This is the fourth post of Fruits With Benefits: Eating Healthy From A to Z.
To see the complete series, click here.
Hello guys! Can’t believe we’re almost at the end of February already! Hope you’re still taking good care of yourselves. Today I’m excited to introduce you to a fruit so beautiful, so exotic, you can’t help but stop to admire its colors.
Slumbering blissfully these days? Good – keep up with your cherry-picking routine. Every other Monday I’ll be filling you up with a juicy fruit that quells your sugar cravings and fully satisfies your appetite. With bite-sized information and easy-to-grab fruits, I aim to make you eat more of these goods so you can feel good and look good.
I AM A HUGE LOVER OF FRUITS. MY MOTHER MADE ME EAT AN APPLE EVERYDAY SINCE I WAS VERY YOUNG. THANKS TO HER, I HAD A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH APPLES FOR A WHILE. BUT NOW THAT I’M 22 AND RIPE, I’VE GROWN TO ENJOY THE SWEET TREATS SO MUCH THAT I CAN’T IMAGINE LIVING A DAY WITHOUT FRUITS. IT’S BECOME A SECOND NATURE FOR ME TO GRAB A FUJI APPLE OFF THE FRIDGE EVERY MORNING WHEN I WAKE UP. I EVEN HAVE FRUIT CRAVINGS, AND MOST OF THE TIME IT’S EITHER MANGOES OR AVOCADOS.
HOWEVER, I AM NOT A REGISTERED DIETICIAN OR OTHER QUALIFIED MEDICAL PRACTITIONER, AND THIS POST IS INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. MAKE SURE YOU ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE MAKING ANY DIETARY CHANGES.
JUST FOR THE LOVE OF dragonfruits, ALLOW ME TO SHARE MY LOVE FOR IT WITH YOU TODAY.
- Image courtesy of Cooking Dangerously
Its scaly, leathery skin, which comes in yellows and magentas, may look like poison. But the dragonfruit, also known as the pitaya or pitahaya, does wonders for your heart. It’s worth taking your time peeling off its cactus-sharp skin to see its beautiful flesh, with varieties ranging from white to pink colors.
Grown in tropical regions of the world, the spiky fruit contains a chock-full of nutrients that are excellent for controlling blood sugar levels. In fact, diabetics are prescribed to substitute their rice bowls for dragonfruits in Taiwan. Just 5 weeks of eating dragonfruits everyday can significantly lower diabetic’s body weight, blood pressure, and decrease other cardiovascular concerns. In a recent study, researchers found that nutrients in dragonfruits relax the walls of stiff arteries and reduce oxidative stress throughout the body, which are caused by cancer-causing free radicals.
Antioxidants in dragonfruits, like those in blueberries, fight free radicals to lower risk of plenty nasty diseases. They’re also your best friend for slowing down the aging process. There’s no sweeter way to stave off wrinkles than a piece of the pretty fruit – just look at the ample list of nutrients one small dragonfruit provides below:
HEALTH BENEFITS OF DRAGONFRUIT
- Dietary fiber - Dragonfruits are known for being rich in fiber. Fiber encourages a healthy digestive system to ensure regular bowel movements. Fiber in dragonfruits are largely made up of the digestible fiber oligosaccharides, which acts as probiotics once they enter your body. Probiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut that rids toxins out of your system.
- Vitamin C – Touted for its immune-boosting effects, vitamin C actually has little to no effect on treating the common cold. Instead, your body requires regular doses of this antioxidant for optimal health. The main function of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is making collagen that keeps your skin, muscles, tendons, bones, cartilage, ligaments, blood vessels, and gum healthy. It is essential for the growth and repair of all tissues in your body to heal bruises and cuts faster. One 100g dragonfruit provides you 9g of vitamin C, an equivalent of 15% of your daily recommended intake. Munching dragonfruits regularly keeps your skin and hair from drying and prevents you from growing brittle nails and wrinkles.
- Healthy fats - The black seeds in dragonfruits are a host of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3s, that reduce symptoms of inflammation, lowers the risk of arthritis, promotes steady blood sugar levels and lowers bad cholesterol levels in blood. Dragonfruits are also rich in linoleic acid, which is popular for retenting moisture and reducing redness of the skin. Monounsaturated fats in dragonfruits play a role for keeping healthy cholesterol levels in blood.
- Iron - Your body constantly feeds on iron to make red blood cells that deliver sufficient oxygen throughout all parts of your body. Too little iron in blood makes you feel weak, fatigue, lethargic, and risk your immune health.
- Calcium – Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body that is responsible for maintaining the health of all skeletal muscles in your body. Calcium can be found most in your teeth and bones. Aside from keeping our bones strong, calcium takes a role in blood clotting, communication between nerve cells, blood pressure stabilization, and the release of various hormones.
- Potassium – Potassium is essential for promoting muscle growth, regulating blood pressure, and maintaining a healthy nervous system, particularly for the brain to function properly. This electrolyte prevents you from dehydration and is important for managing the acid-base balance your body needs to ensure normal metabolic activities.
- Phosphorus – Second in abundance to calcium, phosphorus is responsible for energy production and storage. Like calcium, phosphorus is essential for maintaining teeth and bone strength. It is so abundant that 1% of your body weight is made up of phosphorus. One small dragonfruit gives you 22% of your daily recommended intake of phosphorus.
- Niacin – Also known as Vitamin B3, niacin reduces levels of LDL cholesterol and the number of triglycerides in the blood, which altogether makes up your belly fat. Like the vitamin Bs in avocado, niacin is water-soluble and converts the foods you eat into fuel for energy.
With its taste a cross among kiwis, strawberries, and pears, the mild sweetness of dragonfruits is suitable for just about anything from a savory salsa to a syrupy dessert. With that flexibility in mind, I found some of the best ways you can incorporate more dragonfruits into your diet:
3 SIMPLE WAYS TO ENJOY DRAGONFRUIT
- Snack on it: Simply grab a small one whenever you’re having the sugar cravings :) I usually have them as a late-afternoon snack to amp up my energy levels.
- Remake Food Network’s simple Seared Scallops with Dragonfruit Salsa recipe! (or remix it like Ann from Cooking Dangerously did).
- Whip up this pretty salad in seconds! It’s a crunchy way to keep my energy levels stable all day long.