This arid fruit, which is indigenous to the southwest of the United States, is the star of Finest Call Prickly Pear Syrup. Both its beautiful color and the somewhat tangy flavor it gives your margaritas are genuine. 16% juice extracted from certain pears.
How healthy is prickly pear syrup?
Prickly pear’s fiber and antioxidant levels are mostly responsible for its alleged health advantages. Although there aren’t many studies on prickly pear’s ability to improve health in humans, early research points to positive effects.
By binding to dietary fat, boosting its excretion, and lowering energy intake, the fiber in prickly pear cactus plants may help people lose weight (8, 9).
In comparison to a placebo, taking two 500 mg cactus fiber tablets three times daily (for a total of three grams of cactus fiber daily) increased fecal fat excretion by a significant amount in a research involving 20 healthy people (9).
The findings, according to the study’s authors, provide evidence that cactus fiber may aid in weight loss by lowering the amount of dietary fat that is accessible for absorption. However, they did not track the individuals’ weight decrease (9).
However, other research on the capacity of cactus fiber tablets to boost fecal fat excretion has monitored weight reduction. According to a 12-week trial, taking cactus fiber supplements increased weight loss compared to taking a placebo (8).
These studies’ findings are intriguing, but it’s crucial to remember that they didn’t examine the fruit itself but rather fiber tablets made from the prickly pear cactus plant.
You might see similar weight reduction advantages because a normal prickly pear fruit has more than three grams of fiber and is relatively low in calories. To fully grasp how eating prickly pear may aid in weight management, more research is necessary (4).
Skin and hair
Eating prickly pears is frequently promoted as a way to achieve lustrous skin and hair. Even hair conditioners and skin care products contain prickly pear variations.
Vitamin C and betalain pigments, two of its constituents and minerals, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are important for the health of the skin and hair, are present in prickly pears, notably in the seeds and peel (10, 11).
A small study with 18 healthy people found that taking 250 grams of prickly pear fruit pulp twice daily for two weeks increased blood levels of the antioxidant vitamins C and E and decreased oxidative stress in a manner similar to that of a vitamin C pill (10).
By preventing damage to these regions brought on by oxidative stress brought on by aging, inflammation, sun exposure, or other reasons, the antioxidant boost from prickly pear may enhance the health of your skin and hair (12, 13).
However, no research have particularly addressed the advantages of prickly pear for skin or hair. As a result, there is little evidence to support the theory that the antioxidant-rich prickly pair guards against hair and skin damage.
However, topical prickly pear applications for skin have been tested, but not for hair.
Oil extracted from prickly pear seeds was discovered to have antibacterial effects against skin infections and wound-healing capabilities in a study on test tubes and mice (14).
It is uncertain whether eating prickly pear fruit or applying prickly pear oil directly to human skin would offer comparable advantages for skin health. Overall, not enough research has been done on the advantages of prickly pear for skin and hair.
The usage of prickly pear in the treatment of diabetes problems and blood sugar control is another potential advantage.
Prickly pears’ soluble fiber pectin may have the ability to reduce blood sugar and improve blood fat levels (15, 16).
Prickly pear eating may reduce fasting blood sugar levels and post-meal insulin levels in both healthy persons and those with type 2 diabetes, according to some preliminary human research (15).
However, the results have been conflicting, and it appears that the intake method and plant portion used have a significant impact on the effects of prickly pears.
Consuming the flat pads of the prickly pear cactus resulted in appreciable drops in blood sugar and insulin levels, according to an analysis of 20 human trials. Blood sugar levels were not significantly affected by the prickly pear fruit (15).
However, when it comes to heart health, prickly pear fruit may be more advantageous than the pads. High levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL “bad cholesterol” are common in patients with type 2 diabetes, which may raise the risk of heart disease (17, 18).
Another systematic evaluation of 11 trials encompassing both healthy persons and those with type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases found that eating prickly pear fruit may significantly lower total and LDL cholesterol levels (17).
Cactus pads or powders derived from this section of the plant, however, did not seem to have the same favorable benefits on blood fat levels (17).
More study is required to determine the best dosage and type of prickly pear for controlling blood sugar and lowering blood fat levels.
Some contemporary research support the use of prickly pear to treat liver issues, which has been done historically.
It is believed that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of prickly pear help guard against oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which can harm the liver (11).
Eating prickly pear cactus may prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to one study in obese rats, in part through reducing oxidative stress (19).
By boosting antioxidant status and avoiding oxidative damage brought on by alcohol, a second study in mice revealed that prickly pear juice aids in the prevention of liver damage brought on by chronic alcohol usage (20).
People who drink alcohol may get comparable effects from prickly pears. An extract from the cactus plant taken before consuming alcohol reduced hangover symptoms and blood signs of inflammation more than a placebo, according to a study on 55 healthy adults (21).
To learn more about how prickly pear affects liver health in humans, more research is necessary. It’s also not apparent whether eating prickly pear fruit has advantages similar to those of eating other plant parts.
Prickly pear may aid in weight loss, support healthy skin and hair, lower blood sugar and blood fat levels, and protect the liver, according to studies. However, more study is required.
What stores sell prickly pears?
The Cactaceae (Cactus) family includes the eastern prickly pear. There are around 1,800 species in this family, all native to the New World with the possible exception of one or two. With over 150 species in the genus Opuntia, the prickly pears are regarded as an ancient subgroup of the cactus family. It can be found from New Mexico and Montana east to Florida and Massachusetts, and it has the broadest distribution of any American cactus. Additionally, Ontario has it. Eastern prickly pears can grow in a region in big colonies or as a few lone plants. It is frequently referred to as Opuntiacompressa in older botanical manuals.
This species is a typical cactus with a stalk that performs photosynthetic leaf function. Water is also kept in this stem. It can endure the subfreezing conditions of the northern and middle states thanks to specific antifreeze compounds in its cells. The stems, or pads as they are more commonly known, can range in size from 4 to 12 centimeters (1.5 to 5 inches) in width and 5 to 17 centimeters (2 to 7 inches) in length. Pads can be joined in a branching or linear pattern.
Typically, the plants stretch out on the ground and grow little taller than 19 inches (0.5 meters). Some shrub-like plants in Florida can grow up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) tall.
Areoles, which resemble little dots, are scattered throughout the pads. Each areole has glochids (tiny barbs that hurt and irritate the skin when inserted), and the middle of the areole may or may not have a spine. At the tip of newly formed or actively expanding pads, there may occasionally be a little green structure paired with each areole. These are genuine leaves, but they will soon disappear.
Early summer sees the production of flowers at the ends of the pads. They are typically yellow, although the center of them is frequently crimson to orange east of the Appalachian Mountains and on dunes. In contrast to some other species, including the Indian Fig, Opuntia ficus-indica, the flesh of the reddish fruits is edible but typically not very sweet.
This cactus typically grows on calcareous rock or thin soil in wide-open, arid environments. It grows in or on fencerows, roadsides, prairie, rocky glades, rock outcrops, cliffs, abandoned quarries, and dunes. Well-drained grounds are essential since the roots need to remain dry during the winter to avoid decay.
What uses does prickly pear nectar have?
Prickly pear concentrate at 100%. To 8 ounces of juice or water, add 1 teaspoon. Not Added Sugar. Taste of strawberry and watermelon Antioxidant prickly pear nectar is recognized to provide health advantages addressing blood sugar, blood pressure, weight loss, and more. Vanadium, magnesium, and other minerals help keep your electrolytes balanced while chromium and vanadium help keep your hunger under control. Prickly pears are processed differently at Arizona Cactus Ranch since water is not used to dilute them. Fruit is harvested from a farm, cleaned, and placed in a machine that extracts only the pulp and juice of prickly pears while removing the skins, seeds, and stickers. Without any additional water or juice, the extract is concentrated in a kettle.
Is prickly pear syrup required to be chilled?
Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast was written by Hank Shaw. He chats to Evan this week on Good Food about finding prickly pears in Los Angeles. Hank enjoys using the fruit he forages to make prickly pear syrup. Here is a recipe.
Commercially available varieties of this syrup are fantastic for elegant margaritas and for drizzling over pancakes. To maintain the authenticity of the flavors in this recipe, I highly recommend purchasing citric acid. It is frequently labeled as Fruit Fresh in the supermarket’s canning section. Additionally, it’s available at home-brew supply shops.
This recipe is a how-to manual. Use your taste buds and common sense to alter the ratio as necessary because prickly pears—and other fruits, for that matter—come in all shapes and degrees of sweetness. Always keep in mind that the basic syrup composition calls for an equal volume of liquid (fruit pulp and water) to sugar. Wash your countertops, any plastic containers, and cutting board constantly when working with prickly pears because the juice stains everything horribly.
The pulp from the peeled prickly pears should be pureed in a food processor. It should only take a minute or so. You’ll need to filter away a lot of the seeds that will be banging around in there. To do this, pour the blender’s contents into a big bowl after passing them through a colander, food mill, or coarse sieve.
Push the bowl’s contents through a fine-mesh strainer to produce a clear syrup; for an exceptionally clear syrup, strain it through cheesecloth. About three cups of juice should be consumed.
Place the sugar and juice in a large pot. Add an equal amount of granulated sugar to your prickly pear juice to create a syrup that will be shelf stable. You can reduce the amount of sugar if you prefer things to be less sweet, but the syrup will not keep as long and will need to be chilled.
Over medium heat, gradually bring the sugar and juice to a simmer. After 5 minutes of simmering, stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture is warm enough to taste without your tongue getting burned, turn off the heat and let it cool for 20 minutes. A little at a time, while tasting as you go, add citric acid. Stop when it becomes too tart for you.
Pour while still warm into sterile Mason jars, then cover with a fresh, unused lid. This should keep for several months in the refrigerator, or if you want to store it in the pantry, you can treat it in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. To achieve this, add water to a pot big enough to accommodate the syrup jar. I use a vegetable steamer to place something in the pot to prevent the jar from contacting the bottom. The syrup jar should be submerged in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Take the jar out and place it on the chopping board. When the jar is properly sealed, your lid should pop at some time.
Check the seal by unscrewing the rim, leaving only the lid, once the syrup has totally cooled. Pick up the jar carefully by the lid only. It ought to stick. If not, try again with a different lid or put it in the refrigerator.
What flavor does prickly pear syrup have?
Prickly pear flavor has been compared by some who have had the good fortune to try it to a stunning blend of watermelon and traditional bubble gum (via Spoon University). While not overbearing, the bubble gum flavor gives this fruit just enough kick to transform it into a mind-blowingly delectable treat. According to the cuisine blog The Other Side of the Tortilla, the seeds of the prickly pear are also entirely edible.
Fortunately, the Mayo Clinic reports that the vivid pink prickly pear has a ton of fantastic health advantages. Thanks to anti-inflammatories and antioxidants, the luscious meat is packed with vitamins and nutrients that have been linked to lowering cholesterol, preventing diabetes, and perhaps even treating nasty hangovers. Additionally, it contains potassium, which aids in promoting healthy digestion and cardiovascular and metabolic function (via WebMD). Additionally, prickly pears are a component of various skincare, haircare, and cosmetic products.
Consider giving prickly pears a try if you’re looking for a new fruit to try. It’s gorgeously colored, deliciously juicy, a lot of fun to make and eat, and generally healthy.
Possibly Effective for…
- Diabetes. In certain people, a single dose of prickly pear cactus can lower blood sugar levels by 17% to 46%. It is unknown, though, if prolonged daily use may reliably lower blood sugar levels. One variety of prickly pear cactus (Opuntia streptacantha) has roasted stems that may help persons with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels. However, this species’ raw or unprocessed stems don’t seem to be effective. Other varieties of the prickly pear cactus don’t seem to work either.
- Hangover. Before consuming alcohol, taking prickly pear cactus may lessen some hangover symptoms the next day. It appears to considerably lessen dry mouth, anorexia, and nausea. Other hangover symptoms including headache, dizziness, diarrhea, or discomfort do not appear to be lessened by it, either.
Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…
- prostate enlargement Men who have an enlarged prostate frequently feel that their bladder is full and have frequent, severe urogenital urges. Taken orally, powdered prickly pear cactus blossoms may help to lessen these symptoms, according to emerging research.
- high cholesterol that is inherited (familial hypercholesterolemia). According to preliminary studies, people with hereditary high cholesterol can lower their total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels by ingesting the edible pulp of the prickly pear cactus everyday for four weeks while also following a diet.
- high cholesterol levels. According to preliminary studies, consuming prickly pear cactus edible pulp daily while adhering to a diet can lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels in patients with high cholesterol. The level of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, does not appear to be impacted.
- metabolic disorder According to preliminary research, women with metabolic syndrome who take a special supplement comprising dried prickly pear cactus leaves (NeOpuntia) daily for six weeks do not experience any changes in their blood fat levels.
- treating virus-based illnesses
- other circumstances
To assess the effectiveness of prickly pear cactus for various uses, more data are required.
According to the following scale, the effectiveness of natural medicines is rated by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).
When used as food, prickly pear cactus is LIKELY SAFE. When used orally as medication in the right dosages for a brief length of time, the prickly pear cactus’s leaves, stems, flowers, fruit, and standardized extracts are POSSIBLY SAFE.
Mild diarrhea, nausea, an increase in the volume and frequency of stools, bloating, and headaches are some of the negative effects that the prickly pear cactus can produce.