Until this year, the cactus plant was relegated in our minds to barren deserts and cartoon comedies, but new research has helped to draw attention to cacti as something much more. In fact, the cactus plant is now being labeled as a superfood. Curious? Here are the surprising benefits of a widely ignored plant!
Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Control
Prickly pear cactus is gaining fame as an important hypoglycemic agent, meaning it can lower blood sugar levels. The pectin and fiber found in the prickly pear cactus reduce the amount of sugar absorbed into the stomach and intestines, thus decreasing blood sugar and protecting the liver from oxidation.
The pectin and fiber are also believed to lower cholesterol levels and improve “good” cholesterol levels. This in turn lowers the chances of heart disease or heart attack.
There aren’t many hangover cures that don’t make you nauseous all over again, but the numerous nutrients, antioxidants, and carotenoids found in the cactus plant can reduce inflammation in the body. These antioxidants not only speed up the hangover process, but they are also vital to protect your lymph system and inner blood vessel linings. In addition, antioxidants are widely celebrated for their ability to fight free radicals and keep the body healthy and immune system working on all cylinders.
How Should You Eat This Superfood?
You can’t exactly bite into a cactus like it’s an apple, but you can indeed eat a cactus raw by cutting spines off its pads and sauteeing the pads with any adjoining dish like eggs or other vegetables. Prickly pear cactus is the fruit of the nopal cactus and it actually tastes like the child of a watermelon and bubblegum. You wouldn’t expect a cactus to offer so much flavor, but it’s really delicious!