Is Prickly Pear Cactus Good For You

Although it may be too soon to label prickly pear cactus as a superfood, it can still be included in a balanced diet. It contains lots of fiber, carotenoids, and antioxidants. Prickly pear cactus is in fact well-liked throughout the world, especially in Latin America where it is a native plant.

Is prickly pear cactus okay to eat?

Mexican food features a lot of cacti and their fruits. The broad, flat cactus pads, also known as “nopales,” are a common ingredient in many main dishes in Mexico, including salads, eggs, and other cuisines. The cactus fruit, sometimes known as “prickly pears,” is extremely delicious and can be consumed straight from the plant. They can be mildly sweet or syrupy sweet, depending on the degree of ripeness.

Possibly Effective for…

  • Diabetes. Some persons can have a 17–46% reduction in blood sugar after a single dose of prickly pear cactus. It is unknown, though, if prolonged daily use may reliably lower blood sugar levels. One variety of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia streptacantha) has roasted stems that may help persons with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. However, this species’ raw or unprocessed stems don’t seem to be effective. Other varieties of the prickly pear cactus don’t seem to work either.
  • Hangover. Before consuming alcohol, taking prickly pear cactus may lessen some hangover symptoms the next day. It appears to considerably lessen dry mouth, anorexia, and nausea. Other hangover symptoms including headache, dizziness, diarrhea, or discomfort do not appear to be lessened by it, either.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…

  • prostate enlargement Men who have an enlarged prostate frequently feel that their bladder is full and have frequent, severe urogenital urges. Taken orally, powdered prickly pear cactus blossoms may help to lessen these symptoms, according to emerging research.
  • high cholesterol that is inherited (familial hypercholesterolemia). According to preliminary studies, people with hereditary high cholesterol can lower their total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels by ingesting the edible pulp of the prickly pear cactus everyday for four weeks while also following a diet.
  • high cholesterol levels. According to preliminary studies, consuming prickly pear cactus edible pulp daily while adhering to a diet can lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in patients with high cholesterol. The level of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, does not appear to be impacted.
  • metabolic disorder According to preliminary research, women with metabolic syndrome who take a special supplement comprising dried prickly pear cactus leaves (NeOpuntia) daily for six weeks do not experience any changes in their blood fat levels.
  • Obesity.
  • Colitis.
  • Diarrhea.
  • treating virus-based illnesses
  • other circumstances

To assess the effectiveness of prickly pear cactus for various uses, more data are required.

According to the following scale, the effectiveness of natural medicines is rated by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

When used as food, prickly pear cactus is LIKELY SAFE. When used orally as medication in the right dosages for a brief length of time, the prickly pear cactus’s leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and standardized extracts are POSSIBLY SAFE.

Mild diarrhea, nausea, an increase in the volume and frequency of stools, bloating, and headaches are some of the negative effects that the prickly pear cactus can produce.

What occurs if prickly pears are consumed in excess?

Prickly pears are a fruit that Moroccans both adore and detest! Its name is appropriately given given that it is the cacti plant’s fruit and has a prickly exterior. During your Moroccan road journey, you will see an impressive quantity of these prickly pear cacti almost everywhere if you glance out the window.

Despite what its name in Moroccan Arabic, l’hindia (the Indian Fig), suggests, the prickly pear traveled all the way from Mexico to Morocco in the 1770s. It is currently thriving throughout North Africa and is ingrained in the daily lives of its inhabitants.

Moroccans Love and Hate Eating the Prickly Pear

The prickly pear season starts in the beginning of July. There are now street vendors in every region of the nation, in every town and city, and even on the sides of the motorways and major highways! Prickly pears are peeled and sold for around one dirham each. The majority of individuals consume their prickly find immediately, but some take it home and store it in the refrigerator for later. Its pulp can be used to make jams and spreads, but these products will lack the seeds, which are responsible for half of the fruit’s nutritional content.

Like many wonderful things, prickly pears are best enjoyed in moderation. Depending on your digestive system, eating more than 2-3 of these may cause you to get constipated for days, or the exact opposite issue. Yes, there is love and hate.

The Incredible Health Benefits of the Prickly Pear

A considerable portion of the prickly pear is used to make pharmaceuticals and treatments. Its seeds’ oil is used to treat cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, soothes ulcers, lowers cholesterol, and combats obesity.

Although eating a lot of prickly pears won’t entirely heal you (as stated in the warning above), the oil they contain may be beneficial to your health and act as a catalyst for change in the way your body heals. It takes a ton of prickly pears to make only one liter of this priceless oil. Because of this, getting one liter costs roughly 10,000 dirhams, or about $800.

The high concentration of vitamins E, A, and C, Omega 6 fatty acids, and magnesium in superfruits is primarily responsible for their therapeutic and cosmetic effects.

The Prickly Pear in Beauty Care

This oil is regarded as a luxury organic skin care treatment and should be kept in a sacred location when used in a beauty regimen. especially while taking into account the cost! Prickly pear seed oil has proven to be quite effective at halting the negative effects of skin aging. Additionally, it is utilized for feeding, mending, and healing the skin, hair, and nails. Omega 6 and Vitamin E, which are highly desired ingredients in organic cosmetics, are abundant in it. In Morocco’s driest regions, Berber women have been utilizing this oil for decades. Many of them attribute the perfect skin they have despite working hard and being exposed to the sun, heat, and humidity to this miraculous oil.

The Prickly Pear Feeds Livestock

Animals can be fed the interior of cactus leaves since it is very affordable and simple to find. This is especially true in dry locations where it is difficult to find other plants and nutrients. Although it is not particularly high in protein, it is quite hydrating, which is very advantageous given that dehydration is a significant factor in animal fatalities during very dry summers.

The Prickly Pear Industry Empowers Women

Many women in various locations of Morocco have turned the laborious and demanding procedure of removing the seeds from the fruits into a business. These women, who are primarily from underprivileged rural areas, have discovered a financially advantageous buddy in the prickly pear. Around $4 is paid to these ladies for each kilogram of collected seeds. This may not seem like much, but for many rural Moroccan women who are trying to support their families or achieve some degree of financial independence, it is a critical amount of money. Therefore, you might respond, “Maybe not… but it kind of grows on cactus,’ the next time someone tells you that money doesn’t grow on trees. At least it does for these devoted Moroccan women.

About the Author

Meknsiya (a native of Mekns, Morocco) Lala Ouazzani enjoys exploring all that her home country has to offer. She has always loved food. Luckily for her, Morocco has a wide variety of mouthwatering foods to try. She loves learning about the history of her nation and sharing what she learns and experiences with as many people as she can. Casablanca serves as Lala’s current home base.

What advantages do cacti have as food?

In addition to their medical use, cacti are known for their nutritional worth. Both cactus pads and cactus fruit have anti-infective properties that can assist with everything from hangovers to high cholesterol problems.

The following are a few of the cactus’ health advantages:

The cactus fruit and pad are both rich in fiber, which can reduce blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, eating cactus can lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and body fat. Your chance of developing conditions including stroke, coronary heart disease, and peripheral vascular illnesses can be lowered by include cactus fruits in your diet.

Iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and more are all found in cacti. This extensive spectrum of nutrients and others can aid in lowering inflammatory levels in the body. According to research, taking cactus extract after consuming five to seven alcoholic beverages helped reduce the severity of hangover symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, or dry mouth). The body’s inflammation, which is frequently related to alcohol consumption, was also decreased by the cactus extract.

A number of diseases, including diabetes, a stroke, and heart disease, can all be indicated by high blood sugar levels in the body. A Mexican study compared the diets of those who regularly ate cactus pads to those who didn’t, and it found that those who did had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those who didn’t. According to the study, eating cactus may be a cheap approach for those with diabetes to lower their blood sugar levels.

Particularly cactus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, one of the finest immune enhancers. White blood cell production is boosted by regular vitamin C intake, which can lower your risk of infection and help your body fight off viruses if you become infected.

Is prickly pear fruit healthy for the liver?

hepatic health Some contemporary research support the use of prickly pear to treat liver issues, which has been done historically. It is believed that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of prickly pear help guard against oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which can harm the liver ( 11 ).

Do cacti cause you to pass gas?

Some people may get a laxative effect from cactus water. Avoid consuming a lot of cactus water if you are using a blood sugar-lowering medication since it may cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low.

Does prickly pears benefit hair?

The prickly pear cactus, also called the sabra, opuntia, or barbary, is a North American native that has also been flourishing in Israel for more than a century. Despite its lengthy history, consumers have only recently become aware of its incredible qualities.

The prickly pear, a fruit that starts out green before becoming reddish-pink, is regarded as a superfood because of its high nutritional value. In addition to the vitamins and minerals found in prickly pear, using it as an alternative to the more well-known argan and rosehip oils in cosmetic products has several advantages.

Delivers anti-aging benefits

The anti-aging characteristics of prickly pear products, which are ideal for mature skin, come from the fruit’s oil, which is rich in vitamins and healthy fatty acids. Wrinkles are diminished and prevented by prickly pear, which also neutralizes the free radicals that cause premature aging symptoms.

Prickly pear contains phenolic chemicals, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. These can be used to treat medical skin problems such eczema, psoriasis, and acne as well as to aid in the healing of cuts. Linoleic acid, another component of prickly pear, prevents clogged pores, one of the causes of spots, acne, and blemishes.

Softens the skin

A good source of numerous vitamins and minerals is the prickly pear. Prickly pears help a healthy digestive tract since they are rich in vitamin C, magnesium, folate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, iron, calcium, and potassium. Vitamins that are good for the skin, such vitamin E and vitamin K, are also present in its oil and aid in softening the skin.

Evens skin tone

The prickly pear’s qualities can also help skin look better. Prickly pear oil contains linoleic, oleic, and palmitic fatty acids, which nourish the skin, remove dullness, and provide it the oils it lacks to help hydrate dry and dull skin. These oils can help balance out skin tone, brighten skin, and lessen the appearance of dark circles.

Conditions hair and restores shine

Prickly pear oil contains vitamin E, which not only helps to soften the skin but may also profoundly condition hair. Hair’s natural shine is restored by the fatty acids and protein in oil, which also improves the health of the hair as a whole.

Soothes scalp

Aloe vera and prickly pear both have anti-inflammatory effects. The betalains and phenolic chemicals in prickly pears, coupled with their high antioxidant content, offer relief from itchiness and inflammation in the scalp. In addition to halting hair loss, these substances can aid in stimulating hair growth.

Special Precautions & Warnings

There isn’t enough trustworthy information about the safety of taking prickly pear cactus while pregnant or nursing, therefore avoid doing so. Avoid use to be on the safe side.

Diabetes: The prickly pear cactus may help diabetics with their blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes and take prickly pear cactus, watch out for symptoms of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and keep a close eye on your blood sugar levels.

During and after surgery, blood sugar control may be challenging due to prickly pear cactus’ potential impact on blood sugar levels. Prior to a scheduled surgery, stop using prickly pear cactus by at least two weeks.


Diabinese (Chlorpropamide) Interaction Rating: Moderate Use this combination with caution. Consult your healthcare practitioner.

Diabetic patients take chlorpropamide (Diabinese) to lower their blood sugar levels. The prickly pear cactus may also lower blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar may drop too low if you take prickly pear cactus and chlorpropamide (Diabinese) at the same time. Keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar. You might need to adjust the chlorpropamide (Diabinese) dosage.

Glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase)

Moderate interaction rating Use this combination with caution. Consult your healthcare practitioner.

People with diabetes can lower their blood sugar levels by using glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase). The prickly pear cactus may also lower blood sugar levels. The combination of prickly pear cactus and glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase) may result in dangerously low blood sugar levels. Keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar. There may be a need to adjust the dosage of glyburide (Diabeta, Micronase).

Diabetes medications (Antidiabetes drugs)

Moderate interaction rating Use this combination with caution. Consult your healthcare practitioner.

In type 2 diabetics, prickly pear cactus can lower blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are also reduced by diabetes medicines. When combined with diabetes treatments, prickly pear cactus may cause your blood sugar to drop too low. Keep a watchful eye on your blood sugar. Your diabetes medication dosage may need to be adjusted.