Suggest to a person they should ‘hug a cactus’ and you are guaranteed to raise some eyebrows. With its piercing, thorny exterior the cactus appears anything but hug-gable. However, people benefit in so many ways from this misunderstood plant that it may be time to think of cactus as a ‘dear friend’.
There are so many different varieties of cactus, each with their own health benefits, that not all of them can be discussed. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on the common variety called Nopal Verde aka the Prickly Pear. So what is the Prickly pear and what can it do for you?
The Prickly Pear is a type of cactus common in the Southwest US and in Mexico. When its thick outer tusk is removed, the cactus may be consumed. In addition to being rich in vitamins and minerals, the Prickly Pear provides the consumer with the following benefits:
1) The Prickly Pear is rich in Polysaccharide fibers and sterols both of which have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol.
2) The Prickly Pear also contains specific phytonutrients which, when introduced to the bloodstream, helps treat patients with type II diabetes.
3) The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory constituents that are common in the Prickly Pear remove and prevent the buildup of blood vessel plaque. By attacking this plaque, Prickly Pear helps to not only prevent artery disease but, indirectly, reduces the risk of heart disease.
4) Since the Prickly Pear is rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers, regular consumption of Prickly Pear guarantees the regular absorption of water and toxins in the digestive track. Such regular absorption helps keep the colon cleansed and bowel movements regular.
5). Prickly Pear is not only useful in dealing with long term health issues but it can also do much to correct short term mistakes. If you had a bit too much to drink and you find yourself saddled the next day with a hangover, Prickly Pear can be nothing less than a ‘knight in shining armor’. The juices of the Prickly Pear soothes the gastro-intestinal tract and alleviates the nausea that often accompanies a hangover. Furthermore, since most of the symptoms of a hangover(ie headache, fatigue, burning eyes) are due to dehydration and Prickly Pear provides fast and effective re hydration, it can be stated that Prickly Pear is an effective slayer of the ‘mighty hangover dragon’
So there you have it, a listing of the health benefits provided by just one type of cactus. So the next time you see a cactus, standing alone in the barren desert, you may wish to say ‘thank you’ or offer an embrace. Despite its rough exterior, the cactus shows its softness toward men in so many ways that benefit our health. Let’s not take it for granted.