Locations:
Search IconSearch

Dragon Fruit: What It Is and Why It’s Healthy

The fanciful fruit is a good source of fiber and antioxidants

Dragon Fruit Health Benefits

Food ruts happen. Maybe you’re in one now. Need help getting out of it?

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Dragon fruit is a nutritious — not to mention vibrant — fruit that’s full of fiber and may improve your gut health.

Ready to get a little adventurous?

Registered dietitian Joyce Prescott, MS, RD, LD, explains the benefits of dragon fruit and how to incorporate the fruit into your diet.

What is dragon fruit?

Dragon fruit, also called pitaya or strawberry pear, looks like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book: On the outside, it’s a pink oval with green scales (hence, the “dragon” name). Inside, it has white flesh with tiny black seeds. The fruit’s strange appearance also gives off “psychedelic artichoke” vibes.

“It’s a tropical fruit that comes from a cactus,” Prescott explains. “It’s available everywhere around the world, but it’s indigenous to Mexico and South America.”

Dragon fruit is in season from summer to early fall. It comes in a variety of shapes and colors:

  • Pink skin with white flesh. This is the most well-known kind, but it’s the least sweet. It’s sold under the names Alice, Cosmic Charlie and Guyute.
  • Pink skin with red or pink flesh. Bigger and sweeter than its white-fleshed cousin, this variety is sold in stores under names such as Red Jaina and Bloody Mary.
  • Pink skin with purple flesh. Look for the name “American Beauty” in stores.
  • Yellow skin with white flesh. Yellow dragon fruit is the hardest to find, but it’s also the sweetest.

“If you like kiwi fruit and pears, then you’ll probably like dragon fruit,” says Prescott. “It’s sweet and crunchy.”

Dragon fruit nutrition

Is dragon fruit healthy? According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 1-cup serving of dragon fruit contains:

  • 103 calories.
  • 0 grams of fat.
  • 5.6 grams of fiber.
  • 27.4 grams of carbohydrates.

Dragon fruit health benefits

The flesh of the dragon fruit is low in calories and fat-free. Dragon fruit benefits also include the following:

It’s a good source of fiber

Dragon fruit is an excellent source of fiber, Prescott says. The daily recommendation for fiber in adults is at least 25 grams — and dragon fruit packs 5.6 grams in a single 1-cup serving.

“Fiber may benefit gastrointestinal and cardiovascular health,” she adds. “Fiber is also filling, which is helpful if you’re trying to lose weight. People who eat whole, fiber-rich foods are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.”

It may improve your gut health

Healthy bacteria in your gut may help digestion and even reduce colon cancer risk. Dragon fruit is a prebiotic that boosts the growth of probiotics lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.

“Some studies appear to show that dragon fruit promoted the growth of healthy gut bacteria,” says Prescott. “It may have a positive effect on the gut microbiome, the good bacteria in our intestines.”

It’s rich in antioxidants

Dragon fruit contains a few different kinds of antioxidants, which work to neutralize free radicals. Those free radicals can damage cells and cause inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Advertisement

Vitamin C, an antioxidant, helps your body absorb iron and boosts immune system health. Carotenoids may reduce cancer risk. And lycopene, a type of carotenoid, may improve heart health and reduce cancer risk.

Does it matter if dragon fruit is fresh or frozen?

Because of its popularity over the last few years, you can typically find dragon fruit either in the produce department or the frozen food section of your local supermarket.

While dragon fruit is best eaten raw, you can also throw it on the grill like some other fruits. Enjoy it on its own or add it to:

  • Cocktails.
  • Desserts.
  • Fish, especially cod, tuna and mahi-mahi.
  • Salads.
  • Smoothies.

“Overall, the health benefits of dragon fruit make it an ingredient worth exploring,” encourages Prescott. “So, have fun and shake up your breakfast, make a new snack or try out a fun dessert with it.”

Advertisement

Learn more about our editorial process.

Related Articles

Bowl of partially peeled tamarind
May 8, 2024/Nutrition
5 Reasons To Try Tamarind

With a sweet, tangy flavor, this tropical fruit is super versatile and high in antioxidants

Person halving apricots and removing pits on cutting board
May 6, 2024/Nutrition
8 Health Benefits of Apricots

Full of antioxidants and nutrients, apricots may boost your eye, skin, digestive and overall health

Water in mason jar mug with cucumber, blueberries and lemon
May 1, 2024/Nutrition
Why You Might Want To Give Flavored Water a Chance

If you’re trying to drink less soda or fewer sugary drinks, flavored water can be a delicious and healthy alternative

Juiced fruits and veggies dispensing from a juicer on counter in kitchen
April 24, 2024/Weight Loss
What You Need To Know About Juicing for Weight Loss

Juicing cleanses don’t target fat loss — and you’ll lose important nutrients in the process

Hot cinnamon baked acorn squash on parchment paper
February 15, 2024/Recipes
Recipe: Baked Cinnamon Acorn Squash

Subtly sweet, buttery and vitamin-packed

glass of cherry juice with cherries on table
November 7, 2023/Nutrition
Sleepy Girl Mocktail: What’s in It and Does It Really Make You Sleep Better?

This social media sleep hack with tart cherry juice and magnesium could be worth a try

Person preparing pear to eat in a salad by slicing it lengthwise.
November 6, 2023/Nutrition
5 Health Benefits of Pears

They’re great for your gut, heart and blood sugar and may lower inflammation

person juicing fruits and vegetables
November 2, 2023/Nutrition
What You’re Losing When You’re Juicing

Juicing removes beneficial fiber from fruits and veggies and raises your blood sugar

Trending Topics

Female and friend jogging outside
How To Increase Your Metabolism for Weight Loss

Focus on your body’s metabolic set point by eating healthy foods, making exercise a part of your routine and reducing stress

stovetop with stainless steel cookware and glassware
5 Ways Forever Chemicals (PFAS) May Affect Your Health

PFAS chemicals may make life easier — but they aren’t always so easy on the human body

jar of rice water and brush, with rice scattered around table
Could Rice Water Be the Secret To Healthier Hair?

While there’s little risk in trying this hair care treatment, there isn’t much science to back up the claims

Ad