Prickly pear is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae. It originated in America but was later introduced to other regions of the world. Prickly pear provides many health and beauty benefits due to the abundance of essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibers, etc. Despite the benefits provided by prickly pears, eat them in moderation as there are some side effects of overeating prickly pears.
Side Effects of Overeating Prickly Pears
Following are the major side effects of overeating prickly pears.
(1) Too Much Dietary Fiber Is Bad For Stomach
Prickly pears contain dietary fibers, natural laxatives that improve bowel movement and relieve constipation and other gastrointestinal problems like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, indigestion, and flatulence, etc.
However, in large quantities, dietary fibers may over-activate the bowel and cause diarrhea, stomach discomfort, intestinal gas, intestinal blockage, and malabsorption.
Dietary fibers absorb excess water from the intestines.
In excessive quantity, they may absorb more water than required and cause constipation.
(2) May Cause Antioxidants Overload
Prickly pears are loaded with antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin A and other relevant compounds that protect our cells from free radical damage, and reduces the risk of various cancers.
Free radicals are unstabilized ions that stabilize by stealing electrons from neighboring molecules, and doing so causes oxidative damage to them.
At moderate levels, antioxidants only target the cancer cells but in large doses, they may start targeting healthy cells and increase cancer risk.
Smokers who took a high amount of beta-carotene supplements were more likely to develop lung cancer compared to those who didn’t.
(3) Prickly Pears And Blood Sugar
Because of its low glycemic index of 7, prickly pears slowly release sugar into the bloodstream.
This prevents a sudden spike in blood sugar levels and helps in managing diabetes.
Dietary fibers in prickly pears slow down sugar absorption by the bloodstream and keep blood sugar under control.
Despite this benefit, eat prickly pears in moderation as overconsumption may drop blood sugar below the normal range, and cause shakiness, dizziness, excessive hunger, excessive sweating, fast heartbeat confusion, and moodiness.
If you take diabetic medication, eat prickly pears after the doctor’s consultation to ensure there is no food-drug interference risk.
(4) Might Develop Allergic Reactions In Some Individuals
Avoid prickly pears if you are allergic to prickly pears, cactus, or any other species of the cactus family as they may cause allergic reactions.
Some of the common allergic reactions caused by prickly pears are swollen lips and tongue, dryness of the mouth, irritation, and itching in the throat, and skin rashes, etc.
(5) Eating Prickly Pears During Pregnancy
Prickly pears are loaded with essential nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibers, etc.
These compounds are well known for maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Vitamin C and other relevant compounds like flavonoids, etc in pricky pears protect the fetus from free radical damage.
Folic acid in prickly pears promotes the brain development of the fetus and protects from neural tube defects like spina bifida.
prickly pears regulate our blood sugar level and reduce the risk of gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
However, in excessive quantities, dietary fibers in prickly pears may cause digestive problems like indigestion, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, intestinal gas, and intestinal blockage, etc.
To ensure safety, eat prickly pears in moderation and after consulting with a doctor.
If you are on any medication, consult with your doctor to ensure there’s no food-drug interference.
Nursing women should also follow the same precaution, and consult their doctor before adding prickly pears to their diet.
(6) Prickly Pears And Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a silent killer that affects millions around the world and is a leading cause of cardiovascular and other health problems.
The vasodilating properties of potassium in prickly pears relax our blood vessels, improve blood circulation, and provide relief from hypertension or high blood pressure.
Eat prickly pears in moderation as otherwise high potassium levels may drop our blood pressure below the healthy range, and cause dizziness, fainting, nausea, dehydration, lack of concentration, blurred vision, and pale skin, etc.
If you take medication to manage your blood pressure levels, eat prickly pears only after consulting with your doctor to reduce the risk of food-drug intolerance.
(7) Prickly Pears And Weight Management
Moderate intake of prickly pears promotes weight loss because of its low calorific value of 42 calories per 100 grams.
Dietary fibers in prickly pears provide stomach satiety and control overeating, a prime cause of obesity.
If you are consuming prickly pears for weight loss, ensure that they are part of your regular diet and not an addition.
Prickly pears are low in calories and not completely free of calories.
If you overconsume prickly pears, then it may increase your calorie intake.
If you are already eating a balanced diet and getting enough calories, adding more calories ( in the form of prickly pears) will interfere with your weight loss goal.
The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and shouldn’t be considered as 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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Bharat Sharma is a Delhi-based writer who loves reading and writing research-based topics revolving around health, fitness, and nutrition. His love for writing started during his teenage and continues till date. After his graduation, he worked for GE Money, and IBM, but later found his true love i.e. blogging.