29 Amazing Health & Beauty Benefits of Prickly Pears

Prickly pear or fig opuntia is a fruit that grows on a tree of the same name and belongs to the cactus family, Cactaceae. It is native to America but was later introduced to other regions of the world. It provides many health and beauty benefits due to the abundance of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and dietary fibers, etc.

Nutrition Chart of Prickly Pears

Nutrition Chart of Prickly Pears

Source-USDA

Health Benefits of Prickly Pears

Health And Beauty Benefits of Prickly Pears

Source-Pixabay.com

Some major health benefits of prickly pears are as follows.

(1) Boost Immunity

Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in prickly pears protect our immune cells or the white blood cells from free radical damage and thus strengthens our immune system.

The immune system is the defense mechanism of our body that aids in the prevention and treatment of various microbial infections, diseases, and as well as injuries, and wounds. 

Vitamin C enhances the production of white blood cells, and further strengthens our immunity.

With stronger immunity, our risk of getting a cough, cold, fever, and flu diminishes significantly.

The anti-microbial properties of prickly pears reduce the risk of various bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

Other nutrients like zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron, and folate, etc in prickly pears also contribute to better immune health.

(2) Strengthens Bones And Teeth

Prickly pears make our bones and teeth stronger due to bone-strengthening minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, etc.

Calcium is a vital mineral for the growth and development of the bones, and lack of this mineral may increase the risk of bone disorders like osteoporosis.

Potassium neutralizes acid load, reduces loss of calcium from the bones, and thus improves bone density.

Magnesium also improves bone density and thus contributes to better bone health.

Other nutrients like zinc, phosphorus, and folate, etc also aid in making our bones healthier.

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(3) Maintains Cholesterol Level

Dietary fibers in prickly pears reduce LDL cholesterol in the body and minimize the risk of atherosclerosis.

This minimizes the risk of atherosclerosis, a condition that leads to hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits in the arterial walls, and is a leading cause of several cardiovascular problems like heart attack, heart stroke, and coronary artery disease.

Phytosterols in prickly pears enhance cholesterol metabolism and reduce the risk of hyperlipidemia.

(4) Good For Stomach

Prickly pears are good for the stomach and improve our digestive health.

Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in prickly pears protect our digestive system from free radical damage and minimizes the risk of colon cancer, abdominal cancer, pancreatic cancer, intestinal cancer, and stomach cancer, etc.

The laxative properties of dietary fibers in prickly pears improve bowel movement, aids in stool elimination, and thus relieve constipation and other gastrointestinal issues like abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating and flatulence, etc. 

Other nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, and folate, etc also improves our digestive health.

(5) Regulates Hypertension

Potassium present in the prickly pears is a natural vasodilator that relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation, and thus provides relief from high blood pressure or hypertension.

Hypertension is a silent killer that affects millions of people around the world and gives rise to various health problems like severe headaches, nose bleed, chest pain, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, difficulty in breathing, vision problems, and blood in urine, etc.

Zinc and magnesium in prickly pears also aid in regulating high blood pressure.

Consume prickly pears in moderation as over-intake of potassium may lower the blood pressure to an abnormally low level giving rise to symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, nausea, dehydration, lack of concentration, blurred vision, and pale skin, etc.

If you are already on blood pressure medication, then consume prickly pears after having a word with your doctor to avoid the risk of food-drug intolerance.

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(6) Promotes Cardiovascular Health

Prickly pears improve our cardiovascular health.

Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols, etc in prickly pears protect our cardiovascular system from free radical damage and improves its efficiency.

Dietary fibers in prickly pears reduce LDL cholesterol and thus minimizes the risk of atherosclerosis which is a leading cause of several cardiovascular problems.

Potassium in prickly pears relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation, and controls hypertension or high blood pressure which is a major cause of several cardiovascular and other health problems.

Other nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper, etc in prickly pears also contribute to our cardiovascular health.

(7) Protects Against Various Cancers

Antioxidants and antioxidantal compounds like vitamin C, vitamin A, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in prickly pears protect our cells and tissues from free radical damage and minimizes the risk of several cancers like colon cancer, abdominal cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer, etc.

Free radicals are the unstabilized ions that stabilize by stealing electrons from the neighboring molecules, and doing so causes oxidative damage to them.

(8) Aids With Weight Loss

Eating 100 grams of prickly pears provides 41 calories of energy.

Because of their low calorific value, prickly pears are beneficial for weight loss and helps in getting rid of extra pounds.

Dietary fibers in prickly pears provide stomach satiety, controls our urge to eat again and again, and thus controls overeating which is a prime cause of obesity.

(9) Provides Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

Anti-inflammatory compounds like vitamin C and magnesium etc in the prickly pears provide relief from pain and inflammation caused by inflammatory diseases like arthritis, rheumatism, rheumatoid, gouts, asthma and bronchial asthma, etc.

(10) Provides Essential Micronutrients

Consuming prickly pears provide essential micronutrients like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, potassium, magnesium, and calcium, etc to the body and aids in various physiological and metabolic processes.

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(11) Fights Against Gastric Ulcers

Betanin, a glycoside in prickly pears reduces the production of gastric mucus and thus helps in treating gastric ulcers.

Vitamin C, vitamin A and other relevant compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in prickly pears protect our digestive system from free radical damage. and minimizes the risk of colon cancer, abdominal cancer, pancreatic cancer, intestinal cancer, and stomach cancer, etc.

Dietary fibers in prickly pears are a natural laxative that provides relief from constipation and other gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating and flatulence, etc. 

(12) Aids In Managing Diabetes

As prickly pear has a low glycemic index of 48, it slows down the rate at which sugar is released into the bloodstream, prevents a sudden spike in blood sugar level, and thus helps in managing diabetes.

The dietary fibers in the prickly reduce sugar absorption by the bloodstream and help in controlling blood sugar levels. 

Consume prickly pears in moderation as overeating it may drop the blood sugar to an abnormally low level giving rise to hypoglycemia with symptoms like shakiness, dizziness, excessive sweating, excessive hunger, fast heartbeat, confusion, and irritability or moodiness.

If you are on diabetic medication, consult your doctor before adding prickly pears to your diet to avoid the risk of food-drug intolerance.

(13) Maintain Liver Health

The liver is a vital organ that performs various biological functions and keeps us healthy. 

Prickly helps in maintaining our liver health as it contains antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc that protects our liver from free radical damage.

Vitamin C, an anti-inflammatory compound present in prickly pear protects our liver from inflammation and reduces the risk of hepatitis.

Because of its detoxifying properties, dietary fibers in prickly pears eliminates toxins, pollutants, and other unwanted substances from our body. 

To some extent, this reduces the burden of detoxification from the liver and allows it to focus on other functions they need to perform. 

Some other functions of the liver are as follows- 

  • Detoxification
  • Production and excretion of bile juice
  • Excretion of cholesterol, bilirubin, hormones, and drugs
  • Metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates, 
  • Enzyme activation synthesis of plasma proteins
  • Storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals.

(14) Reduces Hangover

Prickly pears help in reducing the severity of hangover as they contain anti-inflammatory compounds like vitamin C that reduce the production of inflammatory mediators responsible for causing uncomfortable feelings during a hangover. It also reduces hangover symptoms like nausea and dry mouth.

(15) Reduces Migraine Frequency

Migraine is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes severe headache ( usually on one side of the head) along with other symptoms like poor vision and disturbed digestion. 

The anti-inflammatory compounds like vitamin C and indicaxanthin in prickly pears aids in minimizing the frequency and severity of migraines.

(16) Alleviates Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Prickly pears inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins and reduce PMS symptoms like menstrual cramps, back pain, headache, mood swings, insomnia, poor concentration, and breast tenderness, etc. 

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Beauty Benefits of Prickly Pears For Skin

Following are the major beauty benefits of prickly pears for the skin.

(1) Provide Anti-Aging Benefits

Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in prickly pears protects our skin cells from the free radical damage, and keep various signs of premature aging like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dark spots, and skin blemishes, etc at bay.

Free radicals are the unstabilized ions that stabilize by stealing electrons from the neighboring molecules, and in doing so they cause oxidative damage to them.

Vitamin C enhances the production of collagen, an amino acid that maintains skin elasticity and prevents wrinkles and saggy skin.

(2) Treats skin Pigmentation

Prickly pears keep our skin healthy due to essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, etc.

These nutrients nourish our skin and make it soft, supple, and radiant. 

Antioxidants and relevant compounds in prickly pears protect our skin from free radical damage and helps in bringing out the natural glow of the skin.  It improves skin pigmentation and lightens skin tone. 

(3) Treats Skin Rashes And Eczema

The antimicrobial properties of prickly pears protect our skin from bacterial and viral infections and thus reduces the risk of skin infections like eczema and psoriasis etc.

(4) Aids In Treating Acne

Acne is a common skin problem that affects millions of people around the world and is mainly caused by the accumulation of toxins, pollutants, dirt, impurities, and other unwanted substance within the skin pores.

The dietary fibers in prickly pears eliminate toxins, pollutants, and other impurities from our system.

When there are fewer toxins, they are less likely to accumulate in skin pores, and thus minimizes the risk of acne and pimples.

Dietary fibers also control the secretion of excess oil from skin glands and prevent acne from worsening.

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(5) Protect From Harmful UV Rays of The Sun

Prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays may damage the skin and give rise to wrinkles, leathery skin, liver spots, actinic keratosis, and solar elastosis.

Vitamin C and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, flavonoids, etc in the prickly pears protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays and minimizes the risk of skin cancer. 

Topical application of raw prickly pears helps in treating skin burn and suntan etc. 

(6) Maintains Skin Health

Prickly pear help in maintaining skin health because of its rich nutritious profile

Vitamin C and other antioxidantal compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols etc protect our skin from free radical damage and provide anti-aging benefits.

Dietary fibers in prickly pears promote skin detoxification and reduce the risk of acne and pimples.

Other nutrients like vitamins and minerals etc in prickly pear also play an important role in maintaining skin health. 

Beauty Benefits of Prickly Pears For Hair

Some major beauty benefits of prickly pears for hair.

(1) Promotes Hair Growth

Essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, etc in prickly pears nourish our hair follicles and scalp and keep them healthy.

Antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other relevant compounds like phytonutrients and polyphenols protect our hair follicles and scalp from free radical damage and improves scalp health. 

Other nutrients like zinc, iron, folate, and potassium in prickly pears improve blood circulation in the scalp, nourish our hair follicles and scalp, and promote the growth of new hair follicles. 

(2) Reduces Hair Loss

Prickly pears contain several essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, etc that nourish and strengthens our hair follicles.

With stronger hair follicles, the risk of hair loss diminishes automatically.

It also contains several antioxidants and antioxidantal compounds that protect our hair follicles from free radical damage.

Other nutrients like zinc, iron, potassium, B vitamins, and folate, etc also contribute to scalp health and minimizes the risk of hair fall. 

(3) Helps In Treating Scalp Acne

Acne is a common skin problem that affects millions of people around the world and is mainly caused by the accumulation of toxins, pollutants, dirt, impurities, and other unwanted substance within the skin pores.

It can also break out on the scalp and is then known as scalp acne.

The dietary fibers in prickly pears eliminate toxins, pollutants, and other impurities from our system.

When there are fewer toxins, they are less likely to accumulate in skin pores, and thus minimizes the risk of acne and scalp acne.

Dietary fibers also control the secretion of excess oil from skin glands and prevent scalp acne from worsening.

(4) Good For Treating Dandruff

Prickly pears help in treating dandruff, a common scalp problem that affects millions of people around the world and is mainly caused by poor scalp health.

Antioxidants like vitamin C and other relevant compounds like phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids, etc in the prickly pears protect our hair follicles and scalp from free radical damage and make them healthy.

Vitamins and minerals in the prickly pears nourish our hair follicles and scalp, minimize the risk of scalp problems like dandruff, etc.

Disclaimer

This article provides general information about the topic and is not be taken as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice, treatment, and/or diagnosis. Always consult with your doctor before trying out any of the remedies/recipes suggested in the blog post.

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