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7 Benefits of Prickly Pear, aka Prickly Pear Cactus, that are Good for Health

According to healthline - Cacti are generally recognised as ornamental plants. These spiny plants are in high demand because they are relatively easy to maintain.

However, have you ever thought of eating cactus dishes? Not many people know that cactus plants are edible and even beneficial for health. One type of cactus that can be eaten is the prickly pear cactus, also known as the nopales cactus.

Prickly pear cactus has an oval shape and is red to orange in colour. This type of cactus usually grows on cactus trees with sharp spines.

Prickly pear cactus is one of the edible types of cactus.

Prickly pear cactus is one of the edible types of cactus. This cactus, which can also be referred to as the nopales cactus, is generally green or purple in colour and is about the size of an adult's hand.

Prickly pear cactus is quite popular in Mexico and Latin America. In Mexico, this cactus is commonly eaten raw or stir-fried with other complementary ingredients, such as tacos, scrambled eggs, tomatoes and onions.

To make the dish tastier, the cactus plants used should be young and tender. Apart from being eaten raw or stir-fried, some people also process prickly pear cactus into juice, jam, and even tea.

Health benefits of eating prickly pear cactus

Prickly pear cactus is believed to help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes, relieve hangovers, and lower cholesterol levels. For more details, here are the various health benefits of prickly pear cactus:

1. High in nutrients

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), prickly pear has nutritional content that should not be underestimated.

In 100 grams of prickly pear, there are the following nutrients:

Protein: 0.73 grams

Total fat: 0.51 grams

Carbohydrates: 9.57 grams

Fibre: 3.6 grams

Calcium: 56 milligrams

Iron: 0.3 milligrams

Magnesium: 85 milligrams

Phosphorus: 24 milligrams

Potassium: 220 milligrams

Sodium: 5 milligrams

Zinc: 0.12 milligrams

Copper: 0.08 milligrams

Selenium: 0.6 microgrammes

Vitamin C: 14 milligrams

Vitamin B1: 0.01 milligrams

Vitamin B2: 0.06 milligrams

Vitamin B3: 0.46 milligrams

Vitamin B6: 0.06 milligrams.

With the various nutrients above, it is not surprising that many people find prickly pear fruit beneficial for health.

2. Boosts the immune system

According to a study released in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating cactus fruits such as prickly pear is believed to boost the immune system. This benefit is obtained through the vitamin C and E content of cactus fruits.

A prickly pear can fulfil 1/3 of your daily vitamin C requirement. This vitamin stimulates the production of white blood cells and acts as an antioxidant in the body.

3. Strengthens bones and teeth

Prickly pear contains high levels of calcium, which is considered to help strengthen bones and teeth.

By fulfilling your daily calcium needs, you can avoid dental problems and bone diseases such as osteoporosis.

4. Improves digestion

Fruits from cactus trees such as prickly pear contain fibre, which is good for the digestive system.

Fibre is responsible for compacting stool and moving food through the digestive tract, preventing constipation, bloating, and serious digestive problems such as gastric ulcers.

5. Maintains heart health

There are several ingredients in prickly pear that are good for heart health. Firstly, this prickly pear cactus fruit contains fibre that can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the body.

Secondly, the potassium content can lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. In addition, the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) can avoid stress.

Prickly pear is also believed to prevent atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke.

6. Potential to prevent cancer

According to a journal in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004), prickly pear contains flavonoids, polyphenols, and betalains.

All three can act as antioxidants and neutralise free radicals before they cause cells to mutate. This is why prickly pear is believed to prevent cancer.

Another study from the University of Arizona also revealed that prickly pear can inhibit tumour growth in mice. However, further research is needed to prove its efficacy.

7. Lose weight

Reporting from Organic Facts, prickly pear can help you lose weight. This benefit comes from the high fibre and low calorie content of prickly pear.

In addition, prickly pear does not contain a lot of saturated fat. The fibre and carbohydrate content can also help you avoid overeating.

8. Makes sleep better

The next benefit of prickly pear cactus is that it makes you sleep better. This is thanks to the magnesium content, which is a type of mineral that aims to increase drowsiness in people with insomnia, chronic anxiety, or restlessness.

Nopales cactus also releases the hormone serotonin while increasing melatonin levels in the body, which has a calming and sleep-inducing effect.

Content created and supplied by: Sportyblitz (via Opera News )


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