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The prickly pear; a healthy fruit

The prickly pear; a healthy fruit

By Vanessa Santana.

I was born in the countryside and I do remember being surrounded by cactus.

“Cactus which stings and stains!” as my mother used to say. So it’s hard and dangerous if you pretend to get closer to them

My father taught me how to eat the prickly pear: “Just take one of the thorns from the prickly pear and make circles in the top of the fruit with it, then push it from the bottom with your fingers and voilà!

Amazing bites!

The prickly pear is the fruit which grows on the leaves of the nopal cactus. One of many botanical species which were brought from America to Spain several centuries ago.

Here in the Canary Islands we denominate this fruit as “tuno indio”, but it’s also known as “higo tuno”

It has a cylindrical shape and is covered by thorns. Its pulp is colorful, soft and contains seeds inside.

However, the prickly pear hasn’t been a popular dish in the Canary Islands. Nopal cactus were used for landowners to delimitate their properties. Consequently, they were the main consumers and beneficiaries of this marvellous product.

Nowadays, nopal cactus can be found all around the ravines and rural places from the islands but not too many people collect them.

A natural gift and a wonderful taste! In recent years, its inner characteristics and utilities are being acknowledged by customers and companies.

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Its own anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and rejuvenating properties have restored the value of this fruit

The prickly pear is full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre. That means that it can be used as a healthy snack for those who suffer from obesity and heart diseases.

The main healthy element of this fruit can be found in the mucilage, a viscous vegetable material who contains soluble fibre.

This soluble fibre have some benefits related to avoid the excess of cholesterol in the blood flow, considering that the mucilage acts as a gel which protects the arteries

Is also known that the fibre of the prickly pear can be used to avoid constipation.