ValuesPer 100g
Energy60 kcal60 kcal
Protein1.18 g1.18 g
Total Lipid (Fat)0 g0 g
Carbohydrates, by the difference12.94 g12.94 g
Fiber, Total Dietary2.9 g2.9 g
Sugars, Total including NLEA7.65 g7.65 g
Calcium, Ca18 mg18 mg
Iron, Fe0.74 mg0.74 mg
Magnesium, Mg40 mg40 mg
Sodium, Na0 mg0 mg
Vitamin C, Total Ascorbic Acid2.5 mg2.5 mg
Thiamin0 mg0 mg
Riboflavin0.1 mg0.1 mg
Niacin0.353 mg0.353 mg
Vitamin A, IU59 IU59 IU
Fatty Acids, Total Saturated0 g0 g
Cholesterol0 mg0 mg

Antioxidants in dragon fruit

Compounds called antioxidants are essential for preserving our health. Free radicals are dangerous chemicals that can destroy cells and play a role in several disorders. They are neutralised by these substances. A variety of antioxidants included in dragon fruit work to prevent oxidative stress and promote general health.

Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant in dragon fruit that is well-known for boosting the immune system and shielding cells from harm, is one of the main components.1

Flavanols, flavones, flavanones, phenolic acids, and tannins are just a few of the beneficial polyphenols found in dragon fruits. By fending against harmful elements in your body thanks to their antioxidant properties, these polyphenols can improve your health. Additionally, the brilliant hue of dragon fruit is a result of betalains, an antioxidant. The anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties of betalains have been linked 1,2
Betacyanin, an antioxidant that can kill bacteria, is abundant in the skin of pitaya (Dragon Fruit). Betacyanin, an antioxidant that can kill bacteria, is abundant in the skin of pitaya (Dragon Fruit). This colourful substance could be useful for keeping food fresh and making it look pretty.1

Potential benefits of dragon fruit due to its antioxidant properties

  • Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases: Antioxidants in dragon fruit can help protect cells from damage, potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.1
  • Skin Health: Antioxidants can keep your skin looking young and healthy by fighting the effects of ageing and things like pollution so you can maintain a youthful appearance.
  • Immune Support: Antioxidants can make your immune system stronger by shielding your immune cells from harmful stress caused by oxidation.3
  • Digestive Health: Eating dragon fruit, which has both fibre and antioxidants, can help keep your digestive system healthy by making sure you have regular bowel movements and avoiding constipation.1
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Research indicates that the antioxidants in dragon fruit might have the power to lower the chance of getting conditions that cause inflammation in the body.1

Research on dragon fruit's antioxidant properties

Research on the antioxidant potential of dragon fruit has provided insight into its health advantages. According to research, dragon fruit may aid in lowering oxidative stress in the body, which may minimise the chance of developing chronic diseases and improve general health.

According to a study, dragon fruit has a significant amount of antioxidant activity, which may assist the body fight free radicals1. Another study highlighted dragon fruit's potential role in reducing inflammation and oxidative damage, potentially contributing to improved cardiovascular health.2

The presence of ascorbic acid was also investigated, comparing the peel and the pulp of dragon fruit in another research. Ascorbic acid has wide range of uses that includes power antioxidant agent which neutralizes free radicals.4 The total phenolic content was also determined alongside. While the radical scavenging activity is the primary mechanism of antioxidant effect in foods.

Incorporating dragon fruit into your diet

If you're eager to harness the antioxidant power of dragon fruit, here are some practical tips for including it in your diet:

Fresh Fruit: Simply slice a ripe dragon fruit and enjoy it as a refreshing snack or dessert5.

Smoothies: Blend dragon fruit with other fruits, yoghurt, and a touch of honey for a delicious and antioxidant-rich smoothie.

Salads: Add diced dragon fruit to your salads for a burst of colour, flavour, and nutrients. https://storage.googleapis.com/journal-uploads/wjpps/article_issue/1522486769.pdf

Sorbet: Create a homemade dragon fruit sorbet for a guilt-free treat.

Dragon Fruit Bowl: Make a nutritious breakfast or snack by topping dragon fruit halves with Greek yoghurt, granola, and a drizzle of honey.1

FAQs

What are the other known names of dragon fruits?

Dragon fruits are also known as pitahaya,night-blooming cereus, strawberry pear, dragon pearl fruit, and Cinderella plant. Depending on the type of dragon fruit, it can have different shapes, thorns, skin colours, and pulp colours because of its diverse genes.1

Which parts of the dragon fruits is beneficial?

The flesh, skin, seeds, flower parts, and dried flower parts of dragon fruit are all rich in beneficial nutrients like antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C, and essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus.1

What diseases are dragon fruits good for?

Dragon fruit has been reported to reduce the likelihood of diseases like Diabetes, high cholesterol, a cluster of health problems, heart diseases, and cancer.1 https://storage.googleapis.com/journal-uploads/wjpps/article_issue/1522486769.pdf

What are the risks associated with eating dragon fruit?

Most people have no issues consuming dragon fruit as a delicious and healthy component of their diet. However, in extremely rare circumstances, some people may experience an allergic reaction after consuming it, such as hives or swelling. If it happens, stop consuming it and see a doctor.

If you eat a lot of dragon fruit at once, the high fibre content may cause bloating or constipation as well as making your stomach feel uncomfortable. Drink lots of water and gradually increase your fibre intake to prevent this.

The dragon fruits with white and yellow flesh from Israel had more sugar, specifically glucose and fructose. This can be at a disadvantage for diabetic patients.1

Summary

Dragon fruit is a special fruit because it has things called antioxidants that are good for your body. These antioxidants, like polyphenols and betacyanins, help fight harmful stuff in your body and can make you healthier. Eating dragon fruit may be beneficial for reducing the risk of developing colon cancer as well as reducing stress, inflammation, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stomach issues.

Due to its high concentration of these antioxidants, dragon fruit is a fantastic choice for a healthy diet. However, the number of antioxidants it contains can vary based on the environment, the type of dragon fruit, and where it is grown. However, further research is needed to determine the consistency of these properties across dragon fruits from different geographical regions.

References

  1. Nishikito DF, Borges ACA, Laurindo LF, Otoboni AMMB, Direito R, Goulart R de A, et al. Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, and Other Health Effects of Dragon Fruit and Potential Delivery Systems for Its Bioactive Compounds. Pharmaceutics. 2023 Jan 3;15(1):159.
  2. Paśko P, Galanty A, Zagrodzki P, Luksirikul P, Barasch D, Nemirovski A, et al. Dragon Fruits as a Reservoir of Natural Polyphenolics with Chemopreventive Properties. Molecules. 2021 Apr 9;26(8):2158.
  3. Sonawane MS. Nutritive and medicinal value of dragon fruit. ASIAN J Hortic. 2017 Dec 15;12(2):267–71.
  4. Choo WS, Yong WK. Antioxidant properties of two species of Hylocereus fruits. 2011;
  5. Al-Mekhlafi NA, Mediani A, Ismail NH, Abas F, Dymerski T, Lubinska-Szczygeł M, et al. Metabolomic and antioxidant properties of different varieties and origins of Dragon fruit. Microchem J. 2021 Jan 1;160:105687.

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Titilayo Ologun

Master's degree, Bioinformatics, Teesside University

Titilayo is a versatile professional excelling as a Biochemist, Public Health Analyst, and Bioinformatician, driving innovation at the intersection of Science and Health. Her robust foundation encompasses profound expertise in scientific research methodologies, literature reviews, data analysis, interpretation, and the skill to communicate intricate scientific insights. Driven by an ardent commitment to data-driven research and policy advancement, she remains resolute in her mission to elevate healthcare standards through her interdisciplinary proficiency and unwavering pursuit of distinction. With a passion for knowledge-sharing, she brings a unique perspective to each piece.

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