Last Updated on March 23, 2023 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD
As a doctor, I’m often asked about the best foods to eat for managing diabetes. Yellow dragon fruit is a lesser-known fruit that has recently gained attention for its potential health benefits for those with diabetes. In this article, I’ll explore the 5 key benefits of yellow dragon fruit and explain why it may be a smart addition to a diabetic diet. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or looking for new ways to improve your blood sugar control, read on to discover how this exotic fruit can benefit your health.
Is Yellow Dragon Fruit Good for Diabetes?
Yellow Dragon Fruit can be a good food option for individuals with diabetes when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet, owing to its low glycemic index.
Dragon fruit (also known as pitaya or pitahaya) is a tropical fruit native to Central and South America. It has bright pink or yellow skin and is full of crunchy seeds.
Yellow Dragon Fruit is low in calories, high in fiber, and contains antioxidants, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications associated with diabetes. Additionally, the fruit has a low glycemic index, which means it does not cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels.
However, it is important to note that Yellow Dragon Fruits should be consumed in moderation, as it has higher sugar content, compared to their white and red variants.
Nutritional Value of Yellow Dragon Fruit
Dragon Fruit, also known as Strawberry Pear, Pitahaya, or Pitaya, is abundant in Central America and Mexico. Nowadays, it is cultivated in many countries and can be found in markets of Asia and Europe. Its skin can range from red to yellow, with the most common color being hot pink in its native habitat.
Even though most fruits spike blood glucose levels, they also benefit in one way or the other. And, the best part about dragon fruit is that it is beneficial in regulating blood glucose levels rather than shooting them. What contributes to the merits of dragon fruit is its rich nutritional value with low calories.
100 grams of dragon fruit contains the following nutrients according to USDA.
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- Calories: 57 calories
- Protein: 0.36 g
- Carbohydrates: 15.2 g
- Fat: 0.14 g
- Fibre: 3.1 g
- Total sugars: 9.75 g
- Calcium: 9 mg
- Potassium: 116 mg
- Choline: 5.1 mg
- Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid: 4.3 mg
- Beta carotene: 14 mcg
- Lutein + zeaxanthin: 44 mcg
- Folate: 7 mcg
Dragon fruit is also available as a snack in various branded varieties and can be commonly found in fruit chips, frozen chunks, flavored energy drinks, sorbet fruit blends, freeze-dried fruit, and more. However, 100 grams of branded/packaged dragon fruit snack contains the following nutrients as per USDA.
- Calories: 264 calories
- Protein: 3.57 g
- Carbohydrates: 82.1 g
- Fibre: 1.8 g
- Total sugars: 82.1 g
- Calcium: 107 mg
- Sodium: 39 mg
- Vitamin C: 6.4 mg
Whole, fresh dragon fruit is a much healthier option compared to branded snacks. 100 g of the natural form of dragon fruit has 57 calories and 9.75 g of sugar, while processed snacks with the same flavor contain 264 calories and 82.1 g of sugar. Because of this, those with diabetes should always opt for buying whole fruit to avoid spikes in their blood sugar levels.
What Are the Health Benefits of Yellow Dragon Fruit for Diabetics?
#1 Rich in nutrients
Low-calorie, high-vitamin, and mineral content are all characteristics of dragon fruit. Eating dragon fruit has been linked to better heart health and reduced cholesterol levels, due to its high soluble fiber content which helps remove cholesterol from the gut wall. It is a nutritious food source, providing all the necessary nutrients, making it a better choice than taking vitamin C supplements.
Furthermore, its antioxidants help repair damaged pancreas cells, making it especially beneficial for people with diabetes. Antioxidants are abundant in dragon fruit. Free radicals are combated by antioxidants. In people with diabetes, these free radicals cause oxidative stress.
#2 Low Glycemic Index
Dragon fruit has a low GI which generally ranges from 48-53. It takes longer for foods with low to moderate glycemic index to be absorbed and digested. Thus, it helps prevent any dramatic effect on your blood glucose levels. Instead, you will see a slow rise in blood glucose levels.
However, this fruit has not been assigned an exact GI yet. So, the best bet is to consume only one whole fruit a day to avoid any unhealthy spikes. Also, the response to blood glucose levels is unique for each individual. Thus, you can talk to me to understand how much dragon fruit is ideal to eat.
#3 Good to treat chronic disorders
Unstable molecules that cause cell damage are known as free radicals. These can cause you to feel uncomfortable or inflamed. Consuming antioxidant-rich foods like dragon fruit is one way to fight this. Free radicals are countered by antioxidants. They also prevent inflammation and cell damage, as a result.
Antioxidant-rich diets, according to the research, may help prevent chronic conditions. Cancer, cardiovascular illness, diabetes, and arthritis are among the conditions. Moreover, antioxidants are best absorbed via food rather than by supplements or a pill, which is why they are so important.
#4 It’s an immune booster
Strengthening your immune system is also beneficial with dragon fruit. Vitamin C and carotenoids, which assist the immune system and prevent infection, are found in the fruit. It also keeps your white blood cells safe from harm. White blood cells in your immune system attack and kill harmful substances. They are, however, quite vulnerable to free radical damage, which dragon fruit can help with.
#5 Keeps our digestive system healthy
The fruit contains prebiotics, which may help restore the equilibrium of beneficial bacteria in a person’s intestine. Prebiotics are a unique kind of non-digestible fiber that differs from other types. They help establish beneficial bacteria in a person’s gastrointestinal system.
Unlike all fibers, the human gastrointestinal system does not break them down. They may still be digested by bacteria that live in the gut. For development, they utilize fiber as an energy source. In addition, the individual may benefit from it.
How to Incorporate Yellow Dragon Fruit into a Diabetes Diet
To incorporate dragon fruit into a diabetes diet, start by adding a small amount of it to a meal. For example, you could add diced dragon fruit to a yogurt bowl or top a salad with a few slices. Additionally, dragon fruit can be a great snack. Try freezing it and blending it into a diabetic-friendly smoothie or simply eating it plain. However, it is important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely when adding new foods to your diet.
Potential Side Effects of Eating Yellow Dragon Fruit
No, there are no such potential side effects of dragon fruit for diabetes in general. However, it is always advisable that you can contact an expert endocrinologist like me before adding any regular extra food to your diabetic diet. Stay away from branded/packaged dragon fruit products as they may contain extra sugar which I have also compared for their nutritional values above.
Dragon fruit, like your meals, has an impact on your blood glucose. Due to its low GI score and high fiber content, dragon fruit will not cause a rapid sugar spike. The fiber in dragon fruit helps to keep your blood glucose levels stable. It is also a low-calorie fruit, in addition to being naturally low-calorie.
However, branded or packaged dragon fruits are handy and are even available in abundance than the original fruit itself. So, it’s best that you practice the precaution of staying away from the packaged product and should always prefer fresh fruit over anything else. You should consume dragon fruit in moderation, despite the fact that it is a handy diabetes-friendly fruit option.
Which dragon fruit is best for diabetes?
It is said that red dragon fruit is better to consume for diabetics than yellow dragon fruit. The reason is that yellow dragon fruit contains 25% of sugar content whereas red dragon fruit only contains 10% of sugar content.
Can Type 2 diabetics eat dragon fruit?
A study has revealed that betacyanin and the antioxidant activity of dragon fruit have a glucose-lowering effect. Higher doses of dragon fruit extract had a more substantial reduction in blood glucose levels, particularly in individuals with prediabetes.
Thus, people with Type 2 diabetes can consume dragon fruit in moderation. But it doesn’t show any glucose-lowering effect on people with Type 2 diabetes. So, my suggestion is to monitor your blood glucose levels closely during its addition to your diet.
Does yellow dragon fruit make you sleepy?
No, yellow dragon fruit rather helps improve your sleep as it is rich in magnesium. On the other hand, low levels of magnesium increase the chances of insomnia.