Cactus Fruit Health Benefits
Cactus Fruit Health Benefits
The cactus fruit, also known as the prickly pear, nopal, Indian fig or tuna, is an edible part of the cactus plant. Just like the cactus plant, the fruit has spines which have to be removed before the fruit can be eaten. If not properly removed, these spines may cause irritation to the tongue, lips and throat. This fruit is eaten raw and used as an ingredient in a number of dishes, especially in Mexico. It is used as an ingredient in salads, soups and stews.
Cactus fruit health benefits are numerous and this is why it is now widely commercially cultivated in several parts of the world. This fruit original came from the western hemisphere but is grown widely in Mexico, Italy, the South of France and there is many wild species in the U.S.
Some of the cactus fruit health benefits are derived from the fact that this fruit contains several vitamins and minerals essential for health. The cactus fruit contains vitamin C, calcium and potassium. Vitamin C is a useful antioxidant that is often linked to helping the body fight infections such as colds and flu. Calcium is important for strong healthy bones.
Cactus fruit health benefits also come from the polyphenolic compounds found in the fruits. Polyphenols are a class of antioxidants. The polyphenols found in the cactus fruit include betacyanins, betalains, rutin and isorhamnetin. These compounds not only fight oxidative stress but also fight pro-inflammatory substances in the body.
Another one of the very important cactus fruit health benefits is that this fruit has been shown to increase HDL (high density lipoprotein) levels. HDL is good cholesterol. Because of this effect, cactus fruits have been linked with decreasing levels of LDL (low density lipoprotein) bad cholesterol which may reduces chances of coronary heart disease. A major cause of coronary heart disease is bad cholesterol clogging the heart’s arteries.
Cactus fruit health benefits also come from the fact that cactus is low in sodium, low in calories and is a good source of fiber. High sodium has been linked to increase in the risk of kidney disease, heart disease and stroke. Because it is low in calories, it is a good addition to people who are on a calorie restricted diet. Fiber is essential for a healthy digestive system. Fiber is also linked in reducing cholesterol levels as well as helping with regulating blood sugar levels.
The cactus fruit has also been linked with being beneficial in type II diabetes because it is thought to reduce the concentration of glucose in the blood.
There are also some suggestions that cactus fruit health benefits include helping in treating an enlarged prostate, preventing diarrhea, fighting weight gain and being useful in virus infections.
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