(Natural News) Dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus), also known as pitaya, is an exotic-looking fruit with bright pink scaly outer skin and a white or red flesh speckled with black seeds. Looking beyond its physical appearance, dragon fruit tastes sweet and is extremely refreshing. What’s more, dragon fruit offers potential digestive health benefits, including a laxative effect.
Research has shown that dragon fruit oligosaccharides have a prebiotic-like effect. The fruit stimulated the growth of certain lactobacilli and bifidobacteria – all of which have been associated with improved gut health in humans.
In the current study, which was published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, researchers found that dragon fruit contains carbohydrates called oligosaccharides that not only promote gut bacteria count, but also promote gut health and improve bowel movements. Researchers from the Prince of Songkla University and Mahidol University in Thailand reported that dragon fruit oligosaccharides serve as a bulk-forming and stimulant laxative.
For the study, the researchers used white-fleshed dragon fruits grown in Thailand. Then, they divided mice into six groups. One group received distilled water only, another group received 109 colony forming units (CFU) Bifidobacterium animalis, and the third group received 1,000 mg/kg of fructo-oligosaccharide. The remaining three groups received dragon fruit oligosaccharides at 100, 500, and 1,000?mg/kg. The treatments were given daily for one week. In addition, the researchers assessed gastrointestinal transits and evaluated smooth muscle contractions and morphological structures of the colons.
The results showed that supplementing with fructo-oligosaccharides and dragon fruit oligosaccharides at 500 and 1,000?mg/kg greatly increased fecal output when compared to the control group. In addition, mice treated with dragon fruit oligosaccharides exhibited an increased number of colonic non-propagation contractions and fecal pellet velocity. These effects suggested the eradication of diarrheal symptoms. These were also consistent with the results from groups treated with fructo-oligosaccharides and bifidobacteria.
Moreover, the dragon fruit oligosaccharides increased colonic smooth muscle contractions without morphological effects, and enhanced upper gut transit, which reduced the travel time of the content to the colon and reduced total gut transit time.
Based on these results, the researchers concluded that dragon fruits, especially those rich in oligosaccharides, can be used as a food supplement for improving gut health. (Related: Dragon fruit: the scaly-looking food with amazing health benefits.)
Health benefits of dragon fruits
There are more reasons to enjoy a refreshing dragon fruit.
- It is loaded with antioxidants – Antioxidants are good for the body because they neutralize harmful free radicals that can damage cells. Dragon fruit contains the antioxidants betacyanins and betaxanthins. The antioxidant activity of dragon fruit may help prevent inflammatory conditions such as gout and other forms of arthritis, according to a study published in the World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
- It provides many vitamins and nutrients – In addition to antioxidants and oligosaccharides, dragon fruit offers many nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and vitamins A and C. It also offers smaller amounts of calcium and copper. The small seeds of the dragon fruit also contain omega-3 and omega-9 fatty acids and natural oils – all of which are good for the heart.
- It may help with better control of diabetes – Consuming dragon fruit can be beneficial to people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. A meta-analysis published in the journal PLOS One found that dragon fruit promotes the growth of pancreatic cells that produce insulin, leading to better control of blood sugar. In addition, the paper’s authors found that the more dragon fruit a person eats, the greater the blood sugar benefits can be.
Dragon fruit is a great addition to a health-promoting diet. Learn more about the health benefits of dragon fruits at Fruits.news.