Whether you want to call it the prickly glochids or the nopal, we can’t deny the fact that the tuna fruit is highly nutritious.
The fruit grows on the relatively large, flat green stems of the Opuntia cactus, mainly found in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is also popular in Mexico.
It naturally grows green before transitioning to pink or reddish-purple upon maturity. The fruit is considered a superfood thanks to its highly nutritious value.
In fact, a significant number of Mexican cuisines incorporate the native fruit in their recipes. It boasts a naturally sweet flavor and can be used in different desserts. It is generally low in sugars and calories, making it ideal for low-carb and ketogenic diets.
It is rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, which help fight inflammation and keep your immune system quite strong.
Still not convinced to try out the tuna fruit? Read on to discover more health benefits of the fruit.
What Is Tuna Fruit
Before we dive deep into discussing the health benefits of the tuna fruit, let us first understand what we are talking about.
Tuna fruit is one of the most critical ingredients in Mexican cuisine. The fruit has lots of different names, including the cactus fruit, cactus ficus-indica, nopal, Opuntia, Barbary fig, and prickly pear.
It grows from the nopal cactus that is mainly found in hot and dry areas. There are more than 200 different varieties of the Nopal cactus fruit. Some have pink flesh, while others have yellow or white flesh.
The fruit isn’t the only edible part of the nopal cactus. The softy pads known as nopales can also be eaten raw or used in a wide range of savory dishes. The fruits also serve as a healthy addition to salads, scrambled eggs, stews, lasagna, and soups.
Tuna is widely recognized in the medical community as one of the healthiest fruits. In a 2014 review featured in the Molecules Journal, the fruit is highly rich in phytochemicals with antioxidant and neuroprotective effects.
Researchers also believe that the fruit has special chemical elements that protect the human body against germs and bacteria, supports liver health, and fights inflammation. A single serving of the fruit may lower one’s blood sugar levels by up to 48%.
What Are the Health Benefits of the Tuna Fruit?
The tuna fruit is typically considered a superfood, thanks to the many health benefits it offers. It is nutrient-rich and has good benefits for your body. Below are some of the health benefits you get by eating tuna fruit:
1. Aids Digestion
Tuna fruits are highly fibrous and contain a significant amount of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber is a critical element in the digestive process because it adds bulk to the bowel movements making it easier to pass through the relatively smooth muscles of the digestive tract.
It is also responsible for stimulating peristaltic motion to move the bowels along the digestive tract, alleviating symptoms of constipation and diarrhea.
The excess fiber in your body can also play a critical role in reducing the amount of cholesterol hence protecting your heart health as well.
2. Potential Role in Weight Control
The truth is that obesity is a global pandemic that needs to be managed at the earliest. You don’t have to wait until your situation worsens, forcing you to resort to extreme measures such as surgery and harmful medications.
A simple solution to obesity could be consuming a lot of food with plenty of dietary fiber. Tuna fruit not only satisfies your craving for sweet foods but also brings you closer to your weight loss goals.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Nutrition established that cactus fruit consumption could cause a significant reduction in body fat, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. The study further shows that the fruit not only promotes fat/cholesterol loss but also keeps your heart healthy.
Another study published in the BioMed Research International confirmed the beneficial effects of reduced cholesterol levels. High amounts of cholesterol and heart diseases are highly connected.
The Current Therapeutic Research Journal published conclusive results of a clinical trial that assessed the effects of cactus fruit on body weight and body mass index.
According to the researchers, the high amount of dietary fiber in the fruit binds to the dietary fat reducing its absorption, which leads to significant weight loss.
The dietary fiber also suppresses your appetite and increases satiety, making it relatively easy to cut calories and stick to a healthy diet.
3. Regulates Blood Sugar Level
Tuna fruit is highly touted for its hypoglycemic activity. It means that eating it or even its extract can lower your blood sugar levels and maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Different studies on both the anti-diabetic and diabetic rats have shown great success when tuna fruit is used to lower blood sugar levels.
The regulation is usually achieved by decreasing the intestinal absorption of glucose. The fruit’s dietary fiber and pectin content aid in the process.
Once the blood sugar levels are brought back to normal, type II diabetes can be managed quite easily.
4. Improved Heart Health
Tuna fruit consists of several dietary elements that are good for overall heart health. The levels of dietary fiber in the fruit play a critical role in lowering the levels of “bad cholesterol” in your body.
It contains sufficient amounts of potassium that can lower blood pressure by decreasing the stress on your cardiovascular system hence relaxing the blood vessels.
The fruit also contains betalains that help strengthen the endothelial walls of blood vessels, decreasing the weakening or damage to the entire system.
Lowering the blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, and strengthening blood vessels help prevent strokes, coronary heart disease, and atherosclerosis.
5. Protects Against Inflammation
This fruit is also highly valued for its anti-inflammatory properties. Keep in mind that chronic inflammation is a major contributing factor to Crohn’s disease, arthritis, diabetes, allergies, and heart disease.
It also contributes to fatigue, depression, recurrent infections, and chronic pain. Although there is a treatment for chronic inflammation, most drugs have severe side effects that may still affect your health in the long run.
Therefore, before you pop those pills in the hope they will heal your chronic inflammation, consider changing your diet. Replacing your daily snacks with tuna fruit is a good start.
In a 2018 study published in the Food & Nutrition Research Journal, cactus fruit may help reduce inflammation.
In one of the studies, individuals who consumed tuna fruit at least twice per day reported experiencing a major reduction in their inflammation. Their antioxidant levels also reduced dramatically.
Scientists attributed the results to the antioxidants and vitamins that occur naturally in tuna fruit. Kaempferol, beta-carotene, and betanin are some of the antioxidants found in cactus fruits.
These nutrients are responsible for improving your body immunity, offsetting the harmful effects of inflammation, and boosting your antioxidant intake.
6. Helps to Build Strong Bones and Teeth
Calcium is an essential part of the human diet, and tuna fruit contains a significant amount of the nutrient in every serving.
Calcium plays a critical role in the creation of bone tissue. In fact, 99% of all the calcium in the human body is found in bones and teeth.
By ensuring you have sufficient calcium intake from your daily diet, you can avoid experiencing a wide range of dental issues and age-related bone disorders such as osteoporosis.
7. Gets Rid of Hangover
Are you wondering how you can recover from a hangover? Reach out for a cup of tuna fruit juice and wait for the results.
The juice is widely regarded as a safe and natural remedy for dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, and a wide range of other hangover symptoms. In fact, tuna fruit juice is one of the few hangover relievers backed by science.
While tuna fruit juice doesn’t cure hangover symptoms, it can reduce their severity and make you feel much better. It contains essential nutrients that lower inflammatory markers in your bloodstream, which helps alleviate the side effects of alcohol consumption.
Therefore, if you plan a night out and fancy consuming alcohol while avoiding the hangover that comes with it, drink a glass or two of tuna fruit juice before you step out.
The glass of juice will help you cut the risk of a severe hangover by almost half. However, you need to keep in mind that alcohol consumption is generally unhealthy. Therefore, if you drink, make sure you drink responsibly.
8. Improves Sleep
Lastly, tuna fruit can also help you sleep better. The cactus fruit contains magnesium, an essential mineral that stimulates sleep feelings for individuals suffering from insomnia, restlessness, or long-lasting anxiety.
The fruit stimulates the release of serotonin, resulting in increased levels of melatonin levels. It also provides a sedative effect decreasing nerve function and calming your body.
A combination of all these factors helps you to fall asleep.
So, have you had a chance to try the tuna fruit or its juice? Have you eaten one of those delicious Mexican dishes prepared with tuna fruit as one of the ingredients? Were they tasty? Did you love eating them?