Dragon Fruit Benefits For Diabetes
Fruits form an essential portion of every person’s diet, being a great source of antioxidants, nutrients, minerals, vitamins as well as dietary fiber. These cannot be omitted from the diet by anybody irrespective of the person being diabetic or non-diabetic.
Diabetics do need to exercise special precautions while indulging in fruity treats. They are constantly worried about the glycemic content of fruits that they eat. Pulpy fruits generally have a high glycemic index and are contra-indicated in diabetes. This, however, turns out to be the opposite of dragon fruit.
This article will give you a brief idea about various health benefits of dragon fruit and specifically, dragon fruit benefits for diabetes. There has been a steady rise in demand, consumption and also the cultivation of exotic fruits and vegetables in India; lately, dragon fruit has become one of the most commonly consumed exotic fruits.
Dragon fruit originated in Central and South America and Mexico; it is now also being cultivated in India. It is famously known as “Noble Woman” or “Queen of the Night”. In some parts of the world, the dragon fruit is also called strawberry pear, Pitahaya, Night-blooming cereus, and Belle of the night. This super fruit originally belongs to the cactus family and has an attractive color and appearance with a rich pulp and tiny black seeds within.
Nutritional Value Of Dragon Fruit
Apart from being eaten in its freshest possible state, parts of the dragon fruit like leaves and dried flowers are also consumed as jams and juices in several parts of the Eastern countries like Japan and Taiwan.
The edible white and red pulp of dragon fruit holds ample nutritional value in the form of water content, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, crude fiber, glucose, vitamin C, vitamin A, niacin, calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Dragon Fruit Benefits For Diabetes
The World Health Organization reports that the incidence of diabetes has been steadily increasing from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014 in the adult population worldwide.
General recommendations for optimal blood sugar control in diabetic individuals include regular physical exercise, dietary modifications, and control over body weight. Several people, however, find it difficult to maintain dietary regulations, making it necessary to resort to medicinal intervention.
Several medicinal herbs and plants have proven their effectiveness in regularizing or maintaining blood glucose levels, dragon fruit is one such fruit where it has amazing benefits for diabetes. Some dragon fruit benefits for diabetes can be enlisted as;
- An experiment on animal models claimed that dragon fruit benefits for diabetes are it is capable of regenerating beta cells of the pancreas (cells responsible for producing insulin in the body).
- High flavonoids and antioxidant content of dragon fruit prevent oxidative stress and damage to the pancreas thereby preserving beta cells of the pancreas as well as their function.
- Juice prepared out of white dragon fruit and betacyanins present in its peel has proven to improve insulin resistance.
- Some studies also suggest that regular consumption of dragon fruit by pre-diabetic persons may prevent the risk of developing type II diabetes mellitus.
- Diabetic individuals are often at a higher risk for developing hypertension and other cardiac illnesses. As already seen above, dragon fruit contains flavonoids that have a cardio-protective effect, regular consumption of dragon fruit benefits for diabetes and also prevents the development of hypertension and cardiac illnesses.
- Another study was conducted in mice in which the mice were put on a high-fat diet and also fed extracts of dragon fruit simultaneously. This study showed that the mice who were fed dragon fruit extracts did not show significant weight gain and also showed a significant reduction in liver fat, inflammatory changes in the body and also insulin resistance.
The antioxidant activity of red dragon fruit is greater than the white one which means that the hypoglycemic effect of red peel may be greater than white peel; however, this lacks strong supportive research on blood sugar-lowering effects of dragon fruit on humans.
Although dragon fruit is a relatively safe fruit to indulge in for diabetics, it may face some drawbacks in India as;
- Some people may be allergic to fruit unknowingly. Therefore these need to be consumed with utmost care especially by diabetic persons who are pregnant or elderly.
- This fruit is quite costly in India as compared to other fruits. This may be a reason for less utilization of this fruit since it may be beyond the affordability of diabetics who belong to the lower economic strata.
Other Health Benefits Of Dragon Fruit
Plenty of studies have been conducted to study the various health benefits that this super fruit has to offer. Some health benefits of dragon fruit are;
- Regular consumption of dragon fruit proved to bring symptomatic relief to patients suffering from chronic cough and bronchial asthma.
- The high content of vitamins D and C in dragon fruit enhances the immune system and protects against infections.
- High levels of vitamin C present in this fruit aids in faster healing of cuts and wounds.
- Vitamin C also works as a potent antioxidant which in return also stimulates other antioxidants present in the body, thereby enhancing immunity.
- Being incredibly rich in water content, dragon fruit also helps in providing hydration to the body. This is one of the reasons why dragon fruit has been widely used for patients during dengue fever.
- This fruit is effective in reducing heavy menstrual bleeding among women.
- Being rich in flavonoids, the fruit also shows cardioprotective activity by reducing free radicals from the blood and preventing plaque formation in major arteries.
- Since dragon fruit is rich in dietary fiber, it also aids in digestion.
- Vitamin B present in dragon fruit supports metabolic activities in the body, provides energy, improves appetite, lowers bad cholesterol, moisturizes the skin and improves eyesight.
- High calcium and phosphorus content present in the fruit improves bone and teeth health and also promotes tissue formation.
Dragon fruit benefits for diabetes can be owed majorly to its rich vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content. Although the fruit is pulpy, it can be safely consumed by diabetic individuals as it has a low glycemic index and fewer carbohydrates as compared to other pulpy fruits.