Dragon fruit … improves vascular function

Advice: Dr. Hassan Mohamed Sandakji

It appears that the Dragon Fruit has entered the club of “fruits that are useful in promoting the health of blood vessels”, such as pomegranate, grapes and others, according to the results of a recent British study. In presenting the health benefits of dragon fruit, according to the results of scientific studies, clinical nutrition sources do not talk about it as a treatment for any of the diseases, but describe it as a fruit rich in nutrients that are beneficial for a number of health aspects in the body, indicating eagerness to eat it within the daily variety of fruits.

Cardiovascular benefits
According to the current May issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers at King’s College London presented the results of their study, the effect of eating dragon fruit on the health and flexibility of blood vessels. The study was entitled “Consumption of dragon fruit rich in betaine improves vascular function in men and women.”
In the introduction to this study, the researchers said: “Recent research has shown that the consumption of dragon fruit helps to improve the level of glucose and lipids in the blood. However, research into its cardioprotective properties in human trials, especially in nutritional feasible amounts, is still lacking.
The aim of this comparative study was to investigate the effect of short-term (two weeks) consumption of dragon fruit on vascular function in healthy people. “Paylines are natural red pigments that are abundant in red meat dragon fruit,” they added. In their findings, they said: “Short-term consumption of dragon fruit in achievable nutritional amounts has improved endothelial function and arterial stiffness in healthy individuals. This means that regular consumption of dragon fruit can have a significant impact on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, most likely if due to the higher payroll content. ”

tropical fruits
Dragon fruit is a tropical fruit that comes from cacti. It is oval, about the size of an orange, with mostly a red-pink coating, and some of them have a yellow coating. As for its pulp, it is fragile and rich in water, and is often white, and some types of pulp are red or purple. And sprinkled in the pulp of black seeds of a thin lid, of high nutritional health. It is available all over the world, but its original home is Mexico and South America, and then it is grown in many tropical regions of the world.
By reviewing various sources on the nutritional components of dragon fruit, of different sizes and colors, it appears that dragon fruit is low in calories, rich in vitamin C, rich in antioxidants and a good source of fiber, making it a wonderful daily snack that offers many health benefits.
In a previous study by researchers from the Department of Nutrition at Kings College, published in the August 2020 issue of the Journal of Food Function, British researchers presented their scientific review of the effects of eating dragon fruit on the health of blood vessels and the function offered. of their endothelium.
They reported their summary: “Dragon fruit is a food source and a traditional folk remedy. It has recently become of scientific interest due to its high levels of phytochemical compounds, especially betaine. By reviewing the results of 16 previous scientific studies on this aspect (7 in humans and 9 in animals), animal studies have suggested a possible increase in vasodilation, increase in blood nitric oxide and decrease in vascular stiffness and blood pressure. These results indicate an improvement in vascular health. “Australian and New Zealand researchers published in the last November issue of the Foods Journal their scientific review of the nutritional components and active chemical compounds in the red dragon fruit Red Pitaya (red pulp with pink peel) The researchers said: “The seeds and peels of red dragon fruit contain higher concentrations of polyphenols, beta-cyanines and amino acids (a source of protein synthesis) compared to the pulp, while anthocyanins are found only in the pulp.
Its amounts gradually increase with the development of the ripening of the fruit. These bioactive components show effects on the human intestinal microbiota, glycemic response, lipid accumulation, inflammation and microbial growth, but the mechanisms are not yet fully understood. The compounds mentioned are plant pigments of different colors, which act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation and protect blood vessels.

nutritional properties
In their Nov. 29 health nutrition education bulletin, clinical dietitians at the Cleveland Clinic encouraged eating dragon fruit in their article, “All About Dragon Fruit: 3 Health Benefits + How to Eat It.” “Dragon fruit is a nutritious fruit that can benefit your body and your taste buds,” said Mira Elek, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic. Are you ready to get a little adventurous? Here is how to include dragon fruit in your diet when it is in the season from summer to early autumn. ”
Clinical nutritionists at the Cleveland Clinic presented the nutritional value of dragon fruit, focusing on the aspects of fiber, protein, and biochemical compounds in it.
By chemical analysis, one dragon fruit, weighing about 100 grams, contains about 60 calories. And the amount of 1.5 (one point five) grams of protein, and about 15 grams of sugar, of which 4 grams of vegetable fiber. The amount of fat in it is very small, and it is mostly concentrated in the small black kernels inside its pulp. It contains iron, potassium and magnesium, which is equivalent to about 10-20% of an adult’s daily requirement. The amount of vitamin C varies, in different types of dragon fruit, between 8 and 15 percent of the body’s daily need for this essential vitamin. In addition to beneficial plant compounds such as polyphenols, carotenoids and betacyanin, which have antioxidant abilities.

Its different colors of fruit … Various antioxidants in dragon fruit
> Eating plant-based products rich in antioxidants, such as dragon fruit, can help fight chronic diseases related to their source of damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause cell damage, which can lead to inflammation and disease. One way to combat this is to eat foods rich in antioxidants, such as dragon fruit. Antioxidants work by neutralizing free radicals, thus preventing cell damage and reducing inflammatory activity.
Specialists at the Mayo Clinic explain: “Antioxidants are substances that can protect your cells from free radicals, which can play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Free radicals are molecules that are produced when the body breaks down food, or when you are exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and carotenoids, can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Other natural antioxidants include flavonoids, tannins, phenols and lignans. Plant foods are the best sources. In addition, fruits that are rich in antioxidants are usually also rich in fiber. The same goes for the dragon fruit.
Many studies suggest that eating foods rich in antioxidants can help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Dragon fruits contain several types of powerful antioxidants, such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene and others. Most importantly, antioxidants work best when taken naturally in food, rather than taken in pill form or as a supplement.
Regarding the healthy nutrients in dragon fruit, Mira Elek, a dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, says: “Dragon fruit contains many vitamins, minerals and beneficial compounds, including: carotenoids, which can reduce the risk of cancer, and lycopene, which can improve heart health. the risk of cancer Magnesium is important for self-function, and dragon fruit provides 18 percent of the RDI Iron is important for healthy blood and energy, dragon fruit contains 8 percent of the recommended daily requirement, and vitamin C in dragon fruit helps your body to iron absorbs and strengthens a healthy immune system, it improves intestinal health, and the healthy bacteria in your gut can aid digestion and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Some studies have shown that dragon fruit promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. And it can have a positive effect on the intestinal microbiome, the good bacteria in our intestines. ”

High amount of fiber in dragon fruit
> Caring for dietary fiber is a very important health behavior. Similar to weight loss and physical exercise. The amount of fiber in one serving of dragon fruit is close to that of an equal amount of apples, pears or potatoes, and more than that of oranges, bananas, carrots, broccoli, pistachios, almonds or corn. Therefore, it is considered a “fiber-laden” fruit.
Dietary fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate with a wide list of potential health benefits. Medicinal fiber supplement pills do not have the same health benefits as the fiber found in natural foods.
“Dragon fruit pulp is low in calories and fat free,” says Mira Elek, MD, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic. It is an excellent source of fiber. One cup contains 7 grams of fiber. And fiber benefits the health of the digestive system and the heart and blood vessels. ”
“Fiber-rich foods offer health benefits, such as helping maintain a healthy body weight and lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease or some cancers,” say Mayo Clinic doctors. They add, “Fiber can help lower cholesterol levels by lowering LDL levels. Studies have also shown that foods rich in fiber can have other heart health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and inflammation. It can slow down sugar absorption and “helps improve blood sugar levels. Studies show that higher dietary fiber intake is associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.”

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