Prickly pear –I know, its name is a bit weird. But you know what’s weirder –people not knowing this amazing fruit. Well, actually, while it is normal that people don’t know this fruit, it is good to know that this fruit is interestingly good for the health. Actually, there are various essential nutrients in prickly pear, which are all essential for the overall health. All of these also make up the important health benefits of prickly pears. These include its ability to reduce inflammation, aid in losing weight, prevent certain types of cancer, make the blood vessel stronger. boost the immunity, stimulate the bone growth, reduce the possibility of diabetes, improve digestion, and lower the cholesterol elves, among others. If you want to learn more about the prickly pear, feel free to give this article a read.
Prickly Pear: What is this?
The prickly pear or what they call the cactus fruit, is actually the typical fruit name of the drupe, which grows at the top of Nopales cacti leaves. This particular fruit spread all over South and North America. Furthermore, there are about 200 different species of Nopales cacti, all of these have various forms of this fruit. Note, however, that not all of its varieties are edible. The most common out of all its species when it comes to cooking and eating are the Indian Fig Opuntia, or what they scientifically call as O. ficus-indica.
The most fascinating thing about this particular fruit is that it is capable of growing at the edge of the spiny leaves of Nopales cacti. Remember, the nopales cacti are some of the hardest lowland cacti in the world, the same trait that its fruit has inherited. Moreover, the prickly pear is in an oval shape and its color may range from light green and yellow to orange, red, or pink. This varies on the fruit’s ripeness and variety. Even though all cacti are precisely native to the Americas, the prickly pears, as well as its fruit, have spread all over the world, from the Middle East, Europe, Morocco, up to Egypt.
Since it is a type of cactus, this plant is capable of surviving in arid weather circumstances. It is also said to originate in Mexico, as well as in various northern countries in South America that fall under the semi-arid to arid climate classes. In these said areas, it has been a staple for more a thousand years. Later, it is known to be beneficial in Indian and Middle Eastern subcontinent too.
Nutritional Facts of Prickly Pear
Aside from the uncommon origin, appearance, and name of this fruit, it also possess distinct composition of nutrients, including dietary fiber, copper, calcium, potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and rich levels of vitamin C. When it comes to the organic compounds of this fruit, it has rich levels of betalains, polyphenols, and flavonoids. All of which bring positive impact to the overall health. Please refer to the table below to learn more about the essential nutritional content of prickly pear.
|Total lipid||0.51 grams|
|Vitamin C||14 milligrams|
|Vitamin B6||0.06 milligrams|
|Vitamin B12||0 micrograms|
|Vitamin A||2 micrograms|
|Vitamin A||43 International Units|
|Saturated fats||0.07 grams|
|Monounsaturated fats||0.08 grams|
|Polyunsaturated fats||0.21 grams|
|Total trans fat||0 gram|
Health Benefits of Prickly Pears
Here are some of the most astonishing health benefits of prickly pears:
- Helps in reducing inflammation. In traditional medicine, prickly pears are mashed and are topically applied to various body parts with inflammation. When you consume it, the minerals and antioxidants in it may help in lowering inflammation. Specifically, in muscle strain, gout, or arthritis.
- Possesses antioxidant properties. Prickly pears’ antioxidants are essential in protecting the skin, lowering the possibility of premature aging, increase the cognition, and improve the vision, among others.
- Helps in preventing cancer. This is one of the best health benefits of prickly pears. There is a high amount of betalains, polyphenols, and flavonoids in prickly pears. All of which act as antioxidant properties and help neutralize the free radicals. This is before causing any mutation and cause the onset of cancer.
- Helps in protecting heart Various components in the prickly pear are essential for heart health. Firstly, the fibers in the fruit may help in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Secondly, the potassium content of the fruit may help in lowering the blood pressure levels. Finally, the betalains are essential in making the endothelial walls of the blood vessels stronger.
- Aids in digestion. There is a significant level of dietary fiber in the prickly pears. This is essential in bulking up the stool and help the food pass through the digestive system easily. Thus, eliminating constipation, bloating, and serious GI conditions.