Is prickly pear healthy? – An overview of the most important information!
From physalis to lychee to persimmon – the exotic fruits have become increasingly popular in recent years. They not only convince us with an excellent taste, but are also full of valuable fiber and vitamins. The prickly pear is considered a real superfood and according to studies is said to help against a number of diseases and ailments. In our article we will tell you how to prepare the fruit the easiest and whether the prickly pear is healthy!
The prickly pear is the fruit of Opuntia cactus Opuntia ficus-indica from the cactus family and can grow up to 6 meters high. The fruit originally comes from Mexico, but is now grown almost everywhere in the world. In Europe, the prickly pear is still known under the names prickly pear, Indian fig, thistle fig, prickly pear or nopal. An interesting fact is that it is botanically a berry. The fruits are oval and can be found in different colors depending on the variety and ripeness – from white to yellow, orange, green to brown and purple.
Is the prickly pear healthy? – Overview of nutritional values
The prickly pear is very rich in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. It also contains many important minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. In relation to organic compounds, the cactus fruit has a high proportion of polyphenols, flavonoids and betalaines, all of which have a positive effect on our health. According to many scientific studies, the daily consumption of the exotic fruit can be beneficial in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal complaints and high cholesterol. While the fruit offers a number of impressive benefits, the prickly pear also speaks for itself.
100 grams of prickly pear contain:
- 36 calories
- 7.1 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.4 grams of fat
- 1 gram of protein
- 5 grams of fiber
The following vitamins and minerals are in 100 grams of prickly pears:
- Potassium – 90 mg
- Calcium – 28 mg
- Magnesium – 85 mg
- Phosphorus – 27 mg
- Zinc – 25 mg
- Vitamin C – 25 mg
- Folic acid – 8 μg
- Vitamin E – 0.5 mg
Tips for eating, storing and preparing prickly pear
In terms of taste, the prickly pear actually reminds of the well-known figs, but is a lot more flavor-intensive. The best time to buy fresh and delicious prickly pears is in summer and autumn. When buying, you should make sure that the bowl has no injuries and stains in the upper area. Since the unripe fruits no longer ripen, you should rather use prickly pears that are already soft. At room temperature, the fruit stays fresh for about 2 days and a little longer in the fridge. Even if the prickly pears available on the market are already freed from the thorns, we recommend that you be careful and handle the fruit with gloves. You can either spoon the cactus pear out like a kiwi or cut it into small pieces and enjoy it as a fruit salad.
Prickly pear effect on health
Over 9000 years ago, the Mexicans and the Aztecs discovered that the prickly pear is healthy and has benefited from its countless effects. When used externally, prickly pear juice helps alleviate inflammation and injuries. Nowadays, the prickly pear is used to prevent and treat many other ailments and diseases.
- Strengthens the immune system – The prickly pear is full of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that strengthen the immune system and help detoxify the body. The high content of vitamins C and E plays a particularly important role here. An adult and healthy person needs about 100 mg of vitamin C per day and 100 grams of the fruit already cover 1/3 of the total daily requirement. In addition, the vitamin is an important component of various metabolic and enzymatic processes, including the building of muscle and bone tissue.
- Prickly pear healthy for our bones and teeth – The tropical fruit contains a high proportion of calcium, amino acids and minerals, which are particularly important for healthy bones and teeth. Older people and women in particular should make sure that they meet their daily needs. One serving of prickly pear contains 83 mg calcium.
- The fruit stimulates digestion – Just like most types of fruit and vegetables, prickly pears are rich in fiber and minerals. The vitamins of the B group contained therein promote digestion and help with constipation, flatulence or gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach ulcers. They protect against the toxins contained in alcohol or in some foods.
- The prickly pear for cancer – According to recent scientific studies, daily consumption of prickly pear could have a positive effect on the treatment of colon or prostate cancer. The fruit contains many soluble and insoluble fiber, which absorb the water. This in turn means that the food is better transported through the digestive tract.
- Regulates cholesterol levels – If the cholesterol level is too high, a stroke or heart attack can sometimes occur. Due to the high content of vitamin B3, fiber and amino acids, the fruit helps regulate cholesterol and blood sugar. It also helps to remove the harmful bile juices, which can also turn into cholesterol.
- Against high blood pressure – The prickly pears contain a lot of potassium – a mineral that can help especially with high blood pressure.
- Prickly pear healthy for type 2 diabetes – People suffering from diabetes in particular can benefit from the effects of the fruit. The amino acids it contains strengthen the pancreas and liver and reduce glucose levels.
- It's a natural antioxidant – The antioxidants in the prickly pears reduce the risk of premature skin aging, improve eyesight and stimulate brain functions. Studies carried out in Germany have found a high content of tocopherol and beta-carotene, which are very important for eye health.
- Helps with depression and anxiety – It has been scientifically proven that the daily consumption of prickly pears has a relaxing and calming effect and protects the nervous system. This in turn can help with depression and mood swings.
- Prickly pears are anti-inflammatory and antibacterial – The pulp of the prickly pear has been used for many years to reduce inflammation, injuries or insect bites.
- Regular consumption of the cactus fruit helps Migraine symptoms.
- Prickly pear in hangover? – Yes, the miracle cure can do that too! To prevent a hangover, it is recommended to eat 1 prickly pear before drinking.
- Relieves premenstrual syndrome – Stomach cramps, back pain, and headaches are the most common symptoms that occur in women during PMS. An increased level of prostaglandin is responsible for this. Eating prickly pears inhibits the synthesis of prostaglandins in the body and relieves premenstrual symptoms.
Prickly pear for weight loss
Delicious, low in calories and very high in fiber – the prickly pear can be wonderfully integrated into a healthy diet for weight loss. The fiber has a satiating effect and prevents hunger attacks and binge eating. In addition, the fruit is very rich in branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAA, which play a very important role in muscle building and fat loss. It provides 53 mg of arginine per 100 grams – an amino acid that strengthens the immune system and stimulates fat burning.
The tropical fruit ensures strong and healthy hair
The prickly pears not only help with a whole range of diseases and ailments – they also ensure shiny and strong hair. The high proportion of antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties reduce hair loss and stimulate hair growth. Below we have a simple recipe for homemade prickly pear hair conditioner.
You will need:
- 2 large prickly pears
- 1/2 cucumber
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- Carefully peel the prickly pear and cut the pulp into small pieces.
- Chop the cucumber and add it.
- Put all ingredients in a blender and mash finely.
- Apply the mixture to wet hair and leave for about 20 minutes.
- Rinse off with warm water.
Prickly pear seed oil for beautiful skin and hair
The prickly pear seed oil is obtained from the seeds of the prickly pear and since the production is very complex, it is one of the most expensive and highest quality oils in the world. It contains a lot of magnesium, vitamins C and E and unsaturated fatty acids, which ensure firm and healthy skin. It protects the skin from free radicals, prevents the formation of dark circles and is mainly used as an anti-aging agent. Age or pigment spots also fade due to regular use and the results are immediately noticeable after a few weeks.
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