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Prickly Pear, or Cactus Pear fruit, is a fruit of the Cactaceae (Cactus) family that is commonly used in Southern America, Mexico, and Spain as an edible plant.
It seems to show benefit in usage against the state of diabetes and high blood cholesterol, but its benefits seem only therapeutic. Interventions with healthy persons do not show the same benefit as with diabetics, suggesting that usage of prickly pear as preventative medicine may be misguided.
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Opuntia ficus-indica, Cactus Pear Fruit, Sicilian Prickly Pear, Prickly pear, Nopal cactus
Recommended dosage of Prickly Pear Fruit is the whole fruit, typically 200g or above. It is unsure what dosage of prickly pear supplements should be at this moment in time.
The cactus pear fruit is a member of the Cactaceae family and is a common vegetation in Mexico, the Mediterranean, and much of Southern America. They come in a variety of colors ranging from red to yellow to white, which is due to varying combinations of the red-purple pigment betalain and the yellow-orange pigment indicaxanthin.
Cactus Pear Fruit contains:
Yellow cactus pear is much higher in betanin pigments, whereas red fruits are higher in indicaxanthin. The former can reach ratios of 1:8 Betanin:Indicaxanthin whereas the latter can reach 2:1 ratios. White fruits tend to have the greatest anti-oxidant fighting capabilities.
Cactus pear fruit (specifically, the species Opuntia Ficus Indica), in the dose of 500g of the fruit, appears to be able to reduce post-prandial (after meal) blood sugar levels. The compound(s) causative of the benefit appear to not be affected by varying preparation methods and seem to be heat stable up to 60°C and is the Cactus Fruit more commonly used in meal preparation.
The less palatable species Opuntia streptacantha has a well established role as being protective against diet-induced diabetes by controlling blood sugar levels.|published=1989 Apr-Jun|authors=Frati-Munari AC, Del Valle-Martínez LM, Ariza-Andraca CR, Islas-Andrade S, Chávez-Negrete A|journal=Arch Invest Med (Mex)] However, these beneficial effects may not occur in healthy persons and supplemental forms typically underdose.|published=1992 Jul-Aug|authors=Frati Munari AC, Vera Lastra O, Ariza Andraca CR|journal=Gac Med Mex]
Cactus pear appears to be able to reverse suppression of the LDL receptors in the liver that are commonly expressed in cases of high cholesterol. It does not affect cholesterol absorption from the diet like many soluble fibers but seems to be able to reduce serum cholesterol vicariously through the formerly described mechanism.
In a comparitive study against vitamin C (a standard of which anti-oxidants are tested against), Cactus pear fruit (250g pulp) was able to beneficially affect various markers of oxidation whereas vitamin C was not.
Cactus pear fruit appears to possess anti-viral properties.
(Common misspellings for Prickly Pear Fruit include prick, prikly, prickley, opentia, caktus, kactus, kaktus, sisilian, frut)
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