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Sabras Cactus Fruit

Updated on February 23, 2013

Edible Cactus Fruit Has Health Benefits

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What are Sabras Fruit?

Sabras Cactus Fruit are commonly known as Prickly Pear, Cactus Pear, Tuna, Indian Figs, Barbary Figs and Nepal Cactus throughout the world. But where did the name Sabras originate from?

The word Sabra originated in Israel and is the word for a native Israeli. In Hebrew it is called tzabar.

So how are native Israeli’s and Cactus Fruit related?

Both are said to be resilient and tough with a thick thorny skin but have a soft and sweet centre inside.

Sabras Cactus Fruit is big business in Israel and grown throughout the country for commercial reasons. Throughout the landscape of the Israeli hills, the Sabras Cacti appear to be planted as natural land divisions and barriers, looking as if they have always belonged to the natural landscape.

How to Prepare Sabras Cactus Fruit

The Prickly Pear Fruit

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Sabras . . . Known as Prickly Pear

They were in fact brought over from the dry arid areas of Arizona and New Mexico in the 19th Century and planted.

If you are in Israel during the months of July and August you will see the Sabras Fruit for sale all along roads and in markets. The ripening of the fruit may happen quickly within a two week period but due to the arid dry conditions of much of Israel, Prickly Pear may be harvested 10 months of the year.

Prickly Pear Cactus has been an extremely popular fruit in Central and South America, Mexico and Canada for thousands of year.

The Fruit can vary in colouring from green to dark reddish – purple skins and from light yellow to green to golden flesh. The flesh of the fruit should be soft, spongy and have a scattering of black seeds.

Up Close And Personal With Sabras Cactus Fruit

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Prickly Pear Fruit in The Market

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Facts about Prickly Pear

A member of the Opunita genus in the Cactus family, the Prickly Pear is very distinguishable with their flat fleshy paddle like leaves which are in fact not leaves but flattened stems.


The stems have three main functions, namely photosynthesis, flower production and water storage.


The majority of Prickly Pear will have purple, yellow or red flowers which will bloom annually.


A unique feature about the Pear Cactus is that it has two edible parts.

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The Pads (called Nopal) or stems may be cooked and eaten as a vegetable and the pear is the fruit which may be chilled and eaten like you would eat a melon or may be used in a variety of recipes.

Color and Texture of Cactus Fruit

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Health Benefits

The Prickly Pear Cactus has been growing in both popularity and as a major super food with many health benefits.

The Cactus Pads

The pads of the Cactus are a rich source of essential minerals and vitamins, including – vitamin A (beta carotene), vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium.

They contain amino acids which are a vital building block of the body. Amino acids are needed to build antibodies to fight off bacteria and viruses, carry oxygen throughout the body, build cells, repair tissue and build nucleoproteins (RNA and DNA). What makes the pads extra special is the fact they contain the 8 essential amino acids that cannot be manufactured by the body.

The thick gluey substance found in the pads contains polysaccharides (carbohydrates) which stimulate the Immune System.

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The Prickly Pear

It is the only known plant that contains 24 of the known Betalains which are anti-inflammatory agents that give Beets (Beetroot) their strong pigment and are responsible for the yellow, red and purplish colours of the fruit.

The juice of the fruit is a power house in fighting chronic inflammation.

Reasearch has shown the Prickly Pear has lowered the glucose levels of type 2 Diabetes.

Prickly Pear Flower

Prickly pear cacti, classified in the subgenus Opuntia, typically grow with flat, rounded segments that are armed with two kinds of spines; large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike spines called glochids that easily penetrate skin
Prickly pear cacti, classified in the subgenus Opuntia, typically grow with flat, rounded segments that are armed with two kinds of spines; large, smooth, fixed spines and small, hairlike spines called glochids that easily penetrate skin | Source

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