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Prickly pears are such a surprise!

WHILE prickly pears are new to American cuisine, this ingredient isn’t anything new to Mexico and Central America, where it is a staple food.

The prickly pear (opuntia ficus-indica) grows in hot, arid areas, and, although it’s covered in spikes, it’s completely edible. There are three parts to a prickly pear cactus.

Nopales: these are the cactus pads, and are another common name for prickly pear. They can be scrambled into eggs, tossed with pasta, and generally eaten as a vegetable. You might find them a little bit slimy, so preparation is key!

Flower petals: like most cacti, the prickly pear blooms each year. The flowers are gorgeous and are edible. They can be used as a garnish to meat dishes, or added to salads for colour.

Prickly pear fruit: the pear itself is the fruit of the cacti, and it’s completely edible, but only after you remove the outer peel, which contains small spines that can cause discomfort.

Health benefits

In addition to its watermelon-like flavour, the health benefits make this cactus fruit worth eating. They’re a good source of nutritional values like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Weight loss

Because the prickly pear is high in fibre and low in calories, it makes a great addition to your weight-loss plan. The fibre will fill you up and keep you from overeating, or snacking later on in the day. Consuming a high-fibre diet is a great way to lose some weight, and it’s also a key component in preventing obesity.

Disease prevention

The prickly pear is rich with polyphenols, flavonoids and betalains, all of which are antioxidant compounds that work hard to neutralise free radicals. This means your healthy cells are less likely to mutate into cancerous cells, therefore preventing the onset of cancer.

The antioxidants can also work hard to prevent heart disease, prevent degeneration in the eyes and reduce the risk of cataracts, and prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Immunity booster

One serving of prickly pear will get you a third of the way to your daily requirements of vitamin C. This vitamin is a major component to immune health, and producing and stimulating white blood cells.

Heart health

All that fibre also helps protect your heart. That will lower your risk of high cholesterol, which increases your chances of developing heart disease, which leads to heart attacks and strokes. The potassium in prickly pears also reduces high blood pressure, dilating your blood vessels and reducing the strain on your system.

 

 

Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=50731

Posted by on Nov 15 2019. Filed under Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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