Dragon Fruit's Role In Heart Health


Importance of dragon fruit

Dragon fruit, also known as pitaya, is a low-calorie fruit that is high in fibre and is a good source of multiple vitamins and minerals. It has bright red skin with green scales and the taste has been described as similar to pear and kiwi.

Significance of heart health 

The heart is the main organ of the cardiovascular system that is responsible for the transportation of oxygen and pumping blood to every part of the body. A healthy heart is very important for overall good health. 

In Western nations, cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death.1 There are many factors that can contribute to a healthy heart, and a healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent cardiovascular disease.2 This article will explain how fruits such as dragon fruit can help to improve heart health. 

Nutritional profile of dragon fruit 

There are different types of dragon fruit. Most dragon fruit have white flesh and black seeds which can taste sour. Some dragon fruit may be red inside with black seeds, which is a sweeter and juicer type. This is a good source of vitamin C. The following are the key nutrients found in dragon fruit.


Fibre is important to help regulate the body's use of sugars and helps to keep hunger and blood sugars regulated. Children and adults need at least 25g to 35g of fibre per day.3 Dragon fruit is a good source of fibre as it can provide up to 7g of fibre in a serving. This is good for heart health too as fibre helps to manage type 2 diabetes and body weight. 


Dragon fruit contains different antioxidants which is important for neutralising free radicals, this is important as free radicals can damage cells and cause inflammation which can lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Some of the antioxidants found in dragon fruit are flavonoids, phenolic acid and anthocyanins.4 A study conducted on Betalains from dragon fruit's role in vascular function, showed that eating dragon fruits improved arterial stiffness and blood pressure.5 


Dragon fruit is high in vitamin C which helps your body absorb iron to support the immune system. Iron is important for moving oxygen around the body and providing energy. If iron levels are too low this can cause anaemia and cardiovascular problems, so it is important that the body is getting enough iron.


Minerals are nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy. Dragon fruit provides a high amount of magnesium compared to some other fruits. This helps in reactions needed to break down food into energy and bone formation. Additionally, it may aid in lowering the chance of heart disease. It also contains high amounts of potassium.

Role of dragon fruit in heart health 

Eating a diet high in saturated fats and cholesterol has been linked to heart disease due to factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and uncontrolled diabetes. Dragon fruit contributes to many factors of heart health, which are: 

  • Fiber for cholesterol management 
  • Antioxidants for reducing oxidative stress 
  • Vitamins and minerals for blood pressure regulation 

Cholesterol management 

Importance of managing cholesterol levels 

Having high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can lead to plaque build-up in the arteries, which can result in heart disease or stroke. In comparison, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is a good cholesterol, high levels of this can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.6 

Cholesterol can be managed through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. To lower cholesterol, you should eat less saturated fats such as butters, cheese and cakes and eat more oily fish, nuts and fruits and vegetables. It is important to stay active so you should aim to do 2-3 hours of exercise in a week, this can include walking, swimming or participating in sports. 

Smoking and alcohol can also raise cholesterol and lead to problems such as heart attacks so this should be limited.

Role of dragon fruit in reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol 

Fibre can reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Dragon fruit also contains betalains which gives red colour to the fruit and also help in reducing the LDL cholesterol. One study researched the effect of red dragon fruit juice on cholesterol levels and they found that the group that was given the red dragon fruit juice can increase VOmax (the optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise and is used as a way of measuring a person's individual aerobic capacity) and reduce cholesterol levels.7 

Antioxidant effects 

Oxidative stress and its impact on heart health 

Oxidative stress occurs when your antioxidant levels are low. It is caused by an imbalance between the production and accumulation of oxygen reactive species (ROS) in the cells and tissues.8 In the cardiovascular system, oxidative stress and increased ROS leads to decreased nitric oxide availability and vasoconstriction causing arterial hypertension. Oxidative stress can also cause myocardial infarction (or heart attacks), ischemia or heart failure.9

Role of dragon fruit’s antioxidants 

Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, and polyphenols which can neutralise free radicals by donating electrons to stabilise them and prevent them from causing cellular damage. 

Chronic inflammation is also linked to oxidative stress and cardiovascular diseases. The antioxidants in dragon fruit have anti-inflammatory properties, and thus help to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart-related issues.9 

Blood pressure regulation 

Role of vitamins and minerals in maintaining blood pressure 

A high blood pressure can affect the blood vessels, heart and surrounding organs. If your blood pressure is consistently high, it can increase the risk of related conditions such as heart disease and heart attacks. 

Some factors that can lead to a high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart-related problems are being overweight, eating too much salt and not doing enough exercise. Therefore, you should make some lifestyle changes to lower blood pressure such as eating a healthy diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly to maintain blood flow and to reduce weight. 

The minerals sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium play a role in the normal regulation of blood pressure and in the control of arterial resistance.

Role of dragon fruit in regulation of blood pressure

Dragon fruits are a good source of potassium and magnesium. Potassium is essential for balancing sodium levels in the body. High levels of sodium can lead to water retention and higher blood pressure.11 Potassium helps to counteract the effects of sodium by promoting vasodilation so blood can flow much more easily, and blood pressure can be reduced, lowering the risk of heart related conditions. 

Magnesium is involved in the regulation of vascular tone, which refers to the constriction and relaxation of blood vessels. Adequate magnesium levels help blood vessels relax, preventing them from constricting too much and reducing resistance to blood flow. By maintaining proper vascular tone, magnesium can help to prevent high blood pressure and maintain heart health. 

Potential side effects 

Dragon fruit is generally safe to eat but may cause allergic reactions in some people.

This can include: 

  • Swelling of the tongue 
  • Hives 
  • Vomiting 

If such symptoms occur, it is important to see a doctor or healthcare professional for medical guidance and treatment. 


Dragon fruit is a great source of many vitamins and minerals that has a range of health benefits to support heart health such as increasing iron and reducing blood pressure. A healthy, balanced diet that is high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats can reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels so that good heart health is maintained. Dragon fruit can be incorporated into your diet in many ways, such as in fruit bowls, smoothies, or juices. However, like other fruits this should be eaten in moderation as too much fruit can also cause side effects. 


  1.  Mc Namara K, Alzubaidi H, Jackson JK. Cardiovascular disease as a leading cause of death: how are pharmacists getting involved? Integrated Pharmacy Research and Practice [Internet]. 2019 Feb;Volume 8(8):1–11. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6366352/ 
  2. Diab A, Dastmalchi LN, Gulati M, Michos ED. A Heart-Healthy Diet for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: Where Are We Now? Vascular Health and Risk Management [Internet]. 2023 Apr 21;19:237–53. Available from: https://www.dovepress.com/a-heart-healthy-diet-for-cardiovascular-disease-prevention-where-are-w-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-VHRM 
  3. Barber TM, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, Weickert MO. The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre. Nutrients. 2020 Oct 21;12(10):3209. 
  4. Saenjum C, Pattananandecha T, Nakagawa K. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Phytochemicals and Related Stable Paramagnetic Species in Different Parts of Dragon Fruit. Molecules. 2021 Jun 10;26(12):3565. 
  5. Cheok A, Xu Y, Zhang Z, Caton PW, Rodriguez-Mateos A. Betalain-rich dragon fruit (pitaya) consumption improves vascular function in adult men and women: a double-blind, randomized controlled crossover trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2022 Mar 10; 
  6. Grover SA, Dorais M, Coupal L. Improving the prediction of cardiovascular risk: interaction between LDL and HDL cholesterol. Epidemiology (Cambridge, Mass) [Internet]. 2003 May 1 [cited 2023 Nov 10];14(3):315–20. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12859032/#:~:text=Results%3A%20Levels%20of%20LDL%20and 
  7. Harahap NS, Sunarno A, Simatupang N, Suprayitno. The Effect of Red Dragon Fruit Juice Towards Cholesterol Level and Maximum Aerobic Capacity (VO2max) on Sport Science Students Treated with Heavy Physical Exercise. Journal of Physics: Conference Series. 2020 Feb;1462:012030. 
  8. Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, Pallio G, Mannino F, Arcoraci V, et al. Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity [Internet]. 2017 Jul 27;2017(8416763):1–13. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/ 
  9. 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 [Internet]. 2023 Jan 1 [cited 2023 Mar 8];15(1):159. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1999-4923/15/1/159 
  10. Karppanen H. Minerals and blood pressure. Annals of medicine [Internet]. 1991;23(3):299–305. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1930921 
  11. Haddy FJ, Vanhoutte PM, Feletou M. Role of potassium in regulating blood flow and blood pressure. American Journal of Physiology Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. 2006 Mar 1;290(3):R546-552. 
  12. Montezano AC, Antunes TT, Callera G, Touyz RM. Magnesium and Vessels. Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins. 2013;1238–43. 
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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Alina Khan

Alina is a recent graduate with a degree in Biomedical Science. She is always ready to expand her knowledge in health and science in topics such as oncology and neurology. As a medical writer at Klarity she would like to share her interest and educate others about a variety of healthcare topics to improve public awareness.

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