What are the benefits of prickly pear? Prickly pear fruits are one of the types of cactus fruits that are edible, characterized by their delicious sweet taste. In our article, we will discuss the benefits of prickly pear, its places of spread, its cultivation sites, its nutritional value, and the potential harms of eating it frequently.
What is the prickly pear fruit?
The fruit of the prickly pear is scientifically known as (Opuntia ficus-indica), and it is from the cactus family, whose leaves are wide and flat and green in color.
The color of the prickly pear fruit varies between green, red, violet, and orange-yellow. It is characterized by its oval appearance.
The surface of prickly pear fruits contains a kind of pellets that cause tingling and pain, and they must be removed before eating or using them in food dishes.
What is the homeland of prickly pear cultivation?
Prickly pear cultivation is widespread in desert environments in Mexico, Southwest America, and some regions of the Mediterranean. Mexican dishes are characterized by the presence of prickly pear fruits with eggs, salads, soup dishes, and the preparation of different types of juices and cocktails.
What is the nutritional value of prickly pear fruits?
Prickly pear fruits are a good source of fibre, minerals and vitamins. A cup of prickly pear, which represents 149 grams, contains the following:
- 61 calories.
- grams of protein.
- grams of fat.
- 14 grams of carbohydrates.
- 5 grams of fiber.
- 30% of the magnesium element.
- 23% of vitamin C.
- 7% of potassium element.
- 6% of the elemental calcium.
- It also contains phenolic acids, flavonoids, and pigments that act as antioxidants.
What are the benefits of prickly pear?
The benefits of prickly pears vary because they contain fiber and antioxidants. It enhances the health of the body and protects against many diseases, such as the following:
1- Lose weight
Prickly pear fiber helps in losing weight, in combination with dietary fats, increasing its excretion outside the body, and reducing its absorption in the body.
2- Hair and skin care
Prickly pear fruits make the skin glow and hair shine, as it is added to many cosmetics.
It is used to unify skin tone and remove blemishes because it contains vitamin C as an antioxidant, so it protects the skin from wrinkles, infections and sunburn.
3- Controlling the rate of blood sugar
Studies have shown that eating prickly pear fruits contributes to lowering blood sugar and insulin levels after meals, and improves blood lipid levels.
4- Enhancing the integrity of the liver
Prickly pear fruits treat many liver problems. Prickly pear antioxidants protect against inflammation and oxidative damage that damage the liver.
5- Reducing blood cholesterol
Prickly pear fruits help lower the level of cholesterol in the blood. Prickly pear fibers help remove LDL cholesterol.
Prickly pear reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood plasma and the liver, and the phytosterol compounds found in prickly pear seeds also help convert cholesterol into beneficial compounds for the body.
6- Fighting cancer cells
Prickly pear fruits contain flavonoids that reduce the risk of breast cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and lung cancer.
Flavonoids also help eliminate free radicals and improve the activity of oxidative enzymes.
7- It prevents infectious ulcers
Many mental and physical pressures cause changes in the mucous membrane lining the stomach wall, ulceration and inflammation due to increased secretion of inflammatory factors that destroy the inner stomach wall.
Prickly pear fruits contain betanin, which has a positive effect on the stomach wall. It regulates the secretions of the mucous membrane lining the stomach, and reduces the production of inflammatory factors, which helps reduce stomach ulcers.
8- Promoting colon health
Fiber affects the benefits of prickly pear; It helps flush unhealthy fats and excess bile out of the colon, and also reduces oxidative stress and inflammation.
Antioxidants also help boost the benefits of prickly pear, as they scavenge free radicals and inflammatory factors.
9- Calm the stomach
Prickly pear fruits contribute to regulating bowel movement to enhance the health of the digestive system and prevent constipation. It also strengthens the stomach and contributes to calming it down.
10- Reduces the effects of stopping alcohol
Consuming prickly pear juice reduces the production of inflammatory factors that cause discomfort when you stop drinking alcohol, and also reduces symptoms of dizziness and dry mouth.
11- Boosting body immunity
Vitamin C present in prickly pear fruits enhances the body’s immunity, protects against infection, and acts as an antioxidant in the body.
Promotes the production of white blood cells responsible for killing and eliminating infectious micro-cells inside the body.
12- Protects against heart attacks
The benefits of prickly pear reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood, and adjust blood pressure levels. It protects against heart disease such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
Antioxidants promote a healthy cardiovascular system, and flavonoids modulate platelet viscosity.
Prickly pear damage
There are many benefits of prickly pear when eaten in appropriate quantities, but excessive consumption causes some damages, which are as follows:
- Consuming too much fiber causes diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, or dizziness.
- Intestinal blockage occurs when eating excessive amounts.
Therefore, care must be taken when eating prickly pear and not to overdo it, to obtain the benefits of prickly pear effectively and to avoid its harms.