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 minimise 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.
What are the cactus’ medical applications?
The prickly pear cactus, often referred to as nopal, opuntia, and other names, is marketed as a remedy for hangovers, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. It is also praised for having anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities.
What occurs when you consume cactus fruit?
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Contrary to what the majority of people believe, almost all cactus fruits are edible and packed with beneficial minerals. The pads of the plants, for example, are also tasty. This wild fruit is sweet and healthful, just like any other fruit. But if you’ve never tried the fruit, you might be wondering whether it’s actually safe to eat. We’ve got you covered, so don’t worry.
Therefore, is cactus fruit toxic? No. Cactus fruits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but none of them are poisonous. Eaten cactus fruits are all safe. The sole distinction between the fruits of various cacti species is that some are sourer and more bitter than others. All of them, though, are edible and safe to eat. The Opuntia genus produces a sizable portion of the edible cactus fruits.
Continue reading to learn more about cacti fruits and some of the most popular varieties. So let’s get started straight away.
Is cactus juice healthy to consume?
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Along with other plant-based beverages like coconut water and aloe vera juice, cactus water is the most recent beverage to enter the natural beverage industry.
The juice from the vivid pink fruit of the prickly pear, or nopal, cactus is typically used to make cactus drinks. Cactus water is hence pink in colour rather than clear.
The beverage is naturally low in calories and sugar and high in minerals and antioxidants that promote good health. Additionally, because it includes electrolytes that might help with hydration, it is frequently sold to athletes.
Also useful for skin treatment, cactus water is an ingredient in many cosmetic and beauty products.
Cactus water comes in a variety of brands, but you can easily brew your own at home with prickly pear fruit and a few basic ingredients.
This page discusses cactus water, including its composition in nutrients, advantages, and preparation.
Is cactus fruit beneficial for losing weight?
The flat paddles of the Opuntiaficus-indica cactus plant bear prickly pear fruit.
It has a lot of antioxidant chemicals and is high in fibre. As a result, it’s believed to aid in a number of conditions, including liver health, blood sugar control, and weight loss. However, further human research is required.
Prickly pear fruit and pads are delicious in many dishes, particularly Mexican food.
Just one thing
Try it out now: To use in a recipe this week, buy a prickly pear fruit (or cactus pads, also known as nopales) from the market. Try hunting for them at a Mexican grocery shop or other establishment that sells unusual fruits if you don’t reside in a region where prickly pears are native.
What occurs when cactus juice is consumed?
You may have heard that if you ever become stranded and dehydrated in the desert, a cactus may provide you with water. Although it seems like a good survival tip to keep on hand, is it really that simple? It transpires that a cactus is not essentially a freshwater basin covered in spines. In a dry environment full of thirsty creatures, such a plant would not survive for very long. In addition to their frightening spines, most cactus species further guard their spongy flesh with acids and powerful alkaloids since water is a very valuable resource in a desert. Most people find these substances to be too bitter to tolerate, and ingesting them puts a strain on the kidneys. Some cactus species’ meat can also result in temporary paralysis, vomiting, and diarrhea—none of which are helpful for your survival in a crisis. The prickly pear and one species of barrel cactus, the fishhook barrel, stand out as prominent outliers to this norm (Ferocactus wislizeni). While both of these plants are fairly unpleasant to consume raw, they contain fewer harmful compounds and could provide some hydration in an emergency. Better options include cactus fruits, however many are unpleasant to eat raw.
*Of course, all of this assumes that you are stranded in a desert in the New World with real cacti. Members of the Euphorbiaceae family, which resemble cactus plants, are poisonous and can be found in the deserts of Madagascar and southern Africa. If this plant’s milky sap gets in your eyes, it can permanently blind you and burn your skin and mucous membranes. Do not attempt to consume those.
Christopher Columbus claimed to have seen mermaids off the coast of what is now the Dominican Republic; however, they were manatees, and he described them as “not half as beautiful as how they were drawn.”
Does cactus benefit the kidneys?
Nopal is a big prickly pear cactus that is indigenous to dry regions of South and North America. It is traditionally consumed by Mexicans as food and used medicinally as a laxative, anti-inflammatory, and to treat high blood sugar and alcohol hangovers.
Nopal has a blood sugar-lowering function, but the precise mechanism is unknown, despite the fact that it contains significant levels of soluble fibre and pectin, which may impact how well glucose is absorbed. Although earlier research disputes fiber’s significance in lowering blood glucose levels in animal trials, it does not propose a substitute mechanism. 34 Opuntia extract (1 mg/kg body weight) used for 7 weeks in conjunction with insulin and then Opuntia extract alone allowed blood sugar levels to quickly revert to those of non-diabetic rats. In a recent animal experiment, diabetic rats treated with streptozotocin (STZ) were given liquid and filtered extracts of Opuntia streptacantha to see how they would react. 35 The extracts weren’t able to lower blood sugar levels. But when administered before an OGTT, it had an antihyperglycemic effect, indicating a potential mechanism involving inhibiting hepatic glucose outflow.
A mild to moderately positive effect on people with T2DM has been confirmed by a number of small (N = 732) published clinical trials (all carried out by the same research group) utilising various forms and doses of Opuntia species.
The broiled stem of Opuntia streptacantha, which was administered as a dose of 100–500 g per day, was the most popular type of nopal utilised in the experiments.
Nopal should not be consumed by those who are nursing, pregnant, or have kidney problems. Bloating in the stomach area, diarrhoea, and nausea are possible side effects. In people using antidiabetic drugs, it should be used cautiously (one case report). 40
Packed with antioxidants
While we don’t want to bore you with a science lesson, antioxidants do merit a little explanation. Antioxidants help to maintain good health by assisting in the battle against free radicals, which are to blame for the development of many chronic illnesses. In the simplest terms possible, antioxidants maintain our cellular health. The most well-known ones include vitamins (vitamins A, C, and E), selenium, and flavonoids, all of which naturally present in fruit and vegetables. If that seems a little too abstract, let’s just state that they are all vitamins. The water from prickly pears has been scientifically related to the elimination of toxins and contains some of the most potent plant-based antioxidants.
We all know that water makes up the majority of our bodies. We need water to maintain a healthy metabolism, maintain healthy skin (that glow you’re chasing), enhance cognition, and avoid headaches.
Although we are all too aware with the daily water intake guidelines, in reality we fall short of them. To quench our thirst or to receive an energy boost, we frequently turn to coffee or a carbonated beverage.
Another issue is that we frequently confuse hunger and thirst. According to a recent study reported in The Seattle Times, respondents mistook hunger for thirst 62 percent of the time and properly identified thirst only 2 percent of the time. This is due to:
- Some signs of mild dehydration, such as headaches or trouble concentrating, are similar to hungry signs.
- Even our own brains can occasionally become confused because hunger and thirst are processed by the same area of the brain (the hypothalamus!).
What health benefits does the prickly pear have?
A plant is the prickly pear cactus. In Mexican and Mexican-American cultures, it is a staple of the diet. Older plants are too hardy; only the young plant is consumed. Additionally, prickly pear cactus is employed in medicine.
Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, hangovers from alcohol, colitis, diarrhoea, and benign prostatic hypertrophy are all treated with prickly pear cactus (BPH). Viral infections are also fought off using it.
One research team has conducted the majority of the study on this product in Mexico.
How does it work?
The fibre and pectin found in prickly pear cacti can reduce blood sugar by reducing the absorption of sugar in the stomach and intestine. According to some researchers, it may also lower cholesterol levels and eliminate infections from the body.
Is cactus beneficial for growing hair?
Commonly used in shampoo and conditioner formulas, cactus water transforms lifeless, dry hair into lustrous, bouncy, healthy hair. Due to its high concentration of amino acids and iron, both of which are necessary for hair growth, it contains qualities that help revitalise hair.
Can cactus help lower blood pressure?
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 fibre, 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.
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 recognised 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 grammes 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 characterised 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, a unique class of antioxidants that gives beets and red Swiss chard their vibrant colour. 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.