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The many benefits of the Prickly Pear

Updated on March 14, 2011


At a first glance, the prickly pear may not seem like having a lot to offer. The plant itself is a member of the Cacti family and it presents with typical large paddle shaped plattyclades featuring two sets of thorns: long needle like thorns and hair like short spines that easily penetrate the skin. Its edible fruits exhibit  their own set of thorns as well, and must be therefore, peeled with care. Once the thick layer or skin and thorns are removed, the remaining fruit is full of seeds that must be swallowed  whole in order to be consumed.

The fruits typically come in three different colors: light green,  bright orange and crimson red. They are very eye appealing fruits that can be found in abundance in the Western and Southwestern  United States and throughout Mexico. The fruits are very refreshing and have several uses. Mexicans in particular, enjoy making candies, jellies, pickles and a drink which they call "Horchata".

As worthless and thorny as this plant may appear, nutritionally the prickey pear can be a goldmine of vitamins and minerals. With seventeen amino acids, high fiber contents, great levels of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and Bioflavoids, adding prickly pears to a healthy diet may seem far from being odd.

-The plant has been known as a great source of fiber, thus being very helpful to the digestive system. It has been proved to work as well as a great colon cleanser.

-Its aminoacides have been associated with the benefit of lowering high cholesterol, cleaning up the arteries  reducing the formation of plaque while over all improving circulation.

-The plant has also benefited in stabilizing the levels of blood glucose in the blood. Type II Diabetics may particularly benefit from lower glucose levels within one hour of consuming the plant's juice.

-Supplements have been made to help athletes over come muscle soreness and get a nice jolt of energy.

-Cases of hangover developed from an excessive alcohol consumption have shown improvement by consuming special products derived from the Prickly pear's fruits and pads.

-The high fiber content along with the ability to reduce lipids have proved that the prickly pear may  be an effective aid when losing weight.

 The prickly peat plant is simply an amazing specimen of survival. It has thrived in areas where other plants would perish. Its ideal climate consists of dry, desert like, arid locations. Yet, this plant which some people may have never heard of, has so much to offer, we humans cannot deny that life wouldn't be the same without this precious specimen.

How to eat prickly pears


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    • lrdl3535 profile image

      Richard Lindsay 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for the article, good information

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      I think you are referring to the guy on the video and not my article. I posted indeed that it does have benefits for diabetics as it stabilizes glucose levels. I have Sicilian blood running in my family so I have eaten prickly pears your way. I think the guy does it "the American way" I will look at the video again and disable it if he makes so many wrong statements.

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      Tino 5 years ago

      Firstly!! that's not the way to clean the fruit, not at all. You "fork" the fruit in the middle to stabilize it and with a knife you remove the two extreme ends of the fruit then you slice the skin only from end to end and the entire inside of the fruit seeds and all is exposed and ready to eat. No cutting of thorns, no water waste, just lovely fruit with seeds which by the way are extremely good for you for multiple reasons. Then you mentioned that the fruit has diabetis in fact the fruit contains many anti-diabetics. You wish to instruct? do it properly dood, no offence meant!!!

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      arslan usmani 6 years ago

      God gift prickly pear

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      Karim 6 years ago

      How much water does that dude waste "washing" the pears?!