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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “cactus?” It’s probably spines, weird shapes and deserts. Surprisingly, all these aspects give cacti a bad reputation among food lovers. However, this prickly and unlikely food plant can be an excellent addition to your diet as it packs plenty of nutrients and vitamins.
So, how will your body benefit when you eat cactus? Preliminary evidence indicates that eating cactus can decrease the blood sugar level for individuals with type 2 diabetes. It has also been championed for lessening the unpleasant effects of hangovers thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Regular cactus consumption is a key source of soluble fiber known to reduce oxidation of fat which prevents atherosclerosis.
In this detailed guide, we take a closer look at why incorporating cactus in your diet can improve your health. We will still highlight research studies to support the benefits of cactus on improving the outcomes of different ailments.
1. Cacti Has Anti-Inflammation Properties
Cactus is popularly known for its anti-inflammatory effects on different parts of the body. This means that you can get relief from the symptoms associated with muscle strain, joint pain and arthritis.
Studies have shown that cacti consumption is linked to reduced inflammation markers, particularly the C-reactive protein(CPR). This is a protein your body produces whenever inflammation presents. Higher levels of CPR indicate different health conditions, from cancer to heart problems. Eating cactus can lower the serum CPR levels, which improves the health of individuals suffering from diseases relating to inflammation.
2. Improves Your Digestion
Cactus is a rich source of dietary fiber known for adding bulk to bowel movements. This makes it easier to move contents through your digestive tract. The bulk is also known for stimulating peristaltic motion in your stomach, which reduces constipation and diarrhoea symptoms.
The fiber in the cactus still binds with the digestive bile, helping it leave the body as waste instead of redistributed.
3. Manages Your Cholesterol Level
The cactus fruit and cactus pad are rich in fiber. Therefore, regular consumption means that your body will benefit from reduced cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body fat. You will also reduce the chances of contracting diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke.
4. Features Anti-Cancer Properties
In a recent animal study conducted on mice, cactus showed that it could suppress tumors’ growth. It’s still unclear how cactus achieves the anti-cancer effects, but further research is underway to establish the potential active substances and underlying mechanisms. In a different study, the cactus oil seed showed high polyphenol levels, indicating anti-cancer properties.
The study also showed that cactus is a rich source of Gallic acid, exerting a cytotoxic against the tumor cells from prostate and lung cancer conditions.
5. Cactus Boost Your Metabolism
Cactus is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, thiamin that acts as co-enzymes critical for metabolic actions. The advantage of a healthy organ system is essential in promoting healthy muscle gain and losing weight.
6. Protects Your Heart
There are different components of cactus that make it great for your heart health. First, its high level of fiber helps lower your body’s LDL levels (bad cholesterol in the body). Cactus also contains potassium which can reduce the stress on the cardiovascular system and relaxes the blood vessels.
The cactus plant also has a compound called betalains that can strengthen the endothelial walls of your blood vessels. This, in turn, reduces the chances of having a weak circulatory system.
7. Managing Diabetes
High blood pressure is linked to different conditions, including heart diseases, stroke, and diabetes. Research shows that patients with type 2 diabetes can also benefit from decreased blood glucose levels. Incorporating cactus in your daily diet is crucial in lowering blood sugar, especially for those with diabetes.
Cactus contains pectin, a unique dietary fiber that helps lower blood sugar by decreasing the absorption of sugar in the digestive tract and the stomach. As such, diabetes patients are advised to be cautious not to consume cacti excessively. This is especially the case if you are under medication or planning to go for an operation. It’s still important to seek advice from your healthcare provider when planning to change your dietary habits or take supplements.
8. Help to Protect Your Liver
Regular consumption of cactus juice can significantly reduce the oxidative stress caused by your liver’s compounds. It also exerts hepatoprotective activities, which increase antioxidant activity that is key to eliminating free radicals. It even increases the antioxidant activities of such compounds.
9. Can Help Ease Stomach Ulcers
Eating cactus can help ease your stomach ulcers and treat a condition called ulcerative colitis, a disease characterized by ulcers or tiny open sores on the large intestines.
Study has also shown that cactus can reduce the growth of stomach ulcers in rats. This is primarily attributed to the powerful anti-inflammatory effect of the plant. However, there is currently no human study to prove this benefit. This is why more research needs to be conducted.
10. Great for Your Skin, Hair and Nails
The fruits from the cactus plant have seeds that are popularly known for the oil they produce. The oil’s color ranges from yellow to light green and comes with a nutty smell if you choose to cold press. The cactus seed oil is also non-comedogenic, which means that it won’t leave you feeling greasy and still doesn’t clog your pores.
The other outstanding feature of the oil is richness in vitamins E and linoleic acid. Remember, your body doesn’t produce Linoleic acid, but it’s essential in improving brain function. The seed oil can still improve the appearance of your scar tissue and still lessen sunburn and rosacea.
If your nails are dry and damaged, the chances are that you have nutrient deficiency. The great news is that cactus oil can moisturize your damaged nails because they contain linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid. A combination of these acids and other nutrients such as vitamin c, magnesium, and iron ensures that you’ve got healthy nails.
11. Eases Your Hangover
If you’re looking for ways to ease your hangover, it is high time you thought about eating cactus. Cactus juice, for instance, is one of the safest natural remedies against dry mouth, dizziness, headache, among other symptoms. Notably, consuming cactus won’t prevent your hangover symptoms. Rather, it can reduce their severity to help you get back to your daily routine.
Cactus has calcium, iron and vitamins A, C and E, which reduces inflammation in the body. Research has even established that you’ll have fewer hangover symptoms when you eat cactus after taking some alcoholic drinks. This is because it reduces the inflammation in the body, which is linked to alcohol consumption.
12. Great for Your Immune System
Eating cactus can help in boosting your immune system. Incorporating it into your daily routine will ensure that you’re less prone to illnesses, and your body will be tough enough to fight against disease-causing organisms.
The cactus fruit is also an excellent immune system booster thanks to its abundance in vitamin C, which is vital for your body’s growth. This includes better healing of wounds, repairing body tissues and cartilage, teeth and bone maintenance.
Vitamin C is also responsible for the increased production of white blood cells, which are crucial at eliminating diseases causing organisms.
13. Helps You out in Your Weight Loss Journey
A recent weight loss study on rats using cactus extract supplements showed that rats lost weight by 20%. One of the survey groups was provided diuretic hydrochlorothiazide at 10mg a day. The second was provided with cactus at 240mg a day for a week. The third group acted as the control. From the study, the cactus exerted an antioxidant effect and didn’t deplete minerals from the body.
The cactus fruit is also a rich source of fiber, which means that eating them reduces the chances of constant hunger pangs. Cactus also aids in the elimination of dietary fat by excreting it from the body.
14. Cactus Can Help to Reduce Dark Circles
If you have dark circles around your eyes, it’s probably time you considered incorporating cactus in your diet. The plant is rich in fatty acids, which can help to nourish and brighten your skin. This will help keep the area around your eyes much brighter.
Cactus is more than just an indoor decor plant around your home. It could turn out to be a lifesaver if you understand its health benefits. Today, there’re plenty of health-conscious individuals. This is attributed to the modern era diseases that have resulted in high mortality, including stroke, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Traditionally, cactus plants were used as medicine in different parts of the world. Modern research has also shown that the plant packs plenty of active components and nutrients, helping manage diseases’ prevalence.