Yes Cactus! Cactus has been commonly used in the diets of Latin America countries for hundreds of years. Cactus grows easily, and is a common vegetable that adds nutritional value and flavor when added to eggs, salads, soups and other recipes. If the thought of eating cactus makes you quiver, you may reconsider once you consider all of the health benefits it contains.
- Lowers Blood Sugar
High blood sugar can lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Cactus has proven to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels in healthy adults as well as those suffering from diabetes and obesity. Researchers have tested cactus on non-obese subjects who were suffering from high cholesterol. The results of the eight-week study, not only showed a reduction in cholesterol levels, but a reduction in blood sugar levels. The positive effect of Cactus is attributed to its high fiber and pectin content.
- Lowers Cholesterol
Cactus has been proven to lower cholesterol. In a study from France, scientists tested the effects of dehydrated cactus leaf on 68 female patients with metabolic syndrome. After four weeks, LDL, or harmful, cholesterol and triglyceride levels were decreased and HDL, or good, cholesterol levels were raised. Researchers state that cactus should be considered a functional food because it lowers harmful cholesterol levels and significantly reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems.
- Fights Cancer Cells
Cactus contains flavonoids and phenolics — plant compounds that are responsible for improved antioxidant properties. The NCI (National Cancer Institute) explains that antioxidants protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radical damage can lead to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. In a 2009 study when tested against breast, colon, liver, and prostate cancer, cactus’s phytochemical compounds inhibited the growth of cells in all four cancers without harming the of the body’s healthy cells.
- Nutritional Benefits
In addition to the health benefits, cactus offers significant nutritional benefits. Low in calories (14 per 1 cup serving), it makes a great low-calorie addition to any diet. The main vitamins in cactus are vitamins A and C (both antioxidants) and trace amounts of folate and vitamin K. Minerals include calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and phosphorous. Adding cactus to your diet is highly recommended by a variety of industry experts.