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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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      Last Updated on September 20, 2018

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

      Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

      If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

      1. Breathe

      The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

      • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
      • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
      • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

      Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

      2. Loosen up

      After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

      Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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      3. Chew slowly

      Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

      Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

      Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

      4. Let go

      Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

      The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

      It’s not. Promise.

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      Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

      Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

      21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

      5. Enjoy the journey

      Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

      Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

      6. Look at the big picture

      The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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      Will this matter to me…

      • Next week?
      • Next month?
      • Next year?
      • In 10 years?

      Hint: No, it won’t.

      I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

      Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

      7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

      You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

      Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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      8. Practice patience every day

      Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

      • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
      • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
      • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

      Final thoughts

      Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

      Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

      Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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