Prickly pear or the optinua is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae. It is native to America but was later introduced in many regions of the world. Prickly pear fruit is also known as tuna and is packed with many nutritional compounds like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and dietary fibers etc. Presence of these compounds makes prickly pears very beneficial for us as they provide a number of health and beauty benefits. Although prickly pears are good for us, it is advisable to consume them in moderation. This is because excessive consumption of anything is bad, and the same holds true for the prickly pears. In this article, we will know about the major side effects of overeating prickly pears, but first, let’s take a look at the below-mentioned nutrition chart of prickly pears.
Nutrition Chart of Prickly Pears
Side Effects of Overeating Prickly Pears
(1) Too Much Dietary Fiber Is Bad For Stomach
Consuming prickly pears on a regular and moderate basis is good for our stomach and improves our digestive health.
This benefit of prickly pears is mainly due to the presence of dietary fibers in them.
The dietary fibers present in the prickly pears acts as a natural laxative which means it improves bowel movement and ensures smooth elimination of stool from the system.
This relieves constipation and also provides relief from other gastrointestinal issues such as abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, bloating, and flatulence etc.
Although dietary fibers are good for our digestive health, it is suggested to be on the safe side and enjoy the fruit in moderation.
This is because too many dietary fibers may lead to poor absorption of nutrients, and other problems such as intestinal gas, intestinal bloating, stomach discomfort etc.
Dietary fibers are also known to absorb excess fluid from our system and thus aids in treating diarrhea.
However, a higher intake of dietary fibers without drinking plenty of water may absorb too much water from our system and may give rise to problems like dehydration, indigestion, stomach pain, and discomfort etc.
(2) May Cause Antioxidants Overload
Prickly pears are an excellent source of many antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other antioxidantal compounds such as phytonutrients, polyphenols, and flavonoids etc. in them.
These antioxidants and the other associated compounds present in the prickly pears combats with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells and tissues, and thus reduces the risk of several types of cancers.
It also enhances the production of collagen in our system and thus helps in maintaining elasticity, and keeps various signs of premature aging like fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, dark spots and skin blemishes etc. at bay.
Antioxidants also aid with the skin detoxification and reduce the risk of acne and pimples. They help with the proper elimination of toxins, pollutants and other impurities from our system, and by doing so, they reduce the burden of detoxification from our vital organs like liver and kidneys to some extent.
Antioxidants also provide numerous other benefits such as promotes cardiovascular health, strengthens immunity, improves cognitive functions and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.
Although antioxidants are good for us and provide many benefits, it is advisable to be on the safe side and enjoy the prickly pear fruit in moderation.
This is because the high level of antioxidants in our system is found to do more than damage than the good in our system.
As per a research study conducted by the National Cancer Institute, it was found that smokers who took high doses of beta-carotene supplements on a regular basis were more prone to developing lung cancer in comparison to the people who were not given beta-carotene supplement.
Another study conducted by the office of the dietary supplement found that high doses of vitamin E for a long period of time may increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
This opposite effect of antioxidants is mainly because of their interaction with the free radicals. When antioxidants are taken in moderation then only interacts with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells, and thus reduces the risk of various cancers, and provides numerous other benefits.
However, when the level of antioxidants are high in our system ( even higher than the free radicals of the body) then they first interacts with the free radicals and stabilizes them, and then they start reacting with the healthy cells of the body, and causes oxidative damage to them, and thereby increases the risk of cancers.
(3) Increases The Risk Of Hypoglycemia
This exotic fruit is very beneficial for the diabetic patient and for the individuals who are at the risk of developing diabetes.
This benefit of prickly pears is mainly because of its low glycemic index. Glycemic index is a scale from 0 to 100 that determines the rate at which a particular food will release sugar into the bloodstream.
Prickly pears have a low glycemic index which means it releases sugar into the bloodstream at a slow rate, and prevents a sudden spike in the blood sugar level and thus helps in managing diabetes.
In addition to this, prickly pears also contain dietary fibers that reduce the rate at which sugar gets absorbed by the bloodstream and thus regulates our blood sugar level.
Even though prickly pears are good for the diabetics, it is recommended to be on the safe side and enjoy the fruit in moderation, and after having a word with your doctor.
This is because excessive consumption of prickly pears may lower our blood sugar to a very low level giving rise to hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which our sugar blood sugar level drops down below the normal range and is characterized by the symptoms such as excessive hunger, excess sweating, fainting, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to pins and needles, and palpitation etc.
Additionally, if you are also diabetic patient and already on medication then excessive intake of prickly pears may interfere with the medication and may worsen the situation.
(4) Might Develop Allergic Reactions In Some Individuals
Prickly pears are an excellent source of many nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and dietary fibers etc.
Presence of these nutritional compounds make this very beneficial for us and provides a number of health and beauty benefits.
However, not everyone can enjoy these benefits. Some individuals might be allergic to prickly pears and they should avoid the fruit as otherwise, it may give rise to allergic reactions such as swollen lips and tongue, dryness of mouth, irritation, and itching in the throat, skin rashes etc.
Prickly pears belong to the cactus family, and if you are allergic to a cactus or any other species of the cactus family, then you are highly likely to be allergic to prickly pears too.
(5) Eating Too Many Prickly Pears During Pregnancy
Pregnancy is an important stage in every woman’s life. At this stage, it is very important for her to make sure that she is having a balanced diet full of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants etc. What she consumes in the form of food and drink not only determines her health, but also the health and wellness of the baby developing in her womb.
Prickly pears are rich in vitamins, minerals and other compounds such as antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols, and dietary fibers etc. and the presence of these compounds make them very beneficial for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
The antioxidants like vitamin C and other antioxidantal compounds such as polyphenols and phytonutrients etc. protect the uterus and the fetus developing in it from the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals in our body, and thus helps with the pregnancy.
Free radicals are the unstabilized ions that get formed in our body during the oxidation process. As these are unstabilized, so, they steal electrons from the neighboring molecules and while doing so, it causes oxidative damage to them.
The dietary fibers in the prickly pears act as a natural laxative, improves bowel movement and thus helps with constipation and other gastrointestinal issues like abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating and flatulence etc and thus improves the digestive health of the pregnant lady.
Additionally, prickly pears are also rich in essential nutrients that aids in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Although prickly pear is good during pregnancy, it is suggested to be on the safe side and enjoy the fruit in moderation and after talking with your doctor.
This because too much of dietary fibers may cause stomach discomfort and other digestive issues like intestinal gas, intestinal bloating, flatulence and poor absorption of essential nutrients from the food by our intestines. This could affect pregnancy in a completely negative manner.
Ingesting too many prickly pears even lower the blood sugar level below the normal range, and thereby increases the risk of hypoglycemia in pregnant mothers.
Nursing mothers should also keep an eye on their prickly pear intake as high doses are known to cause stomach discomfort, gas and bloating etc in the mother as well as the infants.
(6) May Cause Hypotension
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a common health condition that affects millions of people around the world and is a leading cause of various cardiovascular problems like heart attack, heart stroke and blockage of arteries etc.
For a healthy living, it is important for us to keep our blood pressure under control and prickly pears can help in doing the same.
This advantage of prickly pears is mainly due to the potassium in it.
Potassium is an essential mineral that acts as a natural vasodilator which means it relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation and thus regulates blood pressure level.
Even though prickly pears are good for regulating blood pressure, it is recommended to be on the safe side and eat them in moderate quantity.
This is because too much of potassium in our system may lower our blood pressure to a very low level and thus gives rise to hypotension.
Hypotension is a condition in which our blood pressure drops down below the normal range and is characterized by the symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, clammy skin, nausea, depression, blurry vision and loss of consciousness.
And, if you are a victim of high blood pressure and already taking medication for the same then excess intake of prickly pears may interfere with the medication and may worsen the situation.
(7) May Lead To Weight Gain
Prickly pears are good for the people who are on a weight loss plan and would like to get rid of some extra pounds.
This weight loss benefit of prickly pears is mainly because of its low caloric value. Eating 100 grams of prickly pears provides around 41 calories which means one can enjoy the fruit in moderation without worrying about the excessive calories.
This fruit is also rich in dietary fibers that keep our stomach fuller for longer duration and decreases our urge to eat again and again and thus controls overeating, which is a prime cause of the obesity.
Although prickly pears are low in calories and are good for weight loss, we should eat this fruit in moderation and keep an eye on the total calorie intake throughout the day.
Excessive consumption of prickly pears may quickly add up more calories to our diet and may increase the risk of weight gain.
Also, if you are already enjoying a balanced diet and getting enough calories required for your daily need, then excessive calories that arise from overeating prickly pears may lead to weight gain.
The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and shouldn’t be considered as a medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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