Late summer and early fall is Prickly Pear season here in the Southwest. This magenta fruit that replaces the yellow blooms of the cactus’ green nopales offer desert dwellers a treat packed with a unique assortment of nourishment and medicine.
Nutritional Info about the Prickly Pear
The prickly pear fruit is a fine source of magnesium and the amino acid taurine. Both nutrients are cited as vital to brain and heart health.
The fruit is also rich in arterial health, promoting antioxidants and flavanoids. The flavanoids are the secret superhero power of the prickly pear. This purple fruit contains at least 10 flavanoids including: kaempferol, puercetin, kaempferol 3-methyl ether, quercetin 3-methyl ether, narcissin, dihykrokaempferol (aromadendrin, 6), dihydroquercetin and eriodictyol. The prickly pear excels in fighting free radicals that can destroy cell structure.
Prickly pear pads or nopales can be eaten like a vegetable. This part of the fruit is said to level out glucose levels and it’s great for the diabetic diet. The fruit and nopales are a good source of fiber, as well as a great addition to a gentle and effective colon cleansing program.
The prickly pear is low-calorie while offering high levels of Vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. Some cultures have used poultices made from the cactus to fight infection and speed the healing process of wounds.
Finally, the juice of the prickly pear is said to ease muscle pain after your work out.
Prickly Pear Juice
There are over 350 species of cactus that bloom the prickly pear. Depending on which fruit is harvested, the sweet and juicy taste may vary. Juicing the fruit and adding some ice, honey or agave, or other fruits will make a yummy and refreshing treat.
- 1 bunch of red grapes
- 1 lemon
- 2 prickly pears
- Honey or agave to taste
Juice all fruits and add ice to chill.