The many benefits of the Prickly Pear
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.