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Introduction

Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that has a distinct look, crunchy texture, and a sweet flavour. Its appearance is inspired by a fire-breathing dragon and its high antioxidant content has an important function in lowering the risk of cancer and diabetes.1

Healthy bones also help us to move, protect our essential organs, and store the nutrients and minerals we require to survive. Individuals with poor bone health are more likely to experience pain and fractures, which can lead to other major physical issues such as limited mobility.2

While dragon fruit is not a direct source of calcium like dairy products or leafy greens, it can still contribute to bone health in several ways:

Mineral content

Dragon fruit contains essential minerals like phosphorus and magnesium, which are important for maintaining healthy bones. Phosphorus is a major component of bone mineralization, and magnesium plays a role in bone density.

Vitamin C

Dragon fruit is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that plays a crucial role in collagen formation. Collagen is a protein that provides structure to bones, tendons, and ligaments. A diet rich in vitamin C can help support the production and maintenance of collagen, which is essential for bone health.

Antioxidants

Dragon fruit is a source of various antioxidants, including beta-carotene, which can help protect bone cells from oxidative stress and damage. Antioxidants may contribute to overall bone health by reducing inflammation and supporting cellular repair mechanisms.

Hydration

Maintaining proper hydration is essential for overall health, including bone health. Dragon fruit has a high water content, which can help keep you hydrated. Proper hydration is important for maintaining the balance of electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, and potassium in your body, which are essential for bone health.3

Nutritional composition of dragon fruit

What distinguishes this fruit as a superfood? Its nutritional composition is high in vitamins C, E, magnesium, iron, and other minerals. Here is a nutrition table for this unusual yet extremely healthy fruit.

Highlight key nutrients relevant to bone health

  • Calcium
  • Magnesium: Good bone health can help with many things, including preventing injuries and joint pain. This superfruit contains 18% magnesium and helps to build stronger bones and maintain healthy bone health. You only need to consume one glass of dragon fruit smoothie every day
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. This can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and slow down the ageing process. Vitamin C is perhaps most well-known for its role in supporting the immune system. It helps stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infections and illnesses. Regular intake of vitamin C can help reduce the severity and duration of colds
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing damage to cells and DNA. This can reduce the overall oxidative stress in your body. Antioxidants in dragon fruit are as follows:
    • Betalains: These red pigments from the flesh of the dragon fruit have been linked to protection against bad cholesterol (LDL). It prevents LDL from oxidation and damage
    • Hydroxycinnamates: The anti-cancer benefits of dragon fruit come from this group of antioxidants
    • Flavonoids: Flavonoids are present in many vegetables and fruits. This large group of antioxidants is associated with improved brain health and function as well as a lower risk of developing cardiovascular diseases1

Calcium in dragon fruit

The calcium content in dragon fruit can vary depending on factors such as the type of dragon fruit (white-fleshed or red-fleshed) and its ripeness. Generally, dragon fruit contains about eight to ten mg of calcium per 100 grams of fruit, which is relatively low when compared to dairy products, leafy greens, and some fortified foods.

Calcium plays a fundamental role in bone health, and its importance extends beyond just the structural component of bones. Here are the key roles of calcium in maintaining bone health:

Bone formation

Calcium is a major mineral found in bones, primarily in the form of calcium phosphate. This calcium-phosphate complex provides structural strength and density to bones, making them sturdy and resilient.

Bone maintenance

Throughout your life, bone tissue undergoes a continuous process of remodelling, which involves the breakdown and rebuilding of bone. Calcium is essential for this process. Osteoblasts, specialized bone-forming cells, require calcium to create new bone tissue.

Blood calcium regulation

Calcium is crucial for maintaining proper levels of calcium in the bloodstream. If the blood calcium levels drop too low, the body may leach calcium from bones to meet its immediate needs. Over time, this can weaken bones and lead to conditions like osteoporosis.3

Dietary recommendations

1. Tropical dragon fruit pineapple smoothie

  • Prepare the ingredients: Ensure that your dragon fruit and pineapple chunks are frozen. This will help make your smoothie thick and icy
  • Blend: Place the frozen dragon fruit chunks, frozen pineapple chunks, Greek yoghurt, coconut milk, honey (or agave nectar), and vanilla extract (if using) into a blender
  • Blend until smooth: Start blending on low speed and gradually increase to high until all the ingredients are well combined and the smoothie is creamy and smooth. If your smoothie is too thick, you can add a bit more coconut milk to achieve your desired consistency
  • Taste and adjust: Taste your smoothie and adjust the sweetness by adding more honey or agave nectar if needed. You can also add a squeeze of fresh lime juice for a zesty kick if desired
  • Add ice (Optional): If you want your smoothie even colder and thicker, you can add a handful of ice cubes and blend again until smooth
  • Serve: Pour the Tropical Dragon Fruit Pineapple Smoothie into glasses and garnish with fresh pineapple slices or dragon fruit cubes if you like. Serve immediately and enjoy

2. Dragon fruit & berry poppy seed layered cake 

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Cake pans should be greased about 2 inches
  • In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds. Set this dry mixture aside
  • In another bowl, cream together the softened butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, which should take about three to four minutes
  • Eggs should be added one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla extract and dragon fruit puree
  • Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, alternating with the buttermilk. Begin and end with the dry mixture. Mix well combined. If you want a more vibrant pink colour, add a few drops of food colouring and mix until you achieve your desired shade
  • Divide the cake batter equally between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  • The cake is baked in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes
  • The cake shouldbe cooled in the pan for about 10 minutes

3. Dragon fruit milkshake

  • Prepare the dragon fruit: Cut the ripe dragon fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Dice the dragon fruit flesh into small pieces
  • Blend the ingredients: In a blender, combine the diced dragon fruit, milk, vanilla ice cream (if using), and honey. If you prefer a thicker milkshake, you can also add a handful of ice cubes
  • Blend until smooth: Start blending the ingredients on low speed and gradually increase to high. Blend until everything is well combined and the milkshake is smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the sweetness by adding more honey if needed
  • Serve: Pour the Dragon Fruit Milkshake into glasses. If you like, garnish with fresh mint leaves or dragon fruit slices for an extra touch of elegance
  • Enjoy: Serve your Dragon Fruit Milkshake immediately while it's cold and at its freshest

4. Tropical dragon fruit sorbet 

  • Prepare the dragon fruit: Cut the dragon fruits in half, and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Place the dragon fruit flesh in a blender or food processor. You can use either white-fleshed or red-fleshed dragon fruit, depending on your preference
  • Blend the dragon fruit: Blend the dragon fruit until it becomes a smooth puree. If the seeds bother you, you can strain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve to remove them
  • Prepare simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Heat over medium heat
  • Combine ingredients: Mix the dragon fruit puree with the lime juice and the cooled simple syrup. Taste the mixture and adjust the sweetness by adding more simple syrup if needed
  • Chill: Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator and let it chill for at least one hour to ensure it's very cold
  • Churn the sorbet: Pour the chilled dragon fruit mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes, during which time the sorbet will thicken and become creamy4

Summary

In conclusion, dragon fruit, while not a direct source of calcium, can contribute to bone health as part of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Its benefits for bone health stem from its mineral content, particularly phosphorus and magnesium, as well as its rich vitamin C and antioxidant content. These nutrients support bone health by aiding in collagen formation, protecting bone cells from oxidative stress, and promoting overall bodily health.

However, it is important to note that dragon fruit should be viewed as a supplementary component of a diet focused on bone health rather than a primary source of essential nutrients like calcium. To maintain strong and healthy bones, it is crucial to incorporate a variety of calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified foods, as well as engage in weight-bearing exercises and maintain proper hydration.

References

  1. Mewada P. 10 health benefits and recipes of dragon fruit (pitaya) [Internet]. PharmEasy Blog. 2022 [cited 2023 Sep 25]. Available from: https://pharmeasy.in/blog/10-health-benefits-and-recipes-of-dragon-fruit-pitaya/
  2. Why bone health is important and how to improve it [Internet]. TenetHealth. 2019 [cited 2023 Sep 25]. Available from: https://www.tenethealth.com/healthy-living/corporate-content/why-bone-health-is-important-and-how-to-improve-it
  3. Healthcentral.com. [cited 2023 Sep 26]. Available from: https://www.healthcentral.com/nutrition/role-calcium-vitamin-d-bone-health
  4. Juan, Raquel. 7 Easy & Healthy Dragon Fruit Recipes [Internet]. fruitinformation.com. 2020 [cited 2023 Sep 26]. Available from: https://fruitinformation.com/recipe/dragon-fruit-recipes/

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Best Milk Alternative
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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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