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Dragon Fruit for Diabetes: Benefits, Side Effects, and More

Don’t you love the exotic feel of dragon fruit? This bright pink fruit gets its name from its artichoke-like characteristics and pointy scales. The fruit is also called cactus fruit and strawberry pear in different parts of the globe. It has a sweet, always refreshing taste, and this fruit is best enjoyed fresh. From being the perfect snack to shaking up your mocktails, dragon fruit contains a choke full of nutrients that make 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 contacted Dr. Pavithra N Raj, Chief Dietitian at Manipal Hospital in Yeshwanthpur, Karnataka, to understand the effects of dragon fruit on people with diabetes.

Is dragon fruit good for diabetics?

Dragon fruit belongs to the cactus spice, also known as Pitaya. It is a fruit rich in properties such as antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. All of this can do wonders for your health. It also contains fiber, which can help control blood sugar levels. Dragon fruit is considered a low glycemic fruit. It has a low GI between 48 and 52, so consuming it in moderation helps control blood sugar, says Dr. Pavithra.

Dragon fruit is good for diabetics. Image courtesy of: Adobe Stock
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“The high flavonoid and antioxidant content of dragon fruit prevents oxidative stress and damage to the pancreas thereby preserving pancreatic beta cells and their function. The betacyanins present in its peel have been shown to improve insulin resistance,” he adds.

Studies like the one published in the journal PLoS One have also found that dragon fruit can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep diabetes in check.

Read also: Have you ever heard of a thali that fights diabetes? Here’s why you MUST nibble

How much dragon fruit should diabetics consume?

There is evidence from animal studies that dragon fruit has an antidiabetic effect by regenerating pancreatic beta cells and attenuating resistance to fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF-21). Fibroblast growth factor-21 is a hormone that helps regulate metabolic functions.

A 100 gram portion of fruit provides 60 calories of energy. A person with diabetes cannot consume more than 100 grams of dragon fruit each day. This will help reduce blood sugar spikes and aid in weight loss. If they are combined with other fruits, about 50 g can be consumed, explains Dr. Pavitra.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Dragon Fruit For Diabetics?

General studies have shown no side effects in people who eat dragon fruit. However, if someone is allergic to fruit, they may show symptoms such as tongue swelling, irritation, or itchiness of the tongue, points out the dietitian.

Dragon fruit is also great for improving gut health. It’s also high in Omega-3 fatty acids, making it a great addition to a heart-healthy diet. The benefits of eating dragon fruit don’t end there. Because it is rich in Omega-3 and other nutrients, it also helps keep cholesterol level in check and reduces fatty liver disease.

benefits of dragon fruit
Are There Any Side Effects Of Dragon Fruit For Diabetics? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Dragon fruit recipes

The best way to consume dragon fruit is to cut it fresh and eat it. However, there are a few recipes you can try to get the best out of this sweet pink delight. The expert suggests trying dragon fruit juice and smoothies. You can also add it with custards or make a pudding. Plus, you can add it to a salad filled with cucumbers, tomatoes, and other diabetes-friendly veggies. If you are someone who likes mojitos and cocktails, you can add them to your drinks for added flavor.

While there are several ways to include dragon fruit in a diabetes diet, the key is to eat the fruit in moderation.