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31 Top Benefits Of Prickly Pear (Nagfani) For Skin, Hair & Health stylecraze.com Oct 18, 2017 12:00 PM ￼ A fruit belonging to the cactus family that possesses a wide range of benefits. That’s what the prickly pear is. Do not be intimidated by its look as the fruit pulp is delicious, more than you’d expect it to be. It is often regarded as an excellent cure for a hangover. Let us look at this fruit in detail to know more about benefits of prickly pear, its nutrition profile and also simple ways to include it in your diet. Let’s get started! Table Of Contents What Is Prickly Pear? Prickly pear is a fruit that grows on the leaves of the Nopales cacti, belong to the genus Opuntia, it’s scientific name is Opuntia ficus-indica. It is also referred to as Nagfani in Hindi, Nagajemudu in Telugu, Kallimullpazham in Malayalam, and Dindla in Gujarati. The younger plants are edible and often part of the Mexican diet. The other edible parts of the prickly pear cactus are the flowers, stems, and the leaves. Widely known as “cactus pear”, prickly pear by different names in different countries and regions like Tuna, Nopal, Nopales, Barberry figs, Indian figs. Prickly pear is a cylindrical fruit that has a firm outer skin with barbs and softer inner flesh, which is edible. It is green initially and turns reddish-pink as it matures in most plants (1). It can be eaten raw, boiled, or grilled. It is also used to make juice and jams. These tasty, oval fruits sprout from the tops of prickly cactus leaves and range in various colors from deep red-green to yellow or purple. It’s taste is similar to watermelon/raspberries and it has cucumber-like fragrance. What Is The History Of Prickly Pear? Being a cactus, the prickly pear plant can survive in dry weather conditions. It is said to have originated in Mexico and the northern countries of South America, which fall under the arid to semi-arid climate categories. In these regions, it has been a diet staple for thousands of years. It was later found to be used in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent as well. With increasing popularity, prickly pear cacti are now cultivated in Europe and Australia too. The fruit is relished not just for its flavor but also for its health benefits. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties have made this thorny fruit popular. So, why are these fruits food for you? Why Are Prickly Pears Good For You? Prickly pear is rich in many nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. These make it a wonderful and healthy addition to your diet for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Their low cholesterol and saturated fat content make them a suitable option for many people across the globe who are suffering from obesity and heart disease. These versatile fruits are not a hassle to cut or prepare. If you have access to them, go ahead and purchase a few. Let us look at this fruit’s nutrition facts now. Prickly Pears Nutrition Facts When we talk about the nutritional value of prickly pear, it contains magnesium, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins C and B, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, and many other nutrients. Having one cup of this fruit can be a good source of a considerable part of the daily intake value of many vitamins and minerals. Bear in mind that the calcium found in this traditional desert plant may not be present in its biologically active form. It is present in the form of a non-absorbable complex (calcium oxalate). Nutrition Facts Serving Size 149g Amount Per ServingCalories 61Calories from Fat 6% Daily Value*Total Fat1g1%Saturated Fat 0g0%Trans FatCholesterol 0mg0%Sodium 7mg0mgTotal Carbohydrate 14g5%Dietary Fiber 5g21%SugarsProtien 1gVitamin A1%Vitamin C35%Calcium8%Iron2% Vitamins Amounts Per Selected Serving %DV Vitamin A64.1IU1%Vitamin C20.9mg35%Vitamin D––Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)––Vitamin K––Thiamin0.0mg1%Riboflavin0.1mg5%Niacin0.7mg3%Vitamin B60.1mg4%Folate8.9mcg2%Vitamin B120.0mcg0%Pantothenic Acid––Choline–Betaine–Vitamin C35%MineralsAmounts Per Selected Serving%DVCalcium83.4mg8%Iron0.4mg2%Magnesium127mg32%Phosphorus35.8mg4%Potassium328mg9%Sodium7.5mg0%Zinc0.2mg1%Copper0.1mg6%Manganese––Selenium0.9mcg1%Fluoride––Fats & Fatty AcidsAmounts Per Selected Serving%DVTotal Fat0.8g1%Saturated Fat0.1g0%Monounsaturated Fat0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat0.3gTotal trans fatty acids–Total trans-monoenoic fatty acids–Total trans-polyenoic fatty acids–Total Omega-3 fatty acids34.3mgTotal Omega-6 fatty acids277mg The amount of vitamin C present in one cup of prickly pear constitutes 35% of our daily value intake, whereas magnesium constitutes 32% of the DV. It is also rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are the healthy forms of fats that possess anti-inflammatory properties. Now that we have a brief understanding of the nutrients found in prickly pear cactus fruit, let us look what the presence of these nutrients implies. The many health benefits of this fruit are discussed below. What Are The Health Benefits Of Prickly Pear Cactus? Some of prickly pear health benefits include its ability to lower cholesterol levels, aid in weight loss, improve the digestive process, fight cancer cells, decrease the risk of diabetes, boost the immune system and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s. Read on to know more. 1. Potential Role In Weight Control ￼ Image: Shutterstock Obesity is a global epidemic and needs to be managed at the earliest. Instead of resorting to extreme measures like harmful medications or surgery, a simple solution to this problem could be consuming plenty of dietary fiber. Prickly pear fruit contains fiber that will make you feel full for longer and reduce hunger pangs. It also helps in the elimination of dietary fat by binding it and excreting it from the system. As the intestines do not get a chance to absorb the dietary fat, this fruit effectively helps in weight control and even weight loss (2). 2. Helps Lower Cholesterol Continuing on the weight loss tangent, prickly pear can also help reduce the cholesterol levels in the blood. Its fiber (pectin) content can be held responsible for this as it helps eliminate LDL cholesterol from the body. Experiments have shown that prickly pear can reduce both plasma levels and hepatic levels of cholesterol (3, 4). Also, certain phytosterols found in cactus seed oil can alter cholesterol metabolism in a positive way (5). Hyperlipidemia, the condition of high cholesterol levels, can also be brought under control. 3. Source Of Essential Micronutrients The essential micronutrients found in prickly pear are vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Of these, the highest % DV is held by vitamin C and magnesium (6). Consumption of one cup of this fruit on a regular basis can provide your body with these micronutrients that are required for various physiological and metabolic processes. 4. Fights Cancer Cells The flavonoid compounds in prickly pear lower the risk of breast, prostate, stomach, pancreatic, ovarian, cervical, and lung cancers. They were shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the lab and mice models. They also caused the death of these cancerous cells at higher concentrations (7). These compounds also have the ability to remove free radicals and improve the activities of pro-oxidant enzymes. 5. Prevents Ulcers Both physical and mental stress can cause changes in the gastrointestinal mucosa and result in gastric ulcers. Inflammation occurs as there is an increase in the pro-inflammatory compounds that damage the gastric wall. Prickly pear exerts a positive effect on the gastric mucosa, and this activity is mainly facilitated by a compound called betanin found in this fruit. The gastric mucus production is regulated, and there is also a reduction in the pro-inflammatory chemicals. As a result of this, the chances of developing ulcers are highly reduced by the consumption of prickly pear (8). 6. Blood Sugar Regulation ￼ Image: Shutterstock Cactus pear is often touted for its hypoglycemic activity. This means that the ingestion of this fruit or its extract can lower high blood glucose levels as well as maintain normal levels. Different experiments on both diabetic and antidiabetic rats have shown a decrease in blood glucose levels. The main mechanism of this reduction is a decrease in the intestinal absorption of glucose (9, 10). Prickly pear cactus fruit’s fiber and pectin content are considered responsible for this activity. Once the blood sugar levels are brought under control, type II diabetes can be managed easily. 7. Nopal Cactus Cleans The Colon The high fiber content of prickly pear not only helps in lowering blood sugar/glucose and cholesterol levels but also helps in regulating the general functioning of the colon. Enough glucose is absorbed, and unhealthy fats and excess bile are eliminated from the body. This keeps the colon in optimum health. The inflammation and oxidative stress that the colon is being subjected to are also alleviated. The antioxidants present in prickly pear eliminate the free radicals and inflammation-inducing compounds, thus cleansing and protecting the colon (11). 8. Soothes The Stomach In Mexico, prickly pear is commonly used as a dietary supplement. People consume prickly pear daily to regularize their bowel movements. This helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and prevents constipation. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of compounds found in cactus pear are also responsible for aiding stomach health and soothing it (12). 9. Protects The Liver We often consume carcinogens and other compounds that can damage the liver without realizing the damage they can cause. Here’s a solution. Consume prickly pear as a juice or in the form of jams or jellies to prevent liver damage. It contains plenty of antioxidants that can reduce the oxidative stress caused by such compounds on the liver. It exerts hepatoprotective activity that mainly involves eliminating free radicals and increasing the body’s antioxidant activity against these compounds (13). 10. Reduces Hangovers ￼ Image: Shutterstock This fruit has the ability to reduce the effects of a hangover. Prickly pear juice reduces the production of inflammatory mediators that induce the uncomfortable feeling during alcohol hangovers. It also reduces other symptoms like nausea and dry mouth (14). 11. Immune System Booster The vitamin C content of prickly pear is responsible for this particular health benefit. Vitamin C boosts the body’s immune response against various infections. It increases the production of white blood cells that undertake the process of killing and eliminating infectious microorganisms from the body. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and reduces the free radical damage throughout the body. This also gives the immune system a boost (15, 16). 12. Reduces Risk Of Colon Cancer Prickly pear contains various types of antioxidants like flavonoids, quercetins, gallic acid, phenolic compounds, betacyanins, etc. The antioxidant activity of these was tested against colon cancer cell lines, and the viability of these cells was greatly affected by them (17). Quercetin, especially, plays a key role in the disruption of a certain pathway involved in the development of cancer cells (18). 13. Protects Against Heart Disease The fiber content of prickly pear helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body and maintain blood pressure. Hence, hypertension and bad cholesterol are brought under control. These factors are associated with atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and other heart diseases. Cactus fruit’s antioxidants also help to enhance cardiovascular health (19, 20). The biologically active flavonoids in prickly pears normalize the blood platelet stickiness, which helps to maintain good cardiovascular health (21). Hence, herbal doctors often recommend consuming prickly pear for alleviating cardiovascular disease. 14. Alleviates Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) Prickly pear is rich in the mineral potassium. When ingested, this mineral can reduce the pressure on the blood vessels and lower the elevated blood pressure levels. Regular intake of prickly pear can maintain normal blood pressure levels and give relief from hypertension. The betalain found in this fruit also strengthens the inner walls of the blood vessels, further aiding in the promotion of cardiovascular health (22). 15. Osteoporosis Protection ￼ Image: Shutterstock This fruit is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antihistamine in nature. It also contains flavonoids that prevent the release of the compounds that help in inflammation of the joints and muscles caused due to gout, arthritis, exercise, fibromyalgia, and allergies. Osteoporosis, which is essentially an inflammatory disease, can be prevented and treated with prickly pear supplementation (23). 16. Stroke Prevention A decrease in total body fat and elevated cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure levels can all impact cardiovascular health in a very positive way. As these levels are reduced in the body, the risk of stroke or heart attack goes down (24, 25). 17. Reduces Frequency Of Migraine Headaches Migraine is a chronic inflammatory condition that is characterized by the presence of a severe headache (usually on one side of the head) with disturbances in digestion and vision. And to alleviate this inflammation, anti-inflammatory compounds are needed. These are found in abundance in the prickly pear fruit, especially the compound indicaxanthin. This is technically a dietary pigment that can reduce various pro-inflammatory factors in the body (26). If consumed frequently, this fruit can help people deal with migraines. It also reduces their intensity and frequency. 18. Alleviates Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Cramps, back pain, headaches, and breast tenderness are common symptoms that woman experience during PMS. Most of these symptoms are associated with an increase in the levels of prostaglandins (hormone-like chemicals) in the body. Prickly pear is known to inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, thus alleviating PMS symptoms (27). 19. Strengthens Bones And Teeth Our teeth and bones are composed of calcium, and our diet is the only source of this mineral. The body obviously cannot synthesize calcium by itself. One cup of fresh prickly pear fruit contains 83 milligrams of calcium, which constitutes about 8% of the daily intake recommended by the FDA. This calcium intake will strengthen our bones and teeth (28). 20. Promotes Digestive Health ￼ Image: Shutterstock Fiber is an important part of our diet when it comes to digestive health. And prickly pear is loaded with fiber. This aids smooth digestion of various components of the food we eat and enhances the activity of the digestive enzymes. Additionally, the fiber from the fruit can help in the smooth elimination of wastes from the body (29). 21. Makes Your Nails Healthy Prickly pear seed oil can be used to moisturize dry and damaged nails and restore the health of the nails and cuticles. It contains moisturizing fatty acids like linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid. Small concentrations of other fatty acids are also found (30). What Are The Benefits Of Prickly Pear For The Skin? The seeds of this fruit are cold pressed to prepare a beauty oil. It possesses many properties that give it the following benefits: 22. Anti-Aging Properties It contains skin-softening vitamins E and K. It also contains a good amount of skin hydrating and nourishing fatty acids. These prevent the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, thus making prickly pear oil a good anti-aging agent (30). 23. Anti-Inflammatory Agent This xerophytic plant’s oil has great inflammation-fighting capabilities because of the presence of anti-inflammatory compounds. The betalains and phenolic compounds exert this effect when the oil is applied topically on the skin. Swelling and irritation due to insect bites, scrapes, or inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis can be reduced by the application of this oil. 24. Brightens The Skin Tone This oil is also often used for its skin brightening properties. Linoleic acid, which is a fatty acid, not only nourishes the skin but also eliminates dullness. It also protects the skin from UV radiation (31). 25. Helps Achieve Smoother Skin It is super hydrating for dull and dry skin. Linoleic, oleic, and palmitic fatty acids, which are found in major proportions in prickly pear seed oil, supply the skin with the oils it lacks. 26. Heals Cuts, Wounds, And Blemishes Phenolic compounds are also found in good concentrations in prickly pear oil, which exert antioxidant effects on the skin and help repair damaged skin (32). Cut wounds, scars, and other blemishes that may have formed due to various reasons will start healing and fading over time. Apply this oil regularly to reap its healing benefits. 27. Reduces Dark Circles Dark circles under the eyes are formed due to many reasons. Lack of sleep, dehydration, and oxidative stress are the major factors that can cause your under eye area to become dull and get a bluish-purplish tinge. Prickly pear seed oil contains skin nourishing fatty acids that also possess skin brightening properties. In conjunction, these properties can help to lighten your dark circles. All of these properties make prickly pear seed oil an excellent choice for mature, aging, and/or damaged skin. Let us now look at the benefits of prickly pear for your hair. How Does Prickly Pear Benefit Your Hair? Both the fruit and the oil from its seeds can be used to smoothen hair texture, reduce hair fall, increase hair growth, and improve hair health overall. 28. Nourishes Hair We already know that the oil from the seeds of this cactus fruit contains plenty of fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins that can benefit the skin. Similarly, these can also nourish the scalp and hair by providing the healthy oils they may be lacking. A special mention is required for prickly pear’s vitamin E content that can deeply condition the hair. 29. Makes Your Hair Shiny ￼ Image: Shutterstock You can use prickly pear oil to make your hair glossy. This oil can give you double the amount of fatty acids and protein than argan oil, which is a popular oil used for restoring the natural hair shine. 30. Reduces Hair Loss The pulp of this fruit is often added to hair care products as its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can give relief from many scalp conditions and, in turn, reduce hair loss and stimulate hair growth (33, 34). 31. Natural Hair Conditioner Here’s a simple recipe to concoct your own hair conditioner at home using prickly pear cactus: You Will Need 1-2 large nopal cactus pads1/2 cucumber2-3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil1-2 tablespoons coconut milk (optional) What You Have To Do 1. Wash the cactus carefully and peel it to remove all the thorns and barbs. 2. Dice this into small squares and add chopped cucumber to it. 3. Add the olive oil and coconut milk and blend everything. 4. Apply this on the scalp and hair. 5. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and then rinse it off thoroughly. Make sure no residue remains in your hair. This cactus pear hair mask will make your hair healthy, silky, and soft. It is also useful to protect your hair from the scorching sun and rejuvenate heat-damaged hair. Those were the benefits of the fruit. Now, let’s see where you can buy these delectable fruits. Where To Buy Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit? Prickly pears can be easily found in regular grocery stores. If you cannot find them there, try the Mexican or Middle Eastern vegetable markets. See the next section to know how to make prickly pear a wonderful addition to your diet. How To Incorporate Prickly Pear Into Your Diet? ￼ Image: Shutterstock The prickly pear cactus plant has different parts that are edible. The pad of the cactus, which is often referred to as the nopal, is used as a vegetable in Mexican dishes. Its texture is similar to that of okra when cooked. It is boiled or grilled and is added to soups and salads mostly. Apart from the cactus pad, the fruit or the pear itself can be eaten. Like any other fruit, you can simply rinse it, peel it, and eat it fresh. The flowers of this plant are often used as garnishing or added to salads for extra flavor. Eating the prickly pear fruit is not a difficult process. All you need to do is peel the skin and eat the fleshy pulp present inside. Be careful of the spines when you are handling the fruit initially and the seeds when you are eating it. Many people also prepare jams and jellies from prickly pear fruit. If you do not have access to a store where you can purchase this fruit from, there are extracts available in the market. The dosage of these extracts would depend on the concentration, and it is best if the manufacturer’s recommendation is followed. Prickly pear water is also available in the market these days. This is prepared from the juice of the fruit and filtered water, along with some additional ingredients like lemon juice. Prickly pear is used in various forms to serve various purposes. These uses are given below. Uses Of Prickly Pear Cactus As A Supplement Due to its benefits for lowering blood sugar levels, supplements for type 2 diabetes patients have been designed. The extract is also used to lower cholesterol, target obesity, and lower the risk of heart disease. This supplement is available usually in a powder or a pill form. People also use the supplement before drinking alcohol to reduce the symptoms of an alcoholic hangover. Juice And Pulp The juice or the pulp (without seeds) of the prickly pear fruit is extracted to make jams and jellies. The juice, by itself, can be very tart. It is often added to lemonade or margaritas for that extra zing. To reduce the tartness and still benefit from this amazing xerophyte, jams and jellies are prepared. Medicinal Uses When it comes to usage in medicine, prickly pear is used in medications for: Type 2 diabetesHigh cholesterolObesityAlcohol hangoverHeart diseaseColitisDiarrheaViral infectionsBenign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) (35) Now that we covered the many uses of this fruit, it is also important to know how to select the best fruit and store it so that you can derive the maximum benefits. Read on to know how. How To Select And Store Cactus Pear Mid-August is considered the best time to harvest prickly pear cactus fruit. Once you have located a plant, follow these steps: Using a pair of tongs, gently pluck the fruit from the cactus pad. It should come off easily. Beware of the spines on the nopales and also the glochids (microscopic spines) on the fruit. Using gardening or leathergloves can help prevent any spines from piercing your skin.Transfer the fruits to a large, clean bowl or bucket. Make sure to leave at least one fruit per cactus pad so that your harvesting does not interfere with the plants’ reproduction process.Pick fruits that are ruby colored (or other colors seen in prickly pear). Do not pick the ones that are still green at the ends.Rinse the fruits with water thoroughly. Swirl them around gently while doing this to get rid of the spines. Cactus pear fruits remain ripe for about a week. They can also be refrigerated for 3-4 days in a plastic bag. Here is how you can cut and prepare prickly pear fruit. How To Eat Prickly Pear Cactus Rinse the fruit thoroughly in a colander using cold water. Keep swirling it around gently while doing this to get rid of the all the spines.Once all the spines have been removed, gently pat the fruit dry using a soft napkin.Take a sharp knife and cut the top and bottom parts of the fruit and discard them.Cut lengthwise to peel off the skin, similar to how you would peel an orange with a knife.Chop or slice the fruit, as per your preference, and eat it. Though the seeds are safe to ingest, many people prefer not to as they are too hard. If you are still confused about how to consume this exotic fruit, we have some simple but delicious recipes for you below. Any Prickly Pear Recipes? 1. Prickly Pear Lemonade ￼ Image: Shutterstock You Will Need 1 prickly pear2 tablespoons lemon juice1 cup water1/2 tablespoon sugar5-6 ice cubesMint leaves for garnishing Recipe Add the sugar and lemon juice to water and mix well.Cut the prickly pear in half and remove the pulp present inside. Add this to the lemonade.Blend all of these for 15-30 seconds.Strain the mixture to remove the seeds.Add ice cubes and drink this refreshing lemonade with a twist. 2. Prickly Pear Puree You Will Need Prickly pear Recipe Rinse and peel the fruit. De-seed it.Squash the flesh thoroughly for a couple of minutes until you get a smooth puree.Store this in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 3. Prickly Pear Ice Cream You Will Need 1 cup prickly pear juice1/8 cup lemon juice1 quart half and half1 teaspoon sea salt2 cups sugar1 teaspoon tangerine zestA pinch of lemon zest Recipe Combine all the ingredients and pour into an ice cream maker.Let it run for about 20 minutes.Freeze the ice cream overnight or for at least six hours. 4. Prickly Pear Cactus Jelly You Will Need 2 1/2 lbs prickly pear fruit3-4 tablespoons lemon juice2 cups sugarPeel of half a lemonWater Recipe Singe off the spines on the fruit and carefully peel them.Cut into inch-long chunks and transfer to a pot. Add enough water to cover the entire fruit.Bring this to a boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes.Strain this using a cheesecloth to remove all the seeds. Use a wooden spoon to mash the pulp and get all the juice from it.To this prickly pear juice, add the lemon juice, sugar, and lemon peel.Cook this at high heat and keep stirring regularly until you get a jelly consistency.Store in airtight jars in the refrigerator for up to six months. Let me now summarize some key facts about prickly pear for you. What Are The Facts About Prickly Pear I Need To Know? Prickly pear is also known as the nopal cactus and has flat, oval green leaves called pads, which are covered in spines.The fruits arise from the top of the cactus pads and are edible.This fruit, which is also called as the cactus pear, cactus fig or tuna, is usually red.Prickly pear is rich in vitamin C, magnesium, and omega fatty acids. It contains zero cholesterol.Even the pads of this plant are edible. They are commonly used in soups and salads.The fruits can be ingested by themselves or in the form of juice, jams, jellies, and even candy.Cactus fig is beneficial for the treatment of many ailments like high cholesterol, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and stomach issues. Even though this fruit has plenty of benefits, it can, at times, cause reactions in a few people. Here are the side effects experienced. Side Effects Of Prickly Pear Cactus Upset stomach, diarrhea, bloating, and headache are the most common side effects noticed (36).Nasal inflammation or asthma can be caused due to an allergy to it.Eating broiled nopal stem can have an extreme hypoglycemic effect. This is not seen when raw stems or ripe fruit are eaten.It can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb certain medications due to its diuretic properties.Pregnant or women who are breastfeeding should not intake prickly pear in any form as it can interfere with the fetus’ or child’s development. Let us now look at some of the commonly asked questions by our readers about prickly pear. Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions What can reduce the skin irritation caused by prickly pear contact? The spines (glochids) present on prickly pear can come in contact with the skin and at times, cause allergic reactions such as hives. These usually subside within an hour or so. If the spines have pierced the skin, carefully pluck them using tweezers or cellophane tape. To reduce the itching and irritation, you can use over-the-counter steroids or antihistamines. Does prickly pear/tuna increase hemoglobin? Is it safe to consume? Prickly pear has been known to increase hemoglobin. However, there is no clinical proof for this. However, it is absolutely safe to consume. So, go ahead and try it. Does prickly pear cause constipation? Prickly pear is often used to relieve constipation because of its fiber content. Irrespective of this, excessive intake can actually cause constipation because of the high amount of fiber blocking the intestines. Hence, it is best to consume it in moderate amounts. How to prune prickly pear cactus? Pruning is best done in spring or late summer to remove damaged, poorly formed, or excessive cactus pads. Using protective hand gear and clothing, carefully trim the pads at their bases. It might be best to cut off some of the top parts of the pads first to get better access to the base. If you are unsure about pruning the plant yourself or the cactus has grown out too much, get professional help. Are all prickly pear cactus edible? What kind of cactus is edible? The genus Opuntia consists of different species of cacti that are edible. You can identify these plants by their oval, flattened, green, and spine covered pads. The prickly pear cactus (O. Ficus-indica) is the most commonly eaten species. How many calories are in cactus pears? One cup of cactus pear contains around 61 calories. Is a cactus a fruit or a vegetable? The prickly pear cactus is one of those plants that is a vegetable and a fruit. The green pads are the vegetable whereas the red pear is the fruit. Have you ever tried prickly pear fruit? Or have you had a chance to have one of those delicious Mexican dishes with the cactus pads in it? Share your experience with us in the comments section. Stay healthy! Recommended Articles:Dr. Tapan Kumar Sau4 Likes16 Answers
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23 best foods to improve women's health timesofindia.com Aug 24, 2017 12:09 PM ￼ 20 Best foods to improve women's health (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images) It is pretty clear that there exist both physiological and metabolic differences in both men and women. Considering the fact that a woman's body is different from her male counterpart, the nutritional requirements differ, especially because her body goes through the monthly menstrual cycle for most part of her life, preparing to conceive every month and then the menopausal phase. So here we have mentioned a few foods that every woman should definitely add to her diet. Green leafy vegetables: Enriched with iron content, green leafy vegetables like spinach have natural source of calcium, which are good for your bone strength. Not just this, these leafy greens are loaded with magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin C and phytonutrients that provides a package for your bone health. Whole grains: Including whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, bran flakes and whole-grain breads increases the fibre content in your body. Another reason you should add whole-grains in your diet is that it improves the digestive problems. If your digestive system is clean, you can prevent flatulence, constipation and even colon cancer. Nuts: This delicious food is known as the powerhouse of essential vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. They are good for your bones and make your memory sharp. Almonds are loaded with bone strengthening minerals like magnesium and are a great source of calcium too. Walnuts contain excellent source of omega-3 fats, which result in preserving and strengthening bones. Pistachios are not only delicious but are high in magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6. So, eat a handful of nuts every day and improve your overall health. Eggs: Eggs provide a source of non-dairy calcium. They are enriched with vitamin D which promotes overall health. ￼ Onions: Onions have an amazing bone strengthening potential as they contain a certain type of polyphenol which boosts bone health. According to a study, eating onions once a day or more helps in improving your bone mass by 5 per cent. A study conducted on women above the age of 50 showed that those who ate onions regularly had a 20 per cent lower risk of suffering a hip fracture than those who didn't eat onions regularly. Blueberries: Want to slow down your ageing process? Then add blueberries to your diet. Blueberries contain an amazing anti-ageing property, called asanthocyanins. They also prevent memory loss, maintain blood pressure levels and improve motor skills. High in antioxidants, they fight against free radicals and wrinkles. Yoghurt: One of the oldest health boosting foods, yogurt should be eaten regularly. The 'probiotics bacteria' in yogurt helps in digestion, reduces inflammation and builds immunity. Yoghurt also has bone strengthening component - calcium and helps in reducing problems linked with irritable bowel syndrome, vaginal infections, inflammatory digestive tract disorders and stomach ulcers. Tofu and soy milk: A highly nutritious food, tofu is enriched with protein and iron. It also contains other minerals such as manganese, phosphorous and selenium which strengthen bones. You can also include soy milk in your diet as both these food items are an excellent source of non-dairy calcium. Parmesan cheese: Parmesan is a good source for calcium. And if you're watching your weight, add parmesan cheese in your diet. It is lactose-free, easy to digest and enriched with phosphate. Oats: Kickstart your day with a bowl of oats. Oats help in maintaining your cholesterol level as they are rich in soluble and insoluble fiber. Losing weight, maintaining cholesterol levels and improved digestion are some of the benefits that you get from eating oats. Tomatoes: Tomatoes help in preventing breast and cervical cancer. They promote heart health and protect against cardiovascular diseases. Milk: High in calcium, potassium, vitamin B12 and riboflavin, milk also gives you healthy bones, teeth and a glowing skin. Milk can lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer too. ￼ Bananas: Bananas are high in potassium which maintains the body's circulatory system. They are a great source of natural energy as they contain various vitamins, minerals and carbs. Bananas promote bowel health and relieve you from constipation. Cranberry: Cranberries contain a compound known as proanthocyanidins. This compound helps in preventing bacteria from growing in the walls of the bladder. Cranberries naturally prevent urinary tract infections and helps in promoting heart health. Broccoli: Another superfood, broccoli contains compounds that helps in preventing breast cancer. Enriched in vitamin C and A, it has low calorie content. Broccoli also have high dose of fiber, potassium calcium, and iron. Salmon: Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon promotes the health of the membrane of each cell in the body. Eating salmon protects us against various health problems such as heart disease, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. Apples: Apples contain quercetin - an antioxidant which helps in boosting our body's disease-fighting abilities. Apples sharpen brain and those who want to shed extra weight, should add apples in their diet as they help to satisfy your hunger. Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and fiber. They have a disease-fighting compound called lignans and are considered as one of the best ingredients for women. They help to cut down hot flashes and lowers bad cholesterol. It also helps in fighting against breast cancer. Carrots: Carrots are a good source of complex carbs. They provide energy to muscles and potassium to control blood pressure. Enriched with vitamin A, carrots promote glowing skin, and slows down ageing. Avocados: Avocados are rich in the heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which help in reducing belly fat. Avocados are loaded with potassium, magnesium, folate, protein, and vitamins B6, E, and K. ￼ Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate has heart-protective antioxidants which helps in reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. It is also loaded with bone strengthening compounds like magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc and phosphorus. Dark chocolate helps in hydrating your skin, lowers blood pressure and boosts your memory. Green tea: Green tea helps in fight cancer and heart diseases. It also prevents dementia, diabetes and stroke. Keeping your body well-hydrated, it helps fight fatigue. Water: Keeping metabolic processes in our body intact, water is an essential component of our daily diet. Water helps in improving energy, removes toxins from the body and keeps the skin radiant and healthy. So drink at least 8-10 glasses a day and keep your digestion system intact. Report a problem ￼45￼dislikDr. Tapan Kumar Sau4 Likes10 Answers
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Health Benefits of Alfalfa Grass ............................................................... Alfalfa grass is a flowering plant that is very common and the alfalfa grass health benefits are plentiful. The following will uncover 5 surprising health benefits of alfalfa grass… It is a perennial plant, which means that it grows and blooms over the spring and summer. During the fall and winter, the plants die back. In the spring, they return from the rootstock. The basic benefit of alfalfa is that it is very nutritious when it is consumed. This plant is high in chlorophyll, micronutrients, and vitamins A, B1, B6, C, E, and K. It also contains calcium, iron, zinc, and potassium. Finally, it contains more protein than most plants. What Are the Health Benefits of Alfalfa Grass? Other than the nutritional value, alfalfa has several health benefits. These include: Anti-Inflammatory Properties: An alfalfa study was published in the July 2009 issue of Journal of Biomedical Science. The study was performed on animals that were injected with compounds that contained inflammation. The animals that were not fed alfalfa sprouts had increased inflammation compared to those who were fed alfalfa sprouts. Bolsters Immune System: A study was performed and published in the March 2009 issue of “Lupus”. During this study, animals were injected with alfalfa sprout ethyl acetate extract. The scientists doing this study wanted to see if alfalfa sprouts could be beneficial for people who suffer from autoimmune diseases, such as lupus. The animals that were given alfalfa had lower T-cell counts at the end of the study. Antioxidant Effects and Radiation Protection: A study was conducted in Turkey, and the results were published in the February 2008 issue of Photocheistry and Photobiology. According to the study, alfalfa can protect the cells from damage from x-rays, due to its antioxidant properties. The animals that were given alfalfa before having an x-ray had less free radicals and cell damage than those who were not given alfalfa. Lower Cholesterol: High cholesterol can lead to stroke and heart disease. A study was performed and published in the May 1087 issue of Atherosclerosis. According to the study, patients with high cholesterol were given alfalfa for 8 weeks. At the end of the study, their LDL, also known as bad cholesterol, dropped by 30 percent. After the study, the patients stopped eating alfalfa, and their cholesterol returned to the previous levels before the study was conducted. The study indicated that regular consumption of alfalfa could successfully reduce cholesterol. Improves Certain Medical Conditions: Alfalfa has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions, including kidney, bladder, and prostate conditions. It can also increase urine flow. Patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, upset stomach, and asthma can benefit from alfalfa. Side Effects of Alfalfa Grass Alfalfa is relatively safe for adults. However, if you take large amounts of alfalfa for a long period of time, the seeds can cause a reaction that is similar to lupus. Also, alfalfa can make the skin more sensitive to the sun. It is important for light skinned people to wear sunblock when going outdoors. Patients who are pregnant should avoid alfalfa. There is evidence that alfalfa can act like estrogen, which can have a negative effect on the pregnancy. Its estrogen effect can also be harmful for patients who suffer from breast cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer. If you have diabetes, you should check your blood sugar levels often, as alfalfa can lower your blood sugar. You may think that you are eating right, and your blood sugar levels are fine, but the alfalfa can have an effect on it. Patients who have had a kidney transplant should avoid consuming anything with alfalfa. There has been one reported case of a patient who had a transplant and rejected it due to their consumption of alfalfa. Because alfalfa boosts the immune system, it can make the anti-drugs that are given after the surgery, less effective. How to Take Alfalfa Grass The most common way to ingest alfalfa is to add alfalfa sprouts to a salad. You can also purchase alfalfa supplements and take them with your daily multivitamin. Alfalfa Grass in Green Powder Drinks If salad is not your favorite thing to eat, and you would rather not take a daily supplement, you can purchase green powder drinks that contain the right amount of alfalfa that is healthy for your diet. Green powder drinks such as Total Living Drink Greens contain numerous ingredients, including alfalfa grass, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Just having a drink or two a day can greatly improve your health. Alfalfa grass grows all over the world, and is very plentiful. For years, many people did not know the many health benefits of alfalfa grass. As studies were conducted on this grass, more and more people began putting alfalfa sprouts in their salad, and even eating them on their own. As the health food industry began seeing the importance of this grass, many companies began using alfalfa in their green drink powders.Dr. Sanjay Kumar Mallick9 Likes29 Answers
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TOP 24 HEALTH WONDERS OF IZKHAR/LEMONGRASS- 1. Respiratory Balm: Lemongrass is rich in volatile oils, which have a beneficial, balsamic effect on the respiratory tract, alleviating certain conditions including laryngitis and sore throats. 2. Anti-Pyretic: Inhaling lemongrass vapors increases perspiration and lowers heat, relieving the symptoms associated with flu, cold and hay fever. 3. Relieves Pain: The analgesic compounds in lemongrass essential oils help alleviate muscle spasms, by relaxing the muscles, providing instant relief in cases of abdominal pain, headaches, joint pains, digestive tract spasms, and muscle cramps. 4. Regulates Blood Pressure: Lemongrass’ high potassium content promotes diuresis, which lowers and regulates blood pressure, stimulates blood circulation and reduces hypertension. 5. Repairs Tissues: Lemongrass oil increases the body’s ability to repair damaged connective tissue, by improving blood circulation, in cases of trauma to cartilage, ligaments and tendons. 6. Anti Septic: Lemongrass inhibits the growth of harmful micro-organisms(bacteria, yeast, fungal, parasites, etc.), quickly healing gastrointestinal infections, urinary tract infections and wounds, while preserving the beneficial bacteria. 7. Diuretic: Lemongrass is an effective diuretic (increasing the frequency of waste disposal through urine), effectively eliminating toxins and uric acid, cleansing and alleviating the digestive, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and bladder functions. 8. Relives Constipation/Indigestion: Lemongrass regulates intestinal function and motility, by destroying bad bacteria and parasites, repopulating the good bacteria in the colon, effective in curing indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, intestinal bloating, flatulence, stomach spasms, vomiting and cramps. 9. Antidepressant: Lemongrass tea has long been prescribed in alleviating anxiety and depressive symptoms as it contains nutrients necessary for effective nervous system functioning, and in calming stressed nerves. 10. Anti Cancer: Citral, a compound found in lemongrass, has shown to contribute in the death of cancer cells with no noted negative effect on normal cells. 11. Detoxifier: The anti-oxidant, anti-septic, and diuretic effects of lemongrass make it an important ingredient of any detox diet, as it helps cleanse and purify the liver, kidneys, bladder, pancreas, and increases blood circulation. 12. Fortifies Nervous System: Lemongrass essential oils contain nutrients like magnesium, phosphorous, and Folate, known to nourish and strengthen the functioning of the nervous system, improving concentration, memory and the brain’s ability to process information. 13. Analgesic: Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, lemongrass juice can be used as a valuable aid for treating toothache, muscle pain, joint pain, arthritis, gout and inflammation of the urinary tract. 14. For Women's Health: Lemongrass tea is excellent in providing relief from morning sickness, hot flushes, and in reduction of menstrual pain. 15. Insect Repellent: Citronella oil, extracted from lemongrass leaves and stems, is one of the most potent organic insect repellent, and can be found in soap, perfumery, and flavoring formulations. 16. For Anemia: Iron, essential for the synthesis of hemoglobin (the protein in red cells responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body), is abundant in lemongrass. 17. For Diabetes: The purifying and cleansing effect of lemongrass tea, help to detoxify the pancreas and improve its functions, thus lowering blood sugar level in diabetic patients. 18. For Gastritis or Heartburn: A regular intake of warm Lemongrass tea therapeutically soothes, and gradually reduces the recurrence of gastritis, acid indigestion, and heartburn. 19. Anti-Cholesterol/Anti-Atherosclerosis: Lemongrass greatly limits cholesterol absorption from the intestines and also the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol in the blood, thus preventing one of the first steps in the formation of atheroscleroticplaques. 20. For Insomnia: Lemongrass purifies the body, nourishes and soothes the nervous system, and counters chemical imbalances which are the main reasons for insomnia. 21. For Weight loss: Some studies indicate that drinking lemongrass tea helps to melt fats through the detoxification process. The diuretic effect helps quick elimination of the toxins and waste in high volume, resulting in weight loss. 22. For Skin Care: Vitamin A, present in lemongrass, aids blood purification and circulation, serves as a refresher, clears up oily skin, and is effective in treating eruptions like acne, pimples, eczema and psoriasis. 23. Controls body odor: Lemongrass has been known to control excessive sweating, avoiding bad body odor. 24. Nutrient Rich: Lemongrass is an abundant source of vitamins A and C, folate, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and manganese; with minute traces of the B vitamins.Dr. Rummana Ansari9 Likes13 Answers
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10 Amazing Health Benefits Of Molokhia stylecraze.com Oct 23, 2017 11:51 AM ￼ Are high blood pressure levels making your life a mess? Do you think your cholesterol levels are sapping the energy and vitality from your life? What if there is one single ingredient that can help you combat these issues, in addition to numerous other common problems? We are talking about molokhia leaves here! This little known vegetable is widely used for its many known health benefits. Want to know what they are? Go ahead with your read! Health Benefits Of Molokhia – Top 10: 1. Lowers Blood Pressure: Molokhia leaves have been found to reduce the risk of hypertension, by effectively helping reduce blood pressure. Molokhia leaves are rich in potassium, and since potassium is a known vasodilator, it helps relax the arteries. This property of potassium helps improve oxygenation and reduces cardiovascular strain (1). 2. Improves Circulation: Molokhia leaves are rich in iron, which not only increases RBC production, but also leads to improved blood circulation. Iron is needed for the blood to carry oxygen and a deficiency in iron usually results in anemia. An iron-rich diet ensures that blood circulation is at the optimal level, which in turn helps you stay energetic (2). 3. Aids Digestion: Molokhia leaves are rich in dietary fiber, and this makes them especially good for your digestive health. Dietary fiber is a bulking agent which helps relieve irritable conditions like bloating and constipation (3). 4. Lowers Cholesterol: Molokhia leaves have been proven to reduce blood pressure, and they are especially rich in dietary fiber. This makes them one of the best agents for cholesterol reduction. Dietary fiber has been found to help reduce bad (LDL) cholesterol, which directly reduces the risk of you contracting arterial diseases like stroke, heart attack or even atherosclerosis (4).‘ 5. Relieves Insomnia: Molokhia is rich in many essential minerals, most notably magnesium. Magnesium has been proved to help eliminate sleep disorders like insomnia and even snoring disorders like apnea. Magnesium triggers the release of hormones that relax the body and calm the nerves. An increase in magnesium intake has been directly linked with regular and better sleep cycles (5). 6. Boosts Immunity: Molokhia leaves are rich in vitamins A, C and E. It is especially effective for the immune system. Vitamin C is one of the most effective antioxidants that not only eliminates free radicals, but also helps instigate WBC production (6). WBCs usually attack pathogens and infections first. Vitamins A and E are antioxidant vitamins that prevent free radical damage. The consumption of Molokhia leaves helps boost immunity. 7. Anti-Carcinogenic: Along with other essential minerals and nutrients, molokhia is rich in antioxidantvitamins A, C and E (7), (8). Antioxidants usually help protect the body from cancer-inducing free radicals and restrict the spread of cancerous cells and tumors. The high antioxidant content of molokhia leaves makes it an ideal anti-carcinogen. 8. Boosts Bone Health: Molokhia is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that have many health benefits. Some of these have been found to boost bone health and protect one against diseases like osteoporosis and arthritic conditions. Iron, selenium, calcium and magnesium are just some of the essential minerals that molokhia leaves contain (9), (10). 9. Anti-Inflammatory: In traditional medicine, Molokhia leaves have been used extensively as anti-inflammation agents. One of the constituent antioxidants that make up molokhia is Vitamin E, an especially effective anti-inflammatory agent that usually cures and treats most symptoms of inflammation. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, cystitis or other inflammatory conditions, consider adding molokhia leaves to your diet (11). 10. Cellular Growth: Molokhia leaves contain many essential nutrients and minerals that not only aid in the proper functioning of the body, but also help create new cells, skin, ligaments, muscles and organ systems. As molokhia is especially rich in magnesium, it is a great food that boosts cellular growth. Magnesium helps build new organic material and is necessary for proper cell growth (12). So, we hope that all these health benefits of of Molokhia will make you to reevaluate your diet. Tell us about your experiences with molokhia leaves here. Leave a comment below! Recommended Articles:Dr. Tapan Kumar Sau4 Likes15 Answers