You would have surely seen thorny cactus named prickly pear growing around randomly in the wild and also at the fences around people’s house. But, do you know how beneficial it is for good health and well-being. Are you surprised? Don’t be, as there is an excellent read including all the prickly pear benefits, uses, precautions and a lot more.
What is a prickly pear?
Prickly pear is a fruit belonging to the cactus family. Scientifically known as Opuntia ficus-India, the fruit has its roots in Mexico. It cannot survive high humidity or dry and shady surroundings. However, now you can find this fruit in several countries such as the USA, Australia, Kenya, and South Africa. The Prickly pear benefits the dry areas as they can easily convert water into biomass.
Nutritional facts – Prickly pear
The Prickly pear comprises water, protein, fatty acids, and linoleic acids. The fruit also contains vitamin C and high levels of selenium. It is low in calories and cholesterol free.
Six Lesser-known Prickly Pear Benefits
This juicy fruit is used as a cure or preventive measure to several health issues and diseases. Also, other than benefitting the human race it is also known to support other causes. Here are a few of them:
1. Prickly pear benefits the diabetics
Prickly pear is known for diabetes. Consumption of a single dose of prickly pear helps the diabetic patients by lowering their level of blood sugar by 17% to 48%. It reduces sugar absorption and the cholesterol level in intestine and stomach. On the contrary, if the patients consume this fruit, they need to keep check of low blood sugar.
2. Prickly pear benefits to prevent enlarged prostate
According to research, having prickly pear flowers in powdered form may lessen the symptoms of the enlarged prostate such as the urge to urinate. There is also pressure experienced on the bladder.
3. Prickly pear helps in lowering inherited high cholesterol
Studies show that daily intake of the prickly pear juice or pulp along with a recommended diet reduces lipoprotein cholesterol levels. It is known as bad cholesterol. This remedy needs to be followed for four weeks to witness the prickly pear benefits for lowering cholesterol.
4. Prickly pear reduces the hangover symptoms
Here is a tip for all the alcoholics out there. The extract of prickly pear benefits by reducing the symptoms of a hangover the following day. These include anorexia, nausea, and dry mouth. But, the fruit is not known to aid dizziness, headache, soreness, and diarrhea. You need to take prickly pear extract before drinking alcohol.
5. Prickly pear serves as an immunity booster
The vitamin c content of prickly pear makes it an ideal food to help shoot the immunity barrier of the body to its maximum limits. This vitamin is an integral component for the production of white blood cells that assist in maintaining the immunity of the body. This property makes it one amongst the best prickly pear benefits.
6. Prickly pear helps in digestion
As you all know by now, that prickly pear is a powerhouse of dietary fiber which makes it an ideal pick for people looking for natural ways to enhance digestion. The inclusion of this food in your diet as raw or by making a prickly pear drink can ease those bowel movements that have been a topic to bother every morning.
How to eat a prickly pear?
In Mexico, the prickly pear is of great economic importance. This fruit has a thick outer covering which needs to get peeled. The pear can be refrigerated for a few hours and then it is good to eat. You can eat the prickly pear in raw form.
Prickly pear tastes like the sweet watermelon. Also, the fruit can get consumed as prickly pear syrup, juice or extract. The stems, leaves, flowers, standardized extracts and fruit of the prickly pear benefits are highly recommended to attain good health, and you can also take it as medicine.
Prickly Pear Recipes
You can consume prickly pear with tomatoes and onions. Given below is the recipe for the same:
- Take one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and heat it on medium flame
- Add garlic, red onion, and jalapeño
- Cook it for 1 minute and stir it occasionally followed by adding prickly pear
- Cook it for 15 minutes
- Add chopped onion and tomato
- Simmer on low to medium heat until all the vegetables get cooked
- Season it through salt and pepper
- Serve it with some corn tortillas
For people with diabetes:
A diabetic patient can have a single dose of 300 grams of steamed prickly pear pad and 500 grams of broiled stems of prickly pear. It is a scientifically proven proportion.
1. Side effects on individuals
For certain people, consumption of prickly pear can lead to little side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, bloating and headache. Also, eating vast quantities of it may result in a blockage in the lower parts of the intestines.
2. During Pregnancy and breastfeeding
There is no proven research about the intake of prickly pears for breastfeeding or would-be mothers. Limit the consumption of it.
Do not eat prickly pear before a minimum of two weeks of surgery since it affects the sugar levels in the blood along with making it difficult to control during and post-surgery.
Where to find?
Although prickly fruit is native to America, it has now got introduced in various parts of the world. It is found in countries such as the Caribbean islands, Canada, Spain, and Florida to name a few. These days, it is also available online.
Thus, the prickly pear benefits to humankind are merely excellent. It helps to resolve issues related to the body. Also, it serves as a source of food to animals while restricting them to enter fenced areas. There are for sure more benefits to it than precautions. However, in case of any side effect, it is advisable to seek doctor’s guidance.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why are prickly pear promoted as superfoods?
Prickly pear is known as a treatment for diabetes. It is known for treating high cholesterol, obesity, and hangovers. The fruit is also known for its anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. The prickly fruit is also known for its medicinal properties.
Also, it gets used in many other areas. Almost every part of this plant is useful including the prickly pear seed oil. The fruit is not proven to be a superfood, but it can be a part of a healthy diet.
2. Are prickly pear fruits beneficial during pregnancy?
The fruits can get consumed in moderation. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor in this case.
3. Are these fruits available in local markets?
These fruits are basically from Mexico and hence will not be readily available in local markets of all countries. However, they are available online.