Don’t you love the exotic feel of dragon fruit? This bright pink fruit gets its name from its artichoke-like features and pointy scales. The fruit is also referred to as cactus fruit and strawberry pear in several parts of the globe. It has a sweet flavour, which is always refreshing and this fruit is best enjoyed when it’s fresh. From being the perfect snack to shaking up your mocktails, dragon fruit contains a choke full of nutrients that makes it a great fruit. Since it’s a sweet fruit, let’s find out if a dragon fruit is good for diabetes or not!
HealthShots reached out to Dr Pavithra N Raj, Chief Dietician at Manipal Hospital in Yeshwanthpur, Karnataka to understand the effects of dragon fruit on people with diabetes.
Dragon fruit belongs to the cactus spice, also known as Pitaya. It is a fruit loaded with properties like antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. All of which can do wonders for your health. It also contains fibre, which can help control your blood sugar levels. Dragon fruit is considered to be low glycemic index fruit. It has a low GI between 48-52 so consuming this in moderation helps control blood sugar, asserts Dr Pavithra.
“The 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. Betacyanins present in its peel have proven to improve insulin resistance,” she adds.
Studies like one published in the journal PLoS One also found that dragon fruit can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep your diabetes in check.
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There is evidence from animal studies that dragon fruit has an anti-diabetic effect by regenerating pancreatic-β cells and attenuating fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF-21) resistance. Fibroblast growth factor-21 is a hormone that helps regulate metabolic functions.
A 100-gram serving of the fruit provides 60 calories of energy. A person with diabetes can consume no more than 100 grams of dragon fruit every day. This will help reduce blood sugar spikes and aid in weight loss. If they are combined with other fruits then around 50gm can be consumed, explains Dr Pavithra.
General studies have shown no side effects in people eating dragon fruit. However, if someone is allergic to fruit, they may show symptoms like swelling of the tongue, irritation, or itching of the tongue, points out the dietician.
Dragon fruit is also great to improve gut health. It is also packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, making it a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. The benefits of eating dragon fruit don’t end here. Since it is high in Omega-3s and other nutrients, it also helps keep your cholesterol level in check and reduces fatty liver disease.
The best way to consume dragon fruit is to cut it fresh and eat it. However, there are certain recipes you can try to make the best of this sweet pink delight. The expert suggests you can try dragon fruit juice and smoothies. You can also add it with custards, or make a pudding. Also, you can add it to a salad full of cucumbers, tomatoes, and other diabetes-friendly vegetables. If you are someone who enjoys mojitos and cocktails, you can add them to your drinks to add flavour.
While there are several ways to include dragon fruit in a diabetes diet, the key is to eat the fruit in moderation.
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