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7 Surprising Health Benefits Of Eating Cactus

7 Surprising Health Benefits Of Eating Cactus

Deserts, sand, tumbleweeds and needles – that’s what comes to mind when you hear about cactus and it’s got a pretty bad rep among food lovers for the same reasons. Surprisingly, this prickly food is one of the healthiest things you can include in your daily diet, for it is rich in vitamins and nutrients while also serving a lot of additional benefits. Nopales (the cactus leaf, scientifically called Opuntia) is a food staple in Latin America served mostly with eggs, and salads because of its health benefits.

Rich in phyto-nutrients, cactus adds plethora of fiber to the body when consumed while also helping to reduce cholesterol and decrease sugar level to prevent diabetes. Even if you don’t live in the Wild West or don’t grow cactus at home, it’s readily available in markets and organic stores all over the country in sliced and diced or juiced and jam form to consume at your need.

Check out 7 surprising health benefits of eating cactus.

1. It lowers cholesterol

Cactus leaf has been found to lower cholesterol level in the body in research done at the University of Vienna. Researchers in France verified the same effect on 68 women, who after four weeks saw a decreased level of cholesterol and triglyceride levels in their body. This functional food is also related with the reduction of risks involved with heart problems.

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2. It cures diabetes

Elevation of the blood sugar level in the body leads to several illness including diabetes, stroke and heart diseases. Eating cactus leaf helps to decrease the blood sugar level in patients suffering from obesity and diabetes. Research done at the University of Vienna among 24 non-obese patients who consumed cactus leaf showed an 11 percent decrease in blood sugar level which proves its benefit to patients suffering from diabetes.

3. It fights cancer

Phenolics and flavonoids, two compounds with antioxidant properties are found to be contained by cactus leaf. These antioxidants help to protect healthy cells from damage by free radicals that are related with cardiovascular diseases and cancer. In the June 2009 issue of “Plant Food for Human Nutrition”, it has been reported that cactus pear’s phytochemical compounds slowed growth of the cells in the colon, liver, breast and prostate cancer without having a negative impact on healthy cells.

4. It improves digestion

Eating cactus has also helped to improve the digestion process in humans. Nopales, helps in reducing cellulites while also enhancing the ability to retain water in the body to speed up bowel movement. This fiber rich food reduces carcinogens and enhances digestive health in humans.

5. It helps to reduce weight

Cactus is a low calorie food rich in amino acid, vitamins and minerals, which makes it beneficial for weight loss. Containing 17 amino acids, 8 being essential, it provides a good amount of energy and serves 16 calories per every 100g intake.

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6. It protects brain cells from damage

The steam and fruits of cactus has a compound quercetin 3-methyl, flavonoid which is considered as a powerful neuro-protector. This neuro-protector safeguards the neuron cells in the brain, thereby protecting brain cells from damage.

7. It reduces inflammation

Cactus is also said to possess anti-inflammation properties that fights against burns in muscles, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract and arteries. It has been found to possess bio-flavonoid quercetin which neutralizes cell damaging compounds and serves as analgesic with its anti-inflammatory properties. It also contain anti-ulcer properties that fight edema and restrict leukocyte migration.

How can we eat cactus?

Now that you know the benefits of eating cactus, you might be wondering how you can prepare cactus in your daily diet to stay healthy. Cactus pads and pear and cactus fruits are readily edible, however, they can be dry and woody in some cases making it bland while eating. There are several ways you can prepare cactus according to your taste and requirement, but some favorite ways are mentioned here below.

1. Grilled Cactus Pads

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Fried Cactus Pad

    Required: 1 pound cactus leaves, olive oil

    This can be a interesting meal to cook. All you need is a pound of cactus leaves and olive oil to prepare the grilled cactus pads. Scrub the cactus leaves and remove spines if present. Also cut the spined nodules with a potato peeler and remove all of them. Now, grill the leaves over wood fire or charcoal for 10 to 12 minutes and brush the leaves with oil occasionally on both sides while grilling.

    2. Scrambled Eggs Arizona Style

    Scrambled Eggs Arizona Style

      Required: 1 or 2 cactus leaves, 8 eggs, 1/4 pound cheese, Salt and pepper to taste

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      Another recipe including cactus is scrambled eggs Arizona style. You need to peel off the spiney nodules and scrub the cactus leaves before slicing them into small pieces. Now fry the leaves with butter for about 5 minutes and put it off the heat. Remove eggs from their shells and stir with shredded cheese in a mixing bowl together with cooked cactus leaves. Scramble it and serve warm.

      Featured photo credit: Prickly Pear Opuntia via pixabay.com

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      Grishma Giri

      Grishma Giri is a passionate writer who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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      Last Updated on January 11, 2021

      11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

      11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers

      Affordable, relaxing, and healthy, oil diffusers are gaining popularity with people everywhere due to their extensive benefits. Oil diffusers work through the simple process of oil diffusion, which uses heat to turn oil into a vapor that is then spread around a living space. Diffused oil can have several relaxation and health-related benefits, including safe scent-dispersion, mosquito and mold defense, stress relief, and more!

      Read on for 11 hidden benefits of using oil diffusers.

      1. Safe Scents That Make Sense

      Unlike candles or air fresheners, oil diffusers release cleansing molecules into your air that work to purify it, not overload it with unhealthy chemicals. Electronic diffusers also do not pose the fire risk that candles do. Plus, they contain the added feature of interchangeability, which means you change oil types for different scents and health benefits.

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      2. Stress Relief

      Several lab studies have confirmed that diffusing essential oils like lavender have been shown to reduce stress and help relieve anxiety in medical patients. Preliminary studies have also shown that oil diffusers can help alleviate symptoms of depression.

      3. Improved Sleep

      Diffused oil has relaxing properties that can help people of all ages fall asleep quicker and sleep more soundly. Electronic diffusers not only have the option to mix and match different oil blends (Try a lavender, Bulgarian rose, and Roman chamomile blend to help with insomnia), they also run at a gentle hum that helps relax an agitated mind. Many also come with an auto shut-off feature to help conserve oils once you have fallen asleep.

      4. Appetite Control

      Much like gum, oil diffusers can help stimulate the senses in a way that works to curb appetite. New research has shown that diffused peppermint oil can help curb appetite by inducing a satiety response within the body. Diffused peppermint oil has also been shown to increase energy.

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      5. Bacteria and Mold Killing

      When essential oils are diffused in the air, they break down free radicals that contribute to the growth of harmful bacteria. Eucalyptus, thyme, and tea tree oils are especially good for this purpose. Diffused oil is also highly effective when it comes to combating fungal yeast threats, as the oil help makes the air inhospitable for yeasts such as mold. Pine and red thyme essential oils are best for combating mold.

      6. Decongestion and Mucus Control

      Ever tried Vick’s Vapo-Rub? Its decongesting powers come from active ingredients made from the eucalyptus tree. In principle, oil diffusers work the same way as Vapo-Rub, except they diffuse their decongesting vapor all around the room, not just on your chest or neck. Oil diffusers have been known to cure pneumonia in lab mice.

      7. Mosquito Repellant

      Nobody likes mosquitoes — but when the trade-off means using repellants full of DEET, a toxic chemical that can be especially harmful to children, mosquito control can often seem like a lose-lose. However, scientists have shown that oil diffusers can be used as a safe and highly effective mosquito repellant. Studies have shown that a diffused oil mixture containing clove essential oil and lemongrass essential oil repelled one type of Zika-carrying mosquito, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, at a rate of 100%.

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      8. Pain Relief

      While applying oils directly to areas of your body may be the most effective way to alleviate pain, diffusing essential oils can also be an effective means of pain relief. When we inhale healthy essential oils, they enter our blood stream and can help internally relieve persistent pain from headaches, overworked muscles, and sore joints.

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      Research into the anti-viral effects of oil diffusion is now just gaining steam. A recent study showed that star anise essential oil was proven in medical experiments to destroy the herpes simplex virus in contained areas at a rate of 99%. Another study showed the popular DoTerra oil blend OnGuard to have highly-effective influenza-combating powers.

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      Diffusing essential oils has also been shown to improve cognitive function. Many essential oils have adaptogenic qualities, which can work twofold in soothing us when we’re stressed, and giving our bodies a pick-me-up when we’re feeling down or sluggish. By working to level out an imbalanced mood, diffused oils also help us to focus. There are also several essential oils which have been shown to help balance the body’s hormones. With prolonged use, these oils can work to repair the underlying causes responsible for hindering cognitive function.

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      11. Money Saving

      With ten clear benefits of oil diffusers already outlined, there is one more that should now be obvious: using an oil diffuser will help you to save money. As an anti-viral, bug repelling, and stress-relief solution rolled into one safe product, an oil diffuser used with the proper oils will save you money on products you might otherwise be buying to help cure those pesky headaches or get your kids to fall asleep on time. If you’re wondering just how affordable oil diffusers can be, check the buyer’s guide to the best oil diffusers — you’ll be sure to find one that fits your budget!

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