Prickly pear is an edible cactus rich in fibres, amino acids, nutrients, vitamins and minerals including high levels of vitamin C, B-family vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin and dietary fibre. It also has high levels of flavonoids, polysaccharides, phytochemicals, polyphenols, and betalains. It is used in salads, vegetable dishes, desserts and appetizers, bread, beverages, drinks, jelly and even candy. Prickly pear is more recognized for its health benefits and medical uses especially as a weight loss aid due to its high fibre content. However, prickly pear has many numerous health benefits that include the following:
Prickly pear is enriched in vitamin C. A single serving of prickly pears contains more than 1/3 of the entire daily recommended vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a key role in stimulating the production of white blood cells, thus boosting the immune system and acting as an antioxidant in the body. Equally, vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid is an important component of various enzymatic and metabolic processes, including the fortification of bone and muscle tissue. Prickly pear supports the immune system by combating infections in cases of herpes simplex, influenza virus, equine herpesvirus and even HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
Blood Sugar Levels
Prickly pear extracts have been found to reduce blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes can take prickly pear alongside regular drugs in order to regulate their blood glucose levels. It’s crucial to seek proper medical consultation before adding prickly pear to your diet.
Helps Digestion and Relieves Stomach Problems
Prickly pear has a high dietary fibre content and as such, helps with digestion problems including diarrhoea, constipation and cramps related to digestion troubles. Fibre works by bulking up stool and help food pass easily through the digestive tract, eliminating constipation, bloating, and serious gastrointestinal issues like colon cancer or gastric ulcers.
Protects Nerve Cells
Currently, there’s researched being carried out using prickly pear in order to gain more knowledge about its neuroprotective benefits. However, there’s some evidence to prove that prickly pear protects nerve cells against damage and may reduce nerve inflammation. Some people have reported to recover from sensory loss or reduce pain related to nerve inflammation.
Reduces Fatigue and Boosts Energy Levels
Prickly pears are generally sweet and delicious and when they are added to drinks and beverages, give a refreshing feeling and are a great source of energy.
Reduces Cholesterol and Supports Liver Function
Due to the high nutritional value of prickly pears, they have been found to lower blood cholesterol levels. They work by reducing high levels of cholesterol in the blood without affecting the absorption of cholesterol from food. Thus, it can help you reduce bad cholesterol and aids in weight loss.
Aids Weight Loss and Reduce Cellulite
Prickly Pear supports weight loss regulating enzyme function, promote healthy muscle gain, manage hormonal balance and tone the entire body. It also helps suppress appetite and cravings for sugary and generally unhealthy food. And one of most amazing prickly pear benefits is that it can help flush excess fluids from tissues into your bloodstream, thus preventing bloating. Prickly pear helps you lose weight and can even help reduce cellulite.
Because of all its amazing weight loss benefits, prickly pear has become a core component in weight loss supplements and formulas.
Strengthens Bones & Teeth
Prickly pear contains a significant amount of calcium. Calcium is vital in ensuring bone tissue and teeth health. Make sure you have enough calcium in your system in order to prevent various dental issues, as well as age-related bone disorders like osteoporosis.
Protects Heart Health
Prickly pears are very good for heart health. They have high levels of fibre that help lower the levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. In addition, they contain substantial levels of potassium aid in lowering blood pressure, by relaxing the blood vessels and reducing stress on the cardiovascular system. Finally, the betalains found in prickly pear, have been directly connected to strengthening the endothelial walls of blood vessels, thereby reducing the chances of weakening the circulatory system. In general, prickly pear prevents atherosclerosis, coronary heart diseases, and stroke.
Prickly pears have significant levels of flavonoids, polyphenols, and betalains. These act as antioxidant compounds and neutralize free radicals before they cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. These antioxidants do more than preventing cancer; they also nourish the skin, lower the chances of premature ageing, improve vision, prevent macular degeneration, and increase the strength and functionality of your brain. Free radicals are partially responsible for the oxidation of neural cells that lead to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Polyphenolic compounds have been linked to increased cognitive activity.
Prickly pear can be topically applied to parts of the body that are inflamed to reduce inflammation. Also, when consumed, the antioxidants and minerals in prickly pears can lower inflammation, particularly in conditions like arthritis, gout, or muscle strain.