Opuntia ficus indica, commonly known as prickly pear or Indian fig opuntia or cactus pear, is a species of cactus native to Mexico but that can be found in the Mediterranean basin and in the temperate zone in America, Oceania, Asia and Africa. Here we speak about the fruit of prickly pear, that can be red or orange, covered with spines and with a pulp rich in water, sugars, antioxidants such as beta carotene and lutein, vitamins, such as A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and mineral salts, such as potassium, phosphorus, iron, calcium, coppers and magnesium. These fruits are a low calorie food, about 55 kcal for 100 g, contain fibers, important in order to counteract constipation and to improve the intestinal functionalities, and result also satiating. Moreover, prickly pears are refreshing, have a detox action by helping remove toxins in the body and are also helpful to counteract water retention, have diuretic properties and play an essential role against the free radicals and the aging processes. According to a study published in 1990 in the scientific journal The journal of nutrition by a team of researchers of the University of Arizona the contained fibers are useful to lower the LDL cholesterol levels in blood. For what concerns the consumption, the advice is to limit it if you suffer from diverticulitis of colitis because the seeds, that are largely present in the pulp of the fruit, can cause inflammations. Finally, another information, it is possible to use also the cladodes, the succulent stems that in Mexico can be served as a juice or grilled and are used in order to counteract diabetes type 2. A study of 2003 reported on the Proceedings of the Western Pharmacology Society by a team of Mexican researchers has demonstrated indeed the hypoglycemic action of the cladodes. Pay attention if you suffer from diabetes and are taking medicines because a sudden drop down in blood glucose can happen, ask always your doctor for advice in order to avoid possible interactions or bad absorption if you taking medicines. The juice of the cladodes can be applied also externally on wounds, burns or sunburns thanks to its healing, soothing and cicatrizing action.
Vitamins and mineral salts, antioxidant action against free radicals, able to protect skin and make it elastic, control of cholesterol level and, for what concerns the gel extracted from the cladodes, it has an hypoglycemic action, detox power, against constipation and water retention, satiating power.