What is Prickly Pear- Nutrition Facts and Benefits

Published On: Oct 18, 2021

Prickly pear is a member of the Cactus family. Studded with flat and wide green paddles called nopales, this one makes for an edible source spangled in a number of health benefits. Here, you will read what is Prickly Pear. On top of that, this section will take you through the health benefits of Prickly Pear and what a wonderful addition it is to gloat over. 

What is Prickly Pear?

Prickly pear is one of the members from the Cactaceae cactus battalion. You may call it Opuntia ficus-indica, scientifically. The Prickly pear cactus is bejewelled with nopales that you can identify with flat, white and green paddles or pads. These nopales are counted for an ingredient in various types of Mexican egg recipes, tacos, salads and soups.

You will find the Prickly pear on the peak of nopales in the small and oval fruit of the demeanour and can refer to it as tuna. This fruit features a range of colors including red, purple and green. The texture in this fruit is significantly slimy which is impacted by the techniques of cooking used. Besides that, they carry a slight crunch and taste fairly citrus and vegetable. This fruit is juicy from within, constituting seeds and sweet taste which can deceive you for the that of a watermelon. You can consume prickly pear flesh cooked or raw and can even emanate juice out of it. It is counted in for making jams and jazzing cocktails. 

Prickly pear

If you look on the outer mein of this fruit, you will find it covered with prickles that are called glochids. Glochids are pretty clingy and you have to take them off the Prickly before heading to its consumption. This fruit is a common name in Mexico and is also found in Italy and other Mediterranean regions. 

Prickly Pear Cactus and Nutrition

Let us now know how Prickly Pear Cactus profiles itself in the nutrition department. While the amount is slightly directed by their varieties, they carry a prowess of fiber and various minerals and vitamins. 

Here is what a Single Cup of Raw Prickly Pear looks like from its Core-

Calories 61
Fat 1 gram
Protein 1 gram
Carbohydrates 14 grams
Fiber 5 grams
Potassium 7% of the Daily Value
Magnesium 30% of the Daily Value 
Calcium 6% of the Daily Value
Vitamin C 23% of the Daily Value

Prickly Pear, with calcium, potassium and magnesium, proves to be a good source for dietary fiber offering around 19% of the daily value in a single cup. It features soluble as well as insoluble fiber and both are quite useful when it comes to digestion. Potassium and magnesium in Prickly Pears are helpful with good blood pressure and the calcium gives a hand in strengthening the immune system. 

Health Benefits of Prickly Pear Cactus- Is Cactus Fruit Your Friend?

Prickly Pear is known for its health benefits in a multitude of ways. From diabetes to weight loss and healthy glowing skin, there have been many theories on this fruit’s existence aiding a healthy lifestyle. 

Let us check out the different health benefits of Prickly Pear- 

Skin and Hair and the Cactus Fruit Benefits

As per what the benefits of Prickly Pear cactus boast, the fruit makes a good ingredient to lodge the glow on your skin and make your hair look shinier than ever. It is composed of nutrients and compounds like betalain pigments and vitamin C that bear antioxidant and anti-inflammatory results. This fruit, in its various forms, is incorporated into various skin care products and hair conditioners. 

Prickly pear also features polyunsaturated fatty acids which are majorly found in the peel and seeds, contributing to skin and hair benefits. The antioxidants in Prickly Pear are believed to be amazing for hair and skin as they render protection against problems such as inflammation, aging and other issues. 

However, there haven’t been any facets of validations in the regard of Prickly Pear’s benefits for hair and skin. Overall, the claims of this fruit being favorable for these two areas have gone untested.

Prickly Pear for Diabetes

One of the probable health benefits of Prickly Pear cactus is known for managing diabetes issues. This fruit contains soluble fiber which makes it beneficial for blood fat level with its capability to lower blood sugar. Few human studies suggest that its consumption can help lower blood sugar as well as insulin levels post-meal. 

However, the verdicts seem notably mixed here. The impact of prickly pear is directed by the form of its consumption and the portion of this plant that has been used. 

Liver health

As the historical window projects, Prickly Pear have been involved in treating liver health issues. The antioxidant compounds in it are known as a shield against oxidative stress and inflammation that are disastrous for the liver. While eating Prickly Pear cactus has been found helpful in reducing oxidative stress and offering protection against fatty liver disease in a study, the Prickly Pear juice is suggested to be helpful in the prevention of liver injuries promoted by the consumption of alcohol in another study. 

Prickly pear

Apart from that, it is also found to be carrying benefits for those who consume alcohol. It has been found in a study that an extract of this cactus plant before alcohol consumption helps eradicate hangovers. But again, there has never been enough research to back such benefits of Prickly Pear cactus for liver health. 

Plant for Food, the Cacti Fruit- Final Thoughts

This typical mexican ingredient can be consumed in guide of fruit salad, smoothie and even bars. All you need to watch out for is their sharp spines that can hurt you if not shed off the fruit. With precautionary care and love, obviously, you can add this nutrition-given cactus plant to your plate of hunger-reliever.