Although it is native to Mexico, the nopal cactus is also known as prickly pear cactus or Opuntia. Cactus fruit are known as tunas in Spanish. The thick skin of the fruit is covered in tiny spines, and it develops on the rounded edges of cactus paddles. You may cut them open to reveal a delicate, juicy inside that is filled with several dark, rounded seeds.
What flavor does cactus fruit have?
The cactus pear, often referred to as the prickly pear, cactus fig, or tuna fruit, is one of the numerous strange fruit kinds that have started to appear in grocery stores across the nation in recent years. These peculiar-looking fruits are actually the prickly pear cactus’ yearly edible growth, which is typically found in the southern United States and Mexico.
Cactus pears have a sweet, rather bland flavor that is comparable to melon. The fruit is not technically a member of the pear family, despite its name. It was merely given that name because the prickly fruit looks and acts like a pear. Although the nopales, or pads, of the prickly pear cactus are edible as well, they are rarely found outside of their native location. Nopales are sour and crisp rather than sweet like the fruit.
Colors of cactus pears range from lime green to yellow, orange, and beet red. The hues are variations that occur naturally and do not signify maturity. Glochids, which are rough bumps that cover them, bear several small, prickly spines.
It’s crucial to first remove the spines from a cactus pear before eating it. Wearing heavy-duty gloves is advised when picking your own glochids. Roasting them off over an open flame, like a campfire, is one approach that has been used traditionally to get rid of them. Alternatively, you can just cut them off with a knife or brush them off with something abrasive.
The spines should already be gone if you purchase a cactus pear at the store, but you should still scrape off the rough outer skin. Cut off both of the cactus pear’s ends with a sharp knife and throw them away. After that, make a lengthy vertical cut that runs the entire length of the cactus pear. Holding onto a corner of the thick skin, carefully pull the skin back, away from the fruit’s flesh. If this proves to be too challenging, simply cut the skin away by slipping your knife underneath.
The fruit has numerous little, edible seeds, though many people opt not to consume them. If you don’t mind the seeds, cutting into a cactus pear and eating it fresh can be a delicious treat. The delicious juice can also be turned into jelly, sorbet, or a variety of other sweet delights. It goes well with drinks like lemonade and mojitos.
What is the purpose of cactus fruit?
Amino acids, fatty acids, and antioxidants like betalains, polyphenols, and flavonoids are all present in the fruit of the Opuntia cactus.
Although the nutrients in cactus fruits vary, they all contain a range of antioxidants that are known to shield cells. These antioxidants aid in lowering your body’s levels of triglycerides and bad cholesterol. Additionally, they can lower body fat percentages and minimize your chance of developing metabolic syndrome.
Because of its betalain and potassium levels, cactus fruit can aid in bettering digestion. While betalains are anti-inflammatory and aid in protecting your digestive tract, potassium improves food absorption.
Is it okay to eat cactus fruit?
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.
Cut off the prickly pear’s two ends:
Peel the skin back:
Peel off a small section of the prickly pear’s thick, fleshy skin. Throw away the skin. The prickly pears themselves will be all that is left.
If you prefer the seeds, feel free to simply chop the prickly pear up and eat it with the seeds and all. The flesh is covered in a ton of tiny delicious seeds.
Take the juice out:
The “husked” prickly pears should be added to a blender or food processor and pulsed until they are liquefied to extract the prickly pear juice.
Put the juice through a fine mesh strainer, then strain it into a bowl or pitcher. Throw away any leftover pulp and seeds.
Anyhow you like, use the juice. 6 to 12 prickly pears, depending on their size, can provide around 1 cup of juice. Just use equal portions of prickly pear juice and fresh lemonade when blending it in.
Do you have a favorite recipe for prickly pears? Please share the information with us in the comments.
In a 3-month clinical study, cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) fiber was found to encourage weight loss. As demonstrated by in vitro studies, cactus fiber binds to dietary fat and its use results in reduced absorption, which in turn leads to reduced energy absorption and ultimately the reduction of body weight.
Subjects and Methods
For about 45 days, healthy volunteers participated in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study for this clinical investigation. Twenty healthy volunteers were randomly assigned to receive 2 tablets of cactus fiber or a placebo with each of their three main meals. During the research period, all subjects received meals (with the exception of washout) in accordance with a predefined meal plan, with fat making up 35% of the daily energy requirement. Both the baseline and treatment periods saw the collection of two 24-hour feces samples for the evaluation of the fat content.
Do diabetics benefit from cactus fruit?
Consumed often in Mexico, prickly pear cactus pads can cut blood sugar spikes after meals by almost half and may aid in managing diabetes.
Since I live in the Southwest, I am particularly interested in the plants because of its culinary and therapeutic uses. The prickly pear cactus, also known as nopal in Spanish, is one plant that looks to have several highly advantageous traits. This plant, which is originally from Mexico and the American Southwest, is now widely planted across the world, particularly in the Mediterranean areas. I endorse prickly pear extract as a supplement to help those with diabetes or pre-diabetes manage their blood sugar levels, and so does Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., one of my mentors and a fellow desert dweller who is a recognized authority on integrative medicine, dietary supplements, and women’s health. Prickly pears are frequently suggested to patients by Dr. Low Dog as food, supplements, or juice with lots of pulp. Additionally, she instructs fellows at the University of Arizona’s Integrative Medicine Program on how to make straightforward recipes with delicious cactus leaves (pads).
Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, a specialist in herbal medicine, demonstrates the correct methods for cutting, preparing, and cooking prickly pears.
When consumed with typical Mexican dishes like burritos and quesadillas, prickly pear cactus had a negative impact on blood sugar levels, according to a 2007 study published in Diabetes Care. The study’s objectives included determining the glycemic index of three popular Mexican breakfast dishes and determining the impact of cactus pads on type 2 diabetes individuals’ postprandial glucose response. A supper of scrambled eggs and tomato burritos, chilaquiles (cheese, beans, and tomato sauce with corn 1/2 tortillas), or quesadillas with avocados and pinto beans, with or without 85 grams of prickly pear cactus pads, was given to the 36 type-2 diabetic participants following an 18-hour fast. According to the study, when prickly pear cactus was ingested concurrently with all meal types, as opposed to when it was not supplemented, blood sugar levels were decreased. The percentage of reductions varied based on the meal, with prickly pear cactus with quesadillas being linked to a 48 percent reduction, prickly pear cactus plus chilaquiles to a 30% reduction, and prickly pear cactus plus burritos to a 20% reduction.
Cactus pears have previously been connected to improvements in diabetes-related health. The metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and abnormal glucose and insulin metabolism, demonstrated significant benefits in a previous trial using a prickly pear cactus extract. Increased type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks have been related to the condition.
Prickly pear is also well-liked in Mexico for reducing hangovers; a Tulane University study that was published in the June 28, 2004 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine supported the efficacy of this traditional treatment. Researchers discovered that taking a prickly pear extract five hours before ingesting five to seven alcoholic drinks resulted in considerably lower levels of nausea, dry mouth, and appetite loss the next day in participants than did taking a placebo. However, the extract did not stop the headaches and lightheadedness that come with a hangover. The benefits, according to the researchers, were associated with the potent anti-inflammatory properties of prickly pear. The juice contains betalains, an unique class of antioxidants that gives beets and red Swiss chard their vibrant color. Additionally, prickly pear juice is rich in vitamin C.
According to certain studies, prickly pear may also aid in lowering cholesterol. A tiny Italian study from 2003 found that prickly pear extract may lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels but had no impact on HDL (“good”) or triglyceride levels (only 10 patients participated). The Nuclear Medicine Review of Central and Eastern Europe published the study’s findings. Another small study at the University of Vienna in Austria with 24 participants discovered that prickly pear decreased total cholesterol (by 12%), LDL (by 15%), triglycerides (by 12%), blood sugar (by 11%), insulin (by 11%), and uric acid (by 10%), but had no effect on HDL or other lipid measurements.