Yes, Dragon Fruit is Paleo!
Exotic Looking Fruit
With a skin resembling to the scales of a mythical dragon, dragon fruit or pitaya is a cactus plant with green and reddish-pink hues. It is a superfruit indigenous to southern Mexico and Central Mexico but has already grown all over the world. The flesh of dragon fruit is white and specked with tiny black seeds similar to kiwi. It has a crunchy texture and mildly sweet, earthy taste that can be compared to melons.
There are two common types of dragon fruit: the American dragon fruit and the Asian dragon fruit. The first comes from the genus Stenocerus. Its taste is sour and juicy and is slightly similar to strawberries. The other variety which is less popular is the Asian dragon fruit that comes from the genus Hylocereus. The skiin is thick and leafy andthe flesh is white with black seeds. The taste is slightly bland and contains lesser nutrients compared to the American variety.
The flesh and seeds of dragon fruit are edible and this exotic fruit can be eaten in raw, cooked or dried form. It can also be turned into juice, smoothies or wine.
Nutritional Profile of Dragon Fruit
The unique looking dragon fruit is rich in vitamins C, various B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, fiber, iron, calcium ad phosphorus. It also has a surprising number of phytonutrients. The black seeds of dragon fruit are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The lycopene that gives dragon fruit its red color has been linked to lower risk of certain cancers.
The Health Benefits of Dragon Fruit
There are many benefits reported in eating dragon fruit and some of the most notable ones have attributed to weight loss, improved digestion, lowered blood pressure and regulated blood sugar levels.
Food high in antioxidants can help protect the cells against the harmful effects of free radicals that can cause heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Dragon fruit contains several types of antioxidants including betalains, hydroxycinnamates and flavanoids which have found to be effective in protecting the cells from becoming oxidized and preventing diseases.
Immune System Booster
One of the top benefits of eating dragon fruit is its ability to boost the body’s defense by fighting infections and illnesses. Thanks to the high amounts of vitamin C and other antioxidants present in it.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Dragon fruit may help decrease bad cholesterol while improving the good ones. It is an excellent source of monounsaturated fats that can help keep the heart in great condition. The seeds of dragon fruit contain sufficient amounts of omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids that can also lower triglyceride levels and reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Diets high in fiber can help maintain and normalize bowel movements. Fiber aids in digestion and can help eliminate constipation and IBS. Dragon fruit have significantly high fiber content that it can add bulk for smoother passage through the digestive tract, stimulating peristaltic motion, and inducing a release of digestive juices.
Another benefit from the high fiber in dragon fruit is that it can ultimately help regulate diabetes by stabilizing blood sugar levels. Dragon fruit can prevent sugar spikes ever after eating food high in glycemic index.
Potential Cancer Prevention
Dragon fruit contains nutrients and compounds that have antioxidant and cancer-preventing qualities. Lycopene which gives dragon fruit its bright reddish pink color contains chemopreventive properties.
Other Names for Dragon Fruit
Pitaya, pitahaya, strawberry pear
All you ever wanted to know about Dragon Fruit and Paleo
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photo credit: arsheffield Dragonfruit