The Prickly Pear is a Peruvian favorite, known here as the ‘Tuna’. The exotic fruit is plucked from a Cactus, and stocked in wheelbarrows along the sidewalks of Trujillo. These days, the Tuna is found in every fruit stand I pass along the street. The two most common colors are white and magenta, I am personally partial to the later.

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Pottery of the Moche People suggests they enjoyed the fruit almost 1,000 years ago

This dessert rose provides an abundance of micro-nutrients. Think endurance and self-sustainability. The Prickly Pear, the Tuna, or the Opuntia ficus-indica has developed a means to survive in harsh desert climate. Subsequently, the Tuna carries a strong mucilage that reserves water and calcium content at a cellular level during long droughts. The Tuna provides a complex cocktail of micro-nutrients such as Phytochemicals – flavonoids and phenolics. The Tuna is an impressive afternoon snack.

The Benefits:

These babies are stocked with Vitamins:

The Tuna is most appreciated for its content of Vitamin C. It also contains phosphorus, copper, calcium, potassium, selenium and zinc. All essential minerals which help create and maintain good health.

Good source of Carotenoids:

Betanin, the same red pigment found in beet root, reduces chances of cancer and lowers stress. Tuna also contains other carotenoids which are good for eyesight, possible anti-tumor properties, skin health, male fertility and the cardiovascular system.

Cardiovascular system health.

The Tuna has been studied to control blood sugar levels. Soluble fibers found in its mucilage increase viscosity of food as it passes through the intestines. This slows down and reduces sugar absorption in the gut. Many studies have been done which test the power of Tuna’s impact on people who suffer from Type2 Diabetes.

Eases symptoms of diarrhea

IMG_4937If you happen to find yourself ‘mal de estomago’ grab a Powerade, and a few tuna and you will be back to good in no time. Research on plant extracts shows the plant acts as an aid to the gut lining through protecting gastric mucosal layers. Powerful stuff.

 Reduces cholesterol and promotes weight loss.

The watery fruit is full of fiber which provides a more satiable snack. While curbing the appetite, and reducing sugar intake, research shows participants of studies produced a higher fat count in fecal matter. This suggests the fruit is a good source of fat-binding fiber. It rids your system of the bad (LDL), and leaves it with the good (HDL).

Pharmaceutical studies show the plant extracts to have an arrangement of medicinal properties from anti-inflammatory disease to metabolic syndromes such as diabetes and obesity.

In short, this is a great fruit for building a healthy metabolism.

While on the inside, the fruit is soft and sweet, take caution if handling with a ‘raw paw’. If you have the chance, snag a bag of pre-peeled fruit, you’ll save yourself the angst of plucking hair sized needles from your fingertips.

“Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don’t pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don’t need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
Have I given you a clue?

The bare necessities of life will come to you
They’ll come to you.”

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Further Reading:

LR, Redacción. “La Tuna Y Sus Beneficios Para Nuestra Salud.” Larepublica.pe. LaRepublica.pe, 14 Mar. 2017. Web. 30 May 2017.

Osuna-Martínez, Ulises, Jorge Reyes-Esparza, and Lourdes Rodríguez-Fragoso. “Cactus (Opuntia Ficus-indica): A Review on Its Antioxidants Properties and Potential Pharmacological Use in Chronic Diseases.” Natural Products Chemistry & Research. N.p., 16 Oct. 2014. Web. <https://www.esciencecentral.org/journals/cactus-opuntia-ficusindica-a-review-on-its-antioxidants-properties-2329-6836.1000153.php?aid=33317&gt;.

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