Getting to Know the Prickly Pear Cactus
You’ve probably seen the Prickly Pear cactus before, and you may have even heard about the fruit of that cactus being used as a food or drink, but it’s time to get to know just how powerful the Prickly Pear fruit can be. The vitamins and minerals contained in this little powerhouse have benefits for hydration, hair and skin, muscle recovery and bone growth, and the antioxidant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits of Prickly Pear are pretty extraordinary.
There are over 200 species of Nopales cacti which grow throughout North and South America, all of which bear some kind of fruit. Not all of these fruits are edible, but one species in particular, the Indian Fig Opuntia, is most commonly used for cooking and eating. The flowers of the cactus start to bloom in early may in the Northern hemisphere, and the fruits ripen from August through October. Once the fruits are picked and processed, the magic of the Prickly Pear begins!
Prickly Pear and Vitamin C
Did you know that a single serving of prickly pear contains more than 1/3 of your entire daily requirement of vitamin C? Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C plays a major role in boosting the immune system, stimulating the production of white blood cells, and acting as an antioxidant in the body. Furthermore, vitamin C is an important component of various enzymatic and metabolic processes, including the creation of bone and muscle tissue. Vitamin C can also help wounds recover faster by reducing inflammation and stimulating collagen production. Collagen is an essential protein that aids wound repair (vitamin C, which is necessary to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin firm and strong.)
Prickly Pear cactus juice inhibits leukocyte migration, which acts as a catalyst in the development of inflammatory diseases. It contains Vitamin A, B2 and C, which are considered very beneficial for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of cactus juice help in relieving the pain and fight inflammation. It also eases the stiffness and soreness accompanying arthritis. (source)
Prickly Pear, the Fixer
Prickly Pear is an excellent source of antioxidants. The juice contains a rare form of antioxidant, known as betalain. Betalain flushes out the free radicals present in the body, giving you a new lease of health. Thus, regular consumption of Prickly Pear juice may reduce the risk of degenerative and age related diseases. (source)
A shot Prickly Pear juice can help to prevent and lower the effects of hangovers. A research study conducted on the same indicated that people who drank cactus juice prior to consuming alcohol had 50% lower chances of experiencing hangover. The juice significantly reduces the symptoms of hangover, which include nausea, dry mouth and loss of appetite.
The Prickly Pear fruit has electrolytes and a little sugar, so it will replenish your fluids, and the hydration will keep you going. Prickly Pear fruit also contains the amino acid taurine, which can help repair muscle tissue damage that occurs during exercise. Like almost anything with electrolytes, Lauro Sparkling Cactus Water can aid during workouts, hangovers, or illnesses such as stomach bugs or common colds to keep you hydrated.
Prickly Pear Cactus is often touted for its hypoglycemic activity. This means that the ingestion of this fruit or its extract can lower high blood glucose levels as well as maintain normal levels. Prickly pear can be a good addition to all your favorite fruit-based dishes, since it has been linked to antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticlastogenic abilities. (source)
Prickly pear is high in fiber, rich in antioxidants, carotenoids and essential fatty acids, and contains minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium. With so much good stuff packed into one little fruit, the question is simple…What’s NOT to love about the fruit of the Prickly Pear??
Prickly Pear is Even Better with Friends
Now that we know the benefits of Prickly Pear fruits, what can Prickly Pear be paired with to make it taste even better than it already tastes? Another handful of goodness, KEY LIMES! Key Limes are not just miniature versions of regular limes (which are called Persian limes). Key limes contain higher acidity, are seedier than regular limes, and container a stronger aroma, a thinner rind, and different flavor compared to regular limes. Key Limes are also an excellent source of vitamin C. As are all citrus fruits! One Key Lime fruit contains 14% of the daily vitamin C requirement. vitamin C could help wounds recover faster by reducing inflammation and stimulating collagen production. Because limes are loaded with nutrients, they may help boost your immunity, reduce heart disease risk factors, prevent kidney stones, aid iron absorption, and promote healthy skin. Limes are high in active compounds that function as antioxidants in your body, including flavonoids, limonoids, kaempferol, quercetin, and ascorbic acid. Besides vitamin C, limes are also a great source of antioxidants, which help strengthen your immune system by defending cells against free radical damage. (source)
Another powerful partner to Prickly Pear fruit is Organic Blue Agave Nectar. The Blue Agave is actually a succulent, similar to Aloe Vera, and grows throughout Mexico. After growing for 5 to 7 years, a mature blue agave plant stands 6 to 8 feet tall and its “sugar” is at its peak. The blue agave’s treasure, the nectar, is held in the piña or core of the plant. It is called a piña because it resembles a pineapple after the leaves have been trimmed away. Wax in the blue agave’s long leaves gives the species its bluish color.
Blue Agave contains saponins and fructans. Saponins are found on quinoa and many other plant roots, that have anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties. Fructan is a fiber that has many health benefits, including being effective in weight loss efforts. It has a low impact on blood sugar and helps to increase satiety and decrease appetite. If you happen to be diabetic and monitor your food exchanges, one-teaspoon serving of agave nectar equals a “free food.” Two teaspoons equals a 1/2 carbohydrate exchange and so on…
In Aztec times, the agave plant syrup was also used to treat wounds because of its anti-microbial attributes.
All together, you get a power packed group of vitamins like Vitamins A, B2 and C, minerals like Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium, natural electrolyte hydration, immune support and so much more. When you try the group together, you’re sure to want more and more!