What do you think about when you hear the word cactus? It is a prickly plant covered with needles. Many people do have cactuses at their home, because of their lovely flowers. But nevertheless, we are always advised to be careful when in close proximity to a cactus plant. What if we say that cactuses can be consumed as food? Would you believe us? Well, every bit of it is true. Don’t worry, we are not talking about the cactuses you see as home-based plants. However, there are certain varieties of cactuses that are edible. One such variety is the prickly pear cactus.
Prickly pear cactus is an edible cactus plant. It is usually found in dry regions and is also known by names like Indian fig opuntia, nopal, cactus pear etc. The flowers of this plant develop into the fruits that are considered edible. In this article, we will discuss in extensive details about what this fruit is all about, its benefits and side effects( if any) and whether it is safe to eat during pregnancy or not.
Benefits of Consuming Prickly Pear Cactus During Pregnancy
Helps in Weight Loss
Prickly pear is high on fibre and low on calories. Fibre is not only important for your gut health and healthy digestion, but it also makes you feel full for quite a long time. Therefore, this fruit is great for those, who are trying to lose or maintain their weight.
Prickly pear is anti-inflammatory, helps in boosting the immune system and has loads of anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants neutralise the free radicals, which means that you will have a less chance of developing cancerous cells. These anti-oxidants also prevent heart disease; Alzheimer’s and prevent eye diseases too.
Prickly pear is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is beneficial for boosting and maintaining your immunity and is also good for your eyes, skin and hair.
For lactose intolerant people and vegans, prickly pear is no less than a blessing. It contains healthy amounts of calcium, which helps in strengthening your bones and teeth and prevents them from decaying.
Helps in Controlling Blood Sugar Levels
Prickly pears are rich in fibre. Soluble fibre helps in maintaining as well as lowering the blood sugar levels. Because it is low on calorie as well, therefore, it is a great natural medicine for diabetic people.
Side Effects of Consuming Prickly Pear Cactus
There have been no major side effects discovered so far. There are countless benefits of consuming prickly pear. It is a staple part of Mexican American cuisine and even has medicinal uses. However, everything might not work for everyone. Prickly pear cactuses might cause diarrhoea, nausea and other uncomfortable things in some people. Of course, just because it is a beneficial fruit does not imply that one should consume it in unusually large amounts. Doing that may lead to intestinal blockage.
Is it safe to eat during pregnancy?
The diet of a pregnant woman should include all nutrients in equal proportions. Anything that is processed or contains chemicals and junk of any kind should be strictly avoided. Also, certain foods pose risks and complications during pregnancy, so even they should be avoided. After that, depending on the expectant mother’s health and the growth and development of the child, certain foods should be included or discarded.
Although it has been discussed and proved that prickly pear cactuses have certain nutritional benefits, we do not have enough information to substantiate whether they are safe to eat during pregnancy or not. Sufficient research hasn’t been done on their benefits and side effects during pregnancy. Although it has been an integral part of Mexican and American cuisine for a long time, it has not yet been proved whether it is really beneficial for the mother and child or not. Hence, we would strongly advise you to consult a doctor before including this fruit in your diet.
If the doctor recommends this fruit, then you can have it in a variety of ways. You can chop it and include it in your fruit salad. Or you can deseed it and make a drink out of it. You can also include it in your vegetable curry or soups. Just make sure that it is cooked properly before consumption, It is really important to see how foods are cooked and consumed while you are pregnant because it affects both you and your baby.