Prickly pear, also known as Opuntia ficus-indica, are a type of fruit that develops on the leaves of Nopales cactus. Nagfani is the name for it in Hindi; Nagajemudu is the name for it in Telugu; Kallimullpazham is the name for it in Malayalam; and in Gujarati, it is known as Dindla. Newer plant growth is typically consumed as part of the Mexican diet. In addition to the fruit, the prickly pear cactus's other edible parts include its flowers, stems, and leaves.
There are many uses for prickly pear, including curing hangovers and promoting weight loss. This cactus fruit is sweet and nutritious. Many people steer clear of it because to its scary appearance, yet it actually has beneficial effects on your health as a whole.
What is prickly pear?
Prickly pear, also known as cactus pear, tuna, nopal, nopales, barberry figs, and Indian figs, has many distinct common names around the world. Prickly pears are edible fruits with a strong, ribbed exterior and softer, pulpy interior. In most plants, it starts out green and changes to a reddish pink as it ages. Raw, steamed, or grilled preparations are all valid. To add to its versatility, it may be used to create delicious jams and juices. From the tips of thorny cactus leaves grow these delectable oval fruits that can be any colour from deep red-green to yellow or purple. It smells and tastes like a cucumber, but has a flavour reminiscent of watermelon or raspberries.
Nutritional value of prickly pear:
Prickly pear is a rich source of several minerals, including magnesium, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins C and B, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, and potassium. Just one cup of this fruit provides a significant portion of the recommended daily requirement for numerous vitamins and minerals.
Health benefits of prickly pear:
1. Increases Immunity
Consumption of prickly pear fruit, which is rich in vitamins C and E, has been associated with improved detoxification and antioxidant performance. The vitamin C content of only one serving of prickly pears is enough to provide more than a third of the average person's daily needs. Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, helps the body fight off infections by strengthening the immune system and encouraging the creation of white blood cells. Vitamin C also plays a role in the development of bone and muscle, among other metabolic and enzymatic activities.
2. Improves Bone Density and Dental Health
Prickly pears have a high calcium content, which is essential for healthy bone development. Inadequate calcium intake has been linked to tooth decay, osteoporosis, and other bone diseases associated with ageing.
3. Helps in digestion
Like other fibrous produce like fruits and vegetables, prickly pears aid in digestion thanks to their high fibre content. Constipation, bloating, and more serious gastrointestinal problems including colon cancer and gastric ulcer can all be prevented by increasing your fibre intake.
4. Prevents heart diseases
Prickly pears are great for your heart because of several beneficial nutrients. First, the fruit's high fibre content has been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Second, the high potassium content has been shown to reduce blood pressure by relieving strain on the heart and blood vessels. Finally, the betalains in prickly pear have been linked to a reduction in the risk of weakening of the circulatory system by strengthening the endothelial walls of blood vessels. Generally speaking, the cactus fruit can protect against atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
5. Prevents Cancer
There are many beneficial compounds, including betalains, polyphenols, and flavonoids, in prickly pears. These molecules prevent normal cells from mutating into malignant ones by acting as antioxidants. People who consume these antioxidants on a daily basis have been found to have a reduced risk of developing cancer.
6. Rich in Antioxidant
Prickly pears are rich in antioxidants, which preserve the skin, delay the onset of ageing, sharpen vision, ward off macular degeneration, and fortify and improve brain function, among other benefits. Dementia and Alzheimer's disease are caused, in part, by free radicals oxidising brain cells. Researchers have found a correlation between polyphenolic chemicals and improved brain function.
7. Promotes weight loss
Prickly pears can help you maintain a healthy weight because they are rich in fibre and nutrients yet low in calories and saturated fat. The carbs and fibre help you feel full without eating too much.
How to prepare prickly pear?
Put on some gloves and cut off the top and bottom, which are normally the roughest parts, to prepare. Then, remove the skin off the fruit by running the knife vertically through it. The soft fruit can be eaten in a variety of ways once you get your hands on it.
Prickly pear recipes:
- Prickly pear can be added to an orange salad as cubes.
- Turn cactus fruit into a jam or jelly.
- Prickly pear, sugar, lemon juice, and water make a refreshing sorbet.
- You can also make a smoothie from prickly pear.