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Food as Medicine: 10+ Scientifically Proven Medicinal Properties of Pitaya [Dragon Fruit]

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Scientific studies have confirmed that food is medicine; and, the food you welcome in your sanctuary has the power to heal or harm. In this article, we'll be discussing the healing power of pitaya [dragon fruit].


Pitaya [dragon fruit] holds many medicinal properties including being filled with antidiabetic, anticancer, antianemic and even anti-aging capabilities. Pitaya has been proven to boost your immune system, improve gut biome, provide pregnancy support, improve bone health + more.

Below you'll find the ultimate guide to the medicinal properties of pitaya and the scientific studies that prove you can use food as medicine. Keep reading to find the complete nutritional facts for pitaya like you've never seen them before.


Nutritional content for pitaya [dragon fruit] was sourced from USDA SR-21. Each "0" indicates incomplete or missing data.


Nature's Medicine The Science Nutritional Content Recipes

Pitaya [Dragon Fruit] is Mother Nature's Medicine

What if we shifted the stories we told ourselves about pitaya? What if instead of thinking of pitaya as the ingredient that turns Instagram smoothies bright pink, we wake up to the reality that pitaya is one of the many gifts Mother Nature has given us to heal ourselves from all of the damage caused by really great marketing campaigns?

For as long as I can remember, the idea of using food as medicine has fascinated me! Once I found PubMed, Research Gate, University of Oregon, Harvard University + the British Medical Journal searchable databases, a significant chunk of my ‘me time’ has gone to learning how to navigate the largest, most effective pharmacy in the world that is accessible to everyone, even those on food stamps.

Inclusion matters; which is why, I want to shift the public paradigm that believes holistic healing is a luxury only available for the rich or famous to something that literally everyone deserves.

Read on to find the studies for 10+ different scientifically proven medicinal properties of pitaya. I'll offer a brief bio for each & encourage you to click the links to read further. Below the PubMed articles you’ll find synapses of all of the vitamins, minerals and electrolytes present in pitaya along with how your body uses those vitamins, minerals and electrolytes.

I stopped her due to time; however, if you are interested in learning more, I encourage you to check the research engines for more information on the medicinal properties of pitaya [dragon fruit].


The Science Behind the Medicinal Properties of Pitaya [Dragon Fruit]

1 Anti-Diabetic - Remember when we were growing up and the consensus was that fruit was off limits if you were diabetic? Turns out that a bunch of fruits are actually great for combating or regulating diabetes, pitaya being one of them - yes, Girl!

2 Hair Support - Pitaya has been shown to encourage hair growth in women with thinning of poor hair growth patterns.

3 Anticancer - Cancer is such a fear for so many of us, with all of us being impacted by it one way or another. When I married into a family riddled with it, I began researching + implementing the foods proven to prevent, combat and beat cancer as staples in our diet.

Turns out that it’s really true - the antidote is always found in nature. Pitaya is one of my favorite flavors of medicine. Try it, you’ll like it!

4 Immune Support - A healthy immune system is a must to face all the microbes we come in contact with each day. Pitaya have been shown to support your immune system so that it can support you.

5 Anti-Aging - What? You can eat pitaya and slow the aging process? Sounds so much more cost effective than those expensive creams filled with toxic ingredients being pushed on us at seemingly every kiosk we pass!

6 Digestive Support - If you struggle with constipation, try adding some pitaya [dragon fruit] to your menu to regulate your digestion. For a refreshing an energizing holiday inspired snack, toss a pitaya [dragon fruit] packet into the blender along with a banana, strawberries, mangoes, broccoli, a medjool date, and some Sweet Aloha Honey then freeze in some popsicle molds for an afternoon pick me up that tastes like a chocolate covered orange. Merry Christmas, Babe!

7 Pregnancy Support - Pitaya has been shown to be beneficial for consumption in pregnancy, and helps regulate hemoglobin levels + anemia in pregnant women.

8 Bone Health Support - Pitaya [dragon fruit] are so good that they have been proven to support your bone healthtoo. With all the osteoporosis the United States faces each year, it looks like a daily tropical smoothie would go a lot further than the calcium leaching dairy that is pushed on us. We’ll go over more on that topic over on the Ingredients as Poison tab.

9 Gut Biome Support - Your microbiome is the center of your health + longevity. It takes as little as 1 meal to throw it out of balance. Pitaya [dragon fruit] is the fuel the probiotics in your gut need to process through everything you’re trying to digest and keep you functioning like the well oiled machine you are meant to be.

10 Antioxidant - Antioxidants help your body to remediate the damage caused by stress. Pitaya has been shown to holdantioxidant properties. Dragon fruit is one of our favorite fruits to eat straight out of the freezer. You should try it, you’ll like it.

Bonus Anti-Anemic - We often hear about combating anemia with constipating pills or animal products. Pitaya [dragon fruit] has been shown toreduce anemia.


Vitamin, Mineral + Electrolyte Content of Pitaya [Dragon Fruit]


Beta Carotene [A]: Your body needs beta carotene to create Vitamin A, which it uses for vision + eye health, immune system support and maintain healthy skin + mucous membranes, cellular communication, reproduction and growth.

Low beta carotene levels have been linked to vision loss, blindness, complications of heart, lungs, skin, tissues and immune system, bitot spots, keratinization of the eyes, xerosis and thickening of the conductive and corneas.

Thiamine [B1]: Your body needs thiamine to help generate energy from the other nutrients you consume. Your cells require thiamine for growth, development and function, electrolyte balance, immune system support, stress support, nervous system support and prevents complications in the brain, muscles, heart, intestines and stomach.

Low thiamine levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, heart failure, depression, irritability, poor memory, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, weight loss, fatigue and sleep disturbances.

Riboflavin [B2]: Your body needs Riboflavin to convert Pyroxidine [B6] and Folate [B9] into forms it can use. Your body also uses Riboflavin to fight free radicals and reduce some of the damage they cause, maintaining energy and breaking down macronutrients.

Low riboflavin has been linked to endocrine abnormalities, skin disorders, hyperemia, edema of the throat, lesions at the corner of the mouth, swollen + cracked lips, hair loss, sore throat, itchy or red eyes, reproductive problems, degeneration of the nervous system and liver.

Niacin [B3]: Your body needs Niacin for conversion of food into energy. Your body also utilizes Niacin for the health of your nervous, digestive and dermal systems. Niacin also helps metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates. One study found that niacin enhances demyelination of an aging nervous system and rejuvenates microglia + macrophage.

Low niacin levels have been linked to fatigue, pellagra, aggression, suicidal behaviors, canker sores, poor circulation, vomiting, depression, indigestion, apathy, fatigue, sun rashes, rough appearance to the skin, bright red tongue, headaches, constipation and diarrhea.

Pantothenic Acid [B5]: Your body uses pantothenic acid to regulate cholesterol, conversion of carbohydrates into glucose, , nervous system function, maintain healthy hair, skin + eyes, aid in skin care + wound healing and combat rheumatoid arthritis.

Low B5 is associated with headache, fatigue, depression, insomnia, irritability, fatigue, vomiting, stomach pains, burning feet and upper respiratory infections.

Pyridoxine [B6]: Your body uses pyridoxine in brain development and keeping both the immune + nervous systems healthy. Pyridoxine has been shown to reduce the signs of depression, reduce Alzheimer’s risk, help with PMS, anemiaand cognition.

Low pyridoxine las been linked to numbness in the hands and feet, dermatitis, a tongue that is sore or red, cracks in the corners of the mouth, confusion, depression, irritability, crankiness, morning sickness, anemic, low energy, rashes, brain fog, cancer, weakening immune response and seizures.

Folate [B9]: Your body uses folate to metabolize protein and form both DNA + RNA. We are most familiar with folate’s role in neural tube disorders when the mother does not consume enough Folate during her pregestational and gestational phases.

Low folate levels have been linked to dizziness, unstable gait, poor memory, proximal weakness, tingling or numbness in the extremities, chronic headache, early tiredness, forgetfulness, distal weakness and anemia.

Ascorbic Acid [C]: Your body needs ascorbic acid for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine and selected neurotransmitters. Likewise, your body utilizes vitamin C for protein metabolism, wound healing and anti-oxidation. Vitamin C has also been shown to be used within your body to regenerate other antioxidants.

Low vitamin C levels have been linked to gum inflammation, malaise, weakened connective tissues, joint pain, poor wound healing, anemia, petechiae, ecchymoses, purpura, hyperkeratosis, depression, swollen or bleeding gums, loosening or loss of teeth, corkscrew hairs and full blown scurvy.

Choline: Your body uses choline to regulate muscle control, mood, memory and many other functions controlled by your brain and nervous system.

Low choline levels have been linked to fatty liver disease, liver and muscle damage, anxiety and depression.

a-Tocophoral [E]: Your body uses vitamin E as an antioxidant to protect tissues from free radical damage, support the immune system, form red blood cells, widen blood vessels to prevent clots, cellular communication, and vitamin K utilization.

Low Vitamin E levels have been linked to a weakened immune system, nerve + muscle damage, decreased night vision.

Phylloquinone [K]: Your body uses vitamin K to build the proteins required for building bones and clotting blood. Vitamin K is also required to regulate blood calcium levels, prevent coronary heart disease, combat cancer and use insulin more effectively.

Low vitamin K levels have been linked to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis, dementia, cognitive impairment, osteoporosis, mobility disability & frailty.


Calcium: Your body uses calcium for blood clotting, acid balance, muscle contraction, nerve impulse + function, intracellular contraction, regulation of heart rhythm, vasodilation, vascular contraction, building strong bones and maintaining a healthy fat to muscle mass ratio.

Low calcium levels have been linked to hypoparathyroidism, muscle aches, cramps or spasms, pain in extremities when moving, numbness and tingling in the extremities, convulsions, arrhythmia, confusion, memory loss, depression, hallucinations and weak or brittle nails.

Chloride: Your body uses chloride for proper fluid balance, absorption + transportation of nutrients, blood pressure regulation, nerve signal transmission and muscle contraction or relaxation. It also is an essential part of stomach acid. It's hard to find information on chloride levels in most foods; although, we do know that it is present in most plant foods in levels that mirror or almost mirror sodium levels.

Low chloride levels have been linked to fluid loss, food refusal, dehydration, fatigue, weakness, difficulty breathing, chronic heart failure, vomiting and diarrhea.

Magnesium: Your body needs magnesium for over 300 biochemical reactions including but not limited to muscle + nerve function, immune system support, heartbeat regulation, balancing blood glucose levels and it aids in the production of protein + ADP [energy]. Magnesium also helps with sleep.

Low magnesium levels have been linked to muscle cramps, nystagmus, refractory hypokalemia, refractory hypocalcaemia, eclampsia, cardiac arrhythmias, fatigue, sleep disorders, poor appetite, vomiting, nausea, seizures, abnormal heart rate and numbness or tingling in the skin.

Potassium: Your body needs potassium to maintain normal blood pressure, help muscles contract, regulate nerve signalsand maintain normal levels of fluids within your cells. Contrary to marketing, bananas are not the best source of potassium.

Low potassium levels have been linked to psychosis, depression, constipation, muscle weakness, fatigue, high blood pressure, polyuria, muscle paralysis, breathing issues, irregular heart rhythms.

Sodium: Your body uses sodium to create nerve impulses, contract or relax muscles, and maintain a proper balance of minerals and fluids.

Low sodium levels have been linked to headaches, confusion, drowsiness, lethargy, restlessness, irritability, seizures, coma, disorientation and osmotic demyelination syndrome.


Copper: Your body uses copper in the production of red blood cells, formation of collagen. Copper is utilized in the health maintenance of nerve cells and your immune system.

Low copper levels have been linked to Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, anemia, low body temperature, bone fractures, osteoporosis, low white blood cell counts, thyroid problems, loss of skin pigment and irregular heartbeat.

Iron: Your body needs iron to make both hemoglobin and myoglobin. Both proteins perform the function of transporting oxygen from the lung to all tissues of the body and the muscles. DNA synthesis, electron transport and several hormones also require iron.

Low iron has been linked to headaches, dizziness, cold hands and feet, extreme fatigue, pale skin, weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath, brittle nails, inflamed or sore tongue, chills, weakness, restless legs, pica and bruising.

Manganese: Your body uses manganese along with certain enzymes to metabolize amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. Manganese is also essential for bone formation, reactive oxygen formation, reproduction, immune responses, sex hormone production, blot clotting, and hemostasis. Your body also requires manganese for calcium absorption, carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar regulation.

Low Manganese levels have been linked to skin rashes, hair depigmentation, decreased serum cholesterol, demineralization of the bones, poor fertility, short stature, low muscle tone, dystonia [tremors], deafness, intellectual disability, strabismus [inability to align the eyes] developmental delay, altered mood and increased premenstrual pain in women and increased alkaline phosphatase activity in men.

Phosphorus: Your body uses phosphorus for the production of both DNA + RNA as well as the growth, maintenance and repair of all body tissues and cells - especially bones + teeth. Phosphorus also helps with the balance of Vitamin D, Iodine, Magnesium and Zinc. Phosphorus helps maintain PH levels in your body + is required for proper muscle function.

Low phosphorus levels have been linked to anxiety, bone pain, frail bones, loss of appetite, fatigue, stiff joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, numbness, irregular breathing, stupor, coma and death.

Selenium: Your body needs selenium for immune system function, DNA synthesis, oxidative damage protection, fertility & cognition.

Low selenium levels have been linked to mental fog, hair loss, severely weakened immune system, infertility, muscle weakness, anxiety, depressed mood, hostile behavior, Kashin-beck disease and Keshan disease.

Sulfur: Your body uses sulfur for formation of protein molecules, building + fixing DNA, maintaining health of ligaments, tendons and skin. Sulfur also contributes to metabolism and cancer prevention.

Low sulfur levels have been linked to pain + inflammation, obesity, depression, arthritis, acne, brittle hair and nails, confusions, memory loss, cartilage reduction and cellular damage.

Zinc: Your body utilizes zinc to support 100 enzymes and chemical reactions. Your body also uses zinc for the creation of DNA, healing damaged heart tissue, building proteins, growing new cells and supporting your immune system.

Low zinc levels have been linked to diarrhea, irritability, loss of appetite, hair loss, infections, eye problems, inflammation, gastrointestinal + cutaneous issues and pallor.


Shanni's Favorite Pitaya Recipes

Now that you can clearly see how amazing Mother Nature's medicine is, are you ready to try it? Click here to access some of my favorite pitaya [dragon fruit] recipes. I'll update the list each time I add a new recipe to the blog; so, be sure to check back regularly if you need help with ideas to take advantage of the medicinal properties of pitaya [dragon fruit].

And remember, as you search for the best diet to lose weight quickly and then sustain it - the antidote is found in nature. When you eat real food instead of food-like substances, your hormones will balance out which will make it easy for you to lose 20, 50, 70 or 100 pounds effortlessly. This year as you think, ‘New year, new you,’ associate that thought with a focus on fueling your body with the micronutrients it needs to keep you energized, functional and sleeping well.

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