The prickly pear, scientifically known as Opuntia ficus-indica, is a cactus plant that grows in arid Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California. This plant has two edible portions, the tuna or the pear, which is the fruit, and the soft, oval pads or nopal which is the stem.
Cactus juice can be extracted from both the fruit and the nopal. In the case of the nopal, one can simply pull out the spines, clean the pads and remove all its bruised parts, and then crush them to extract the juice. The fruit can be washed under cold water, and the spines can be removed with a brush. Whether handling the fruit or the stem, be very careful as getting pricked by cactus spines can be very painful.
Owing to its numerous health benefits, cactus juice is a staple food of residents of South America, Mexico, Middle East, Europe, and a few parts of India.
Health Benefits Of Cactus Juice
[vs slide=”1″ slide_title=”Anti- Inflammatory Properties”]
1. Anti- Inflammatory Properties
Cactus juice is known to have the ability to fight inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system, muscles, and arteries. 1 It has also been popularly known to lower pain in people with gallstones and urethra and bladder infections. The prickly pear contains a compound called bioflavonoid quercetin, a good amount of which is present in the juice of the cactus plant. This compound is responsible for neutralizing cell-damaging molecules, thus giving cactus juice its antiulcer and anti-inflammatory properties. Hence cactus juice also blocks leukocyte migration and offers protection against oedema.2
[vs slide=”2″ slide_title=”Boosts Immunity”]
2. Boosts Immunity
Consuming cactus juice on a regular basis helps to strengthen the immunity system by removing harmful viruses from the body. The high content of phytochemicals in cactus wards off tumors and increases the body’s immune response.3
[vs slide=”3″ slide_title=”Anti-Oxidant Properties”]
3. Anti-Oxidant Properties
Cactus juice is packed with antioxidants known as betalains. These work together with phytochemicals to encourage healthy cells, assist in skin detoxification and to fight against premature aging signs like age spots and wrinkles.4
[vs slide=”4″ slide_title=”Anti-Oxidant Properties”]
4. Fights Cholesterol
The high content of soluble fiber in cactus juice prevents cholesterol.
[vs slide=”5″ slide_title=”Prevents Diabetes”]
5. Prevents Diabetes
Cactus juice is highly beneficial to people suffering from non-insulin diabetes because it helps to lower and balance blood pressure by preventing the liver from releasing glucose into the blood.6 The presence of the compound fibrous pectin assists in slowing down the absorption rate or sugar by the human
[vs slide=”6″ slide_title=”Digestive Health”]
6. Improves Digestive Health
The insoluble fiber in cactus juice encourages faster bowel movement and the absorption of excess water. The juice contains a good amount of vegetable protein which brings down the occurrence of cellulites as well as the body’s capacity to retain water. The insoluble fiber also enhances colon health as it reduces the presence of carcinogens that may cause cancerous growth.7
[vs slide=”7″ slide_title=”Nutrient Rich”]
7. Rich In Nutrients
Cactus juice is a rich source of vitamins A, K,
[vs slide=”8″ slide_title=”Aids In Weight Loss”]
8. Aids In Weight Loss
Cactus juice is considered to be very low in calories because of the high content of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. The juice is known to contain 17 amino acids, out of which 8 are essential. The insoluble fiber also limits hunger pangs since it takes a longer time to digest, in turn making you feel full and satisfied. Cactus juice is high in fiber which binds itself to dietary fat and promotes fecal fat excretion, thus
[vs slide=”9″ slide_title=”Anti-Cancer Properties”]
9. Potent Anti-Cancer Properties
The high content of phytochemicals, flavonoids, vitamin-C, and other antioxidants found in cactus juice makes it extremely valuable for the immune system, especially when it comes to preventing the occurrence of various cancers. Antioxidants are responsible for hunting down free radicals in the body and getting rid of them before they mutate the DNA of healthy cells into harmful cancerous cells.10 Free radicals are bad byproducts of cellular metabolism that after accumulating in the body, cause numerous health problems, including cancer. Also, vitamin A and flavonoids in cactus juice have been connected to preventing skin, lung, and oral cancers.
[vs slide=”10″ slide_title=”Neuroprotective Properties”]
10. Neuroprotective Properties
Cactus juice contains quercetin 3-methyl, a flavonoid that is said to be a powerful neuro protector which protects brain cells from damage.11
Due to its ability to regulate and affect blood sugar levels, drinking too much cactus juice can drastically bring down the level of glucose in the blood, thus leading to hypoglycemia. Also, cactus juice should never be consumed in excess before an operation, since it makes it excessively difficult to control glucose and blood nutrient levels.
When consumed in regular, controlled amounts, cactus juice can be a healthy, delicious way to lose those extra pounds and to give your body the nutrients it needs!
|↑1, ↑4, ↑5||Madrigal-Santillán, Eduardo, Fernando García-Melo, José A. Morales-González, Patricia Vázquez-Alvarado, Sergio Muñoz-Juárez, Clara Zuñiga-Pérez, Maria Teresa Sumaya-Martínez, Eduardo Madrigal-Bujaidar, and Alejandra Hernández-Ceruelos. “Antioxidant and anticlastogenic capacity of prickly pear juice.” Nutrients 5, no. 10 (2013): 4145-4158.|
|↑2, ↑8||Shetty, Anoop A., M. K. Rana, and S. P. Preetham. “Cactus: a medicinal food.” Journal of food science and technology 49, no. 5 (2012): 530-536.|
|↑3||Chen. Jau-Fei. Nutrition • Immunology • Longevity. Nutritional Immunology; 1st edition (2015)|
|↑6||El-Razek, Fatma H. Abd, Eman M. El-Metwally, Gaber MG Shehab, Amal A. Hassan, and Anhar M. Gomaa. “Effects of cactus pear (Opuntia ficus indica) juice on oxidative stress in diabetic cataract rats.” Saudi Journal for Health Sciences 1, no. 1 (2012): 23.|
|↑7, ↑9||Uebelhack, Ralf, Regina Busch, Felix Alt, Zhi-Ming Beah, and Pee-Win Chong. “Effects of cactus fiber on the excretion of dietary fat in healthy subjects: a double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover clinical investigation.” Current Therapeutic Research 76 (2014): 39-44.|
|↑10||Zou, Da-ming, Molly Brewer, Francisco Garcia, Jean M. Feugang, Jian Wang, Roungyu Zang, Huaguang Liu, and Changping Zou.
|↑11||Dok-Go, Hyang, Kwang Heun Lee, Hyoung Ja Kim, Eun Ha Lee, Jiyong Lee, Yun Seon Song, Yong-Ha Lee, Changbae Jin, Yong Sup Lee, and Jungsook Cho. “Neuroprotective effects of antioxidative flavonoids, quercetin,(+)-dihydroquercetin and quercetin 3-methyl ether, isolated from Opuntia ficus-indica var. saboten.” Brain research 965, no. 1 (2003): 130-136.|