Supporting Liver Health With Dragon Fruit

  • Zaynab Karim BS Biochemistry, Queen Mary University of London, UK
  • Isobel Cronshaw BEng in Biomedical Systems Engineering, University of Warwick

Did you know dragon fruit can be the secret ingredient to a healthy liver?


The liver is responsible for a range of functions in the body and is arguably the most important organ. It can receive 13% of the body’s blood supply in just a moment.1 It is made up of 2 main lobes. These lobes are connected to tubes that enable the transportation of bile, which is made in the liver, to the gallbladder.

Liver disease is a global epidemic which accounts for 2 million deaths each year worldwide. Cirrhosis, a disease which destroys liver cells through excessive alcohol consumption or hepatitis, accounts for 1 million of those deaths. Both cirrhosis and liver cancer combined account for 3.5% of deaths globally.2

There are many foods that are hypothesised to support liver health; however, dragon fruit has been proven to be more effective in liver health.

Understanding liver health

The liver is an important vital organ located in the upper right area of the abdomen within the ribcage. It interacts with nearly every organ system in the body, such as the gastrointestinal tract and endocrine system (a system of glands that release hormones).3 It is involved in a variety of functions, such as:4

  • Regulating blood sugar
  • Making vitamins
  • Maintaining blood thickness
  • Preventing muscles from trembling
  • Filtering toxins from the blood
  • Producing bile

There are many different liver diseases, such as:5

The most common type of infection is hepatitis, which is a virus that causes liver damage.  It is spread through the blood or other body fluids or food and water contaminated by other people who are infected.

A few symptoms of liver disease include:6

  • Jaundice (the skin appearing yellow)
  • Abdomen pain
  • Leg and ankle swelling
  • Itchy skin
  • Dark urine
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Easily bruised

Some factors that might increase the risk of liver diseases could include:

  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Using shared needles
  • Being exposed to other people’s body fluids
  • Unprotected sex
  • Family history of liver disease
  • Being exposed to toxins

Nutritional composition of dragon fruit

This list shows dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants, such as beta carotene. This prevents cell damage and protects the body from free radicals, which cause diseases like cancer. Additionally, it is low in fat and high in fibre, which keeps you full longer in between meals. It also contains prebiotics, which can promote the digestion of food and kill bad bacteria in the intestines. Plus, the presence of iron allows oxygen to move around the body and gives energy. Coupled with iron, vitamin C can strengthen the immune system and absorb the iron.

 For every 100g of dragon fruit, the nutritional value is:7

  • 84g Water
  • 57kcal Energy
  • 0.36g Protein
  • 0.14g Fat
  • 3.1g Fibre
  • 4.3mg Vitamin C
  • 0.1 µg Selenium
  • 0.12mg Vitamin E
  • 14 µg Beta Carotene
  • 1 µg Vitamin A
  • 9 mg Calcium
  • 0.18 mg Iron
  • 7 mg Magnesium

Benefits of dragon fruit for liver health

The liver metabolises different substances that produce free radicals. These free radicals are uncharged molecules that are very reactive and, if left untreated, can disrupt the balance within the body and cause oxidative stress. This is seen to be hazardous and contributes to various liver diseases. Antioxidants can prevent these free radicals from reacting by targeting these molecules and donating electrons to stabilise them, delaying or preventing cellular damage.8 Some antioxidants are naturally produced by the body, such as ubiquinol and uric acid. However, other antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta carotene need to be present within the diet.9 This highlights the benefits of dragon fruit, as this food has all three micronutrients mentioned above.

Furthermore, vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant, is pivotal for the production of collagen, an important protein found in your bones, muscles and skin.10 Research shows vitamin C interacts with DNA and regulates the amount of collagen produced within the cell, contributing to its anti-ageing properties. In addition, collagen is made from an amino acid called glycine. This component has many benefits, but most importantly, it is able to reduce damage to the liver by protecting it from toxins.11 It is also beneficial in other ways, such as boosting the immune system. It is able to increase the rate at which bacteria are destroyed while also protecting the tissues.12

Dragon fruit is high in fibre, which plays an important role during digestion by absorbing nutrients and regulating metabolism. An increase in fibre consumption helps to prevent:13

  • A fatty liver
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Fibre is also proven to assist those suffering from cirrhosis. In 2018, 72 patients with the disease followed a high-fibre diet, which increased muscle mass but decreased fat mass. As obesity is a risk factor for liver disease, they were able to reduce body fat and, therefore, also reduce the risk of cirrhosis. Also, fibre can detoxify the liver by altering the gut microbiome.13

Incorporating dragon fruit into the diet

Dragon fruit is a unique food that, although beneficial, can be hard to incorporate into your diet. Here are some ideas on how you can blend this fruit into your daily diet:14

  • Smoothies- this is a great way to add dragon fruit to your diet (while also hiding its taste if it isn’t for you) and adding other fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Smoothie bowl- this breakfast special is a healthier alternative to ice cream and can be paired with cut fruit sprinkled on top.
  • Salad topping- dragon fruit can be shaved and added on top of salads just like pomegranate, giving a hint of sweetness to any salad.
  • Salsa- Combining dragon fruit, coriander, pineapple, olive oil, and lime juice can create a salsa that can be used for tortilla chips, fish, or garnish.
  • Ice cream- if you are craving something sweet like ice cream, incorporate dragon fruit within the ice cream mixture. Alternatively, it can be used as a garnish for other ice cream flavours like vanilla or strawberry.

There are many different dishes, both sweet and savoury, in which dragon fruit can be integrated and provide its full benefits.

Potential side effects and considerations

It is quite rare to be allergic to dragon fruit, but symptoms may include:

  • Swollen lips and tongue
  • Itchy throat
  • Burning throat
  • Nausea
  • Hives

If you experience these symptoms, consult your local GP for testing.

An excess amount of dragon fruit consumption can cause an array of issues. These include:

  • Stomach issues- due to increased dietary fibre, there is a reduction in the amount of nutrition absorbed by the intestines which can cause discomfort and gas.
  • Red urine- this can go back to normal after the dragon fruit has passed through the body and only happens when eaten excessively.
  • Excess antioxidants- an accumulation of antioxidants can do the opposite of a positive effect and increase the risk of diseases like cancer.15
  • Hypotension- when blood pressure decreases because eating too much dragon fruit increases the amount of potassium in the body.

These issues, however, only arise when dragon fruit is overly consumed. The recommended amount is 200g per day.16

Additional tips for liver health

There are more ways to prevent liver disease, such as:

  • Moderate alcohol intake- the recommended amount of alcohol per day is one drink for women and two drinks for men.17
  • Protection- whether it be using the barrier method during sexual intercourse or being clean and not sharing needles, safety is always important to prevent contagious viruses that cause liver diseases like hepatitis A, B, and C.
  • Vaccinations- those at a higher risk of being infected with hepatitis should get a hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Avoid contact with other people’s body fluids.
  • Avoid contaminated food and drink. Keep clean by washing your hands before eating or making food, and avoid tap water when in a developing country.
  • Be careful with aerosol sprays- use these products in ventilated areas, wear a mask and always follow the instructions on the bottle.
  • Protect your skin- when using toxic chemicals wear long sleeves, gloves, and a mask so it is not absorbed through the skin or breathed in.
  • Keep a healthy weight- making sure you are at a healthy weight is important, as obesity is the leading cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


Dragon fruit is beneficial in many different ways, especially for the liver. With its high vitamin C content combined with its range of antioxidants, it is a superfood that can aid in detoxifying the liver and even combat the ageing process. This versatile fruit can be incorporated into many dishes and fits into any normal diet. However, although there might be some concerns about the overconsumption of dragon fruit, any excess food can cause harm. The daily recommended intake of 200g of dragon fruit should not be exceeded. Paired with this, a healthy lifestyle, such as regular exercise, moderate alcohol intake and cleanliness, can contribute to a healthy liver.


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  13. E at. Fiber benefits liver health [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Oct 4]. Available from:
  14. McCormick [Internet]. [cited 2023 Oct 4]. How to eat dragon fruit: 7 ways. Available from:
  15. What’s the deal with antioxidants? ABC News [Internet]. 2017 Apr 20 [cited 2023 Oct 4]; Available from:
  16. Mewada P. 10 health benefits and recipes of dragon fruit(Pitaya) [Internet]. PharmEasy Blog. 2022 [cited 2023 Oct 4]. Available from:
  17. Health Risks and Benefits of Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol Res Health [Internet]. 2000 [cited 2024 Feb 22]; 24(1):5–11. Available from:
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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Zaynab Karim

BS Biochemistry, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Zaynab, a biochemistry graduate, possesses a robust background in writing and presenting information for the lay audience. With previous experience in crafting articles, she enthusiastically explores the captivating realm of medical writing. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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