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 enjoyed for its unique look and flavour but also known for its numerous health benefits. Research has found that dragon fruit contains phenolic compounds and bioactive phytochemicals, making it an excellent source of antioxidants. Being low in calories makes it an ideal choice for those looking to lose weight. Thus, dragon fruit is not only a tasty snack but also a beneficial one.
Nutritional Profile of Dragon fruit
According to USDA, 100 grams of dragon fruit contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 57 calories
- Water: 84 g
- Protein: 0.36 g
- Carbohydrates: 15.2 g
- Fat: 0.14 g
- Fibre: 3.1 g
- Calcium: 9 mg
- Magnesium: 7 mg
- Potassium: 116 mg
- Choline: 5.1 mg
- Beta carotene: 14 mcg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 44 mcg
- Folate: 7 mcg
Why is Dragon Fruit Good for Weight Loss?
Dragon fruit is a rich source of fibre, minerals, and antioxidants along with high water content
This nutritious fruit aids in weight loss as it is:
Low in Calories
Dragon fruit is an ideal snack due to its low calorie and carbohydrate content. A single dragon fruit only holds 57-60 calories and 8 grams of sugar, much less than other fruits like apples.
The USDA reports that one apple is 80 to 100 calories, meaning that dragon fruit is a much healthier choice in terms of calorie count. Eating low-calorie foods has been proven to be an effective strategy for weight loss, as it helps create an energy deficit over time. A study suggests that low-calorie foods should be part of any successful weight loss program.
Rich in Fibre
Due to its high fibre content, dragon fruit can help with weight loss by adding them to a healthy diet. In addition, the fibre keeps you full and prevents overeating at mealtimes. Thus, dragon fruit satisfies your appetite for a long time.
Research shows that fibre-rich dragon fruit helps with better digestion. It acts like a probiotic, which increases the activity of good bacteria in the intestinal flora. These probiotics help with constipation and improve overall digestion. 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 score, high fibre and antioxidant content. The fibre helps slow down the digestion of the sugars in the fruit preventing blood sugar spikes. In addition to calorie counting; maintaining blood sugar levels and preventing insulin resistance is crucial for weight loss.
Since dragon fruit affects sugar levels, do not eat it with diabetes medication. Together they can cause hypoglycemia.
The HealthifyMe Note
The wholesome, nutritious dragon fruit can help with cutting back on calories. The low-calorie and high-fibre nature makes dragon fruit ideal for weight loss. However, practice moderation because dragon fruit does contain natural sugars.
Ways to Eat Dragon Fruit for Weight Loss
You can eat dragon fruit as it is. Cut the dragon fruit in half and scoop the pulp from its peel with a spoon. The recommended serving size of dragon fruit is one cup or one medium-sized fruit. However, it is an average estimate. The portion size varies from person to person. So, talk to a nutritionist to find what is suitable for you.
Finding the optimal portion size can be challenging if you have a weight loss goal. The primary focus of any weight loss plan is to consume fewer calories than you burn. HealthifyMe nutritionists can calculate portion size based on how many calories you plan to consume in a day. Once you know how much to eat, they can help you design weight-loss-friendly recipes.
People with diabetes need to eat with care. Those who are obese or overweight should also check the amount of food they consume. The Pro Coaches at HealthifyMe take into account your lifestyle and existing health conditions to guide you throughout the weight loss process. You can also sign up for the HealthifyPRO CGM to know how each type of food affects your blood sugar levels.
You should be cautious of having too much dragon fruit. Due to its fibre content, it can lead to bloating, diarrhoea, or upset stomach.
Selection and Storage
The peak season for dragon fruit is summertime through early fall. When choosing one, look for bright, evenly-coloured pink skin. However, ensure not to pick an overly ripe dragon fruit. Overripe dragon fruit has too many brown patches on it with a dry and shrivelled stem.
You can keep dragon fruit at room temperature for several days when uncut. Once cut, eat the dragon fruit immediately or store it in the fridge in an airtight container for a day. Discard it when the inner flesh begins to turn brown.
Best Time to Eat Dragon Fruit
Morning is usually the best time to consume fruits. That is because the digestive system quickly breaks down the fruit sugar to give your body all the nutrients. However, you can also eat dragon fruit as a mid-meal snack or at night.
Dragon fruit is a rich source of magnesium. According to USDA, one cup of dragon fruit contains nearly 12.6 mg of magnesium. Or one whole dragon fruit (around 75 g) has 5.25 mg of magnesium.
Studies show that dietary magnesium intake leads to better sleep quality and duration. Hence, eating dragon fruit a few hours before bedtime may be an excellent place to start 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 flavour, which goes well with salads, smoothies, and yoghurt. There is no need to grill, cook or freeze dragon fruit. However, here are some weight loss-friendly recipes to make dragon fruit even more delicious!
Dragon Fruit With Lemon
Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Dragon fruit pulp: 1 fruit
- Water: 1/2 cup
- Lemon juice: 2 tbsp
Method of Preparation
- Blend the dragon fruit pulp with lemon juice and water
- Then add ice if necessary.
Dragon Fruit Yoghurt Bowl
Preparation time: 5 minutes
- Banana: 1/2
- Strawberries: 2-3
- Dragon fruit: Chopped pulp of 1 fruit
- Walnuts: 4
- Chia seeds: 1 tbsp
- Oats: 1 tsp
- Greek yoghurt: 1 cup
Method of Preparation
- Cut up all the fruits and place them in a bowl.
- Add the yoghurt, chia seeds and oats.
- Mix and serve.
If you want to add some exotic fruit variety to your weight loss diet, incorporating dragon fruit is an excellent option. It has low calories and a high fibre content, making it a great mid-meal snack. Furthermore, it can help regulate sugar levels, making it a beneficial food for those with diabetes. However, even though consuming it regularly has no adverse effects, one must consult a nutritionist to find the right portion size.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. How many calories does 1 dragon fruit have?
A. The calories of one dragon fruit can be anywhere between 57-60 calories. Most of these calories come from the fibre and sugar content. However, the calories can be higher when you consume dragon fruit juices, blends, chips, and other snack varieties. It is because they contain added sugar, flavourings, and preservatives.
Q. Is eating whole dragon fruit too much?
A. Eating one whole dragon fruit is generally safe since it is low in calories. Although dragon fruit is good for health, too much of everything is bad. Over Consumption may cause allergic reactions in some people. The high dietary fibre can also cause digestive distress. Plus, the serving size can be different when you have diabetes.
Q. What is the disadvantage of eating dragon fruit?
A. There is no disadvantage in eating moderate amounts of dragon fruit unless you are allergic. However, overconsumption can cause digestive problems like abdominal pain, flatulence and bloating. It may also interfere with the functioning of certain diabetes medications.
Q. What are the 5 health benefits of dragon fruit?
A. The main benefit of dragon fruit is stabilising blood sugar levels. The high fibre and water content of dragon fruit can also help with weight loss. Furthermore, the prebiotic fibre helps digestion, and antioxidants strengthen the immune system. Beta-carotene and lycopene in dragon fruit are also beneficial for cancer patients.
Q. Does dragon fruit clean your stomach?
A. Yes, the fibre in dragon fruit helps grow and nourish good gut bacteria. It, in turn, helps with proper waste disposal and detoxification. The antioxidants in dragon fruit and its extract can also help detoxify or cleanse your stomach and liver.
The Supporting Sources
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 2022 Jan 26. doi:10.3390/molecules27030808
2. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: Survey (FNDDS) | Food Category: Other fruits and fruit salads | FDC ID: 2344729 | Food Code: 63116010
3. Kim, Ju Young. “Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance.” Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome vol. 30,1 (2021): 20-31. doi:10.7570/jomes20065
4. Data by the US Department of Agriculture. Data Type: Survey (FNDDS) | Food Category: Apples| FDC ID: 1102644 | Food Code: 63101000
5. Perween, Tamanna. (2018). Dragon fruit: An exotic super future fruit of 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 Sleep Quality: Findings From the CARDIA Study, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 5, Issue Supplement_2, June 2021, Page 1109