Are Prickly Pears Good for Diabetics? 8 Benefits & Nutrition

As diabetics, choosing, and including foods that fit your diet can be a tough job at times. There are endless restrictions and limits on food items that a diabetic has to consider before including a particular food into his/her diet.

We are here to solve the dilemma you have regarding foods and your diabetic health. Today we will tell you – Are prickly pears good for diabetics? Make sure you stick around to find out its potential health benefits and nutrients. Let us jump right in.

What is Prickly Pear? 

What is Prickly Pear

Well, before discussing what the prickly pear is good for and if it is safe for diabetics or not, let us first find out the basics.

Prickly pears are fruits from several fleshy cactus plants. The cacti belonging to the Opuntia genus carry a generally edible fruit, which is known as the prickly pear. It is also commonly called Nopales or Nopal (a Spanish name).

The flowers of these cacti develop into fruits during the fall season. They were originally popular in Mexico as an edible fruit. Now, this tasty and unique fruit has gained worldwide popularity.

Apart from its taste factor, the prickly pear is also considered as healthy for the body. It can help with managing cholesterol, hangovers, diabetes, etc.

Are prickly pears good for diabetics? 

Are prickly pears good for diabetics

Prickly pears are amazingly intimidating fruits. They are unique-looking and are known for their taste. Surprisingly, prickly pears are also safe and beneficial for consumption by diabetic patients.

Thus, prickly pears are rather among the recommended list of fruits that a diabetic can add in his/her healthy diet routines.

This cacti fruit is known for its properties to encourage blood sugar management. It is especially said to be great for ones with Type 2 Diabetes.

The prickly pear even qualifies as one of the super foods for treating and managing diabetes. Let us know about its goods in some further detail.

Prickly pears have been proven to be great for the health and body in several ways. It has qualities that make it an efficient food item for the heart as well.

This fruit has been specially tested and proven as beneficial for diabetic consumption. Its low carbohydrate and high fiber contents make it a perfect fruit for the diabetics.

A sweet and tasty fruit like the prickly pear also satisfies the diabetic sugar temptation. It is deemed safe for blood sugar levels and does not have any harmful impacts. On the other hand, it is rather meant for diabetic consumption to reduce and prevent any risks to one’s health.

The prickly pear is also extremely low in the Glycemic Index measure. Glycemic Index is an important agent in determining if or not a certain food item is safe to be eaten by diabetics. 

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Prickly pear is an excellent supplement that helps to keep the weight under control. It has very low carbs and calories.

Apart from fibers, it is also rich in good cholesterol and anti-inflammatory nutrients. We will know more about its nutrition further along.

NOTE: Broiled stems of prickly pears work efficiently in reducing diabetes. The raw or naturally available form of the fruit is not as effective as the broiled versions.

Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Prickly Pears: 

Here is a table showing the Glycemic information of the prickly pear. It will help to mark the safety of this fruit.

Glycemic CategoryValue
1.      Glycemic Index7
2.      Glycemic Load0 (in 100 grams)

Food is considered to be low in Glycemic Index when it ranges from 0 to 55. According to this classification, the prickly pear identifies as a Low GI fruit with a GI of only 7.

The Glycemic Load of food is the measure of how a certain quantity of food can affect blood sugar levels. Food needs to be low in Glycemic Load to be safe for diabetic consumption. The low Glycemic Load foods range from 0 to 10.

A 100 grams serving of the prickly pear has only 6 grams of carbohydrates. The GL of it is 0. Meaning that the effect it will have on one’s diabetic health is nearly nothing.

Therefore, it is researched and clinically proven to be a great addition to a diabetic diet. This can be a healthy substitute for many other food items and fruits.

Nutritional Composition of Prickly Pears 

Nutritional Composition of Prickly Pears 

Apart from the already mentioned nutrients found in prickly pears, many other essential elements can benefit the body. Let us find out the several good nutrients that this fruit has to offer.

Sl. No.Major Nutrients in 1 cup Prickly PearAmount
1.Total calories256 kJ
2.Total carbohydrates14.3g
3.Dietary Fibers5.4g
4.Total fat0.8g
5.Saturated Fat0.1g
6.Protein1.1g
7.Water130g

 

Sl. No. Vitamins in 1 cup Prickly PearsAmount
1.Vitamin A64.1IU
2.Vitamin C20.9mg
3.Riboflavin0.1mg
4.Niacin0.7mg
5.Folate8.9mcg
6.Vitamin B60.1mg

 

Sl. No. Minerals in 1 cup of Prickly PearsAmount
1.Calcium83.4mg
2.Magnesium127mg
3.Potassium328mg
4.Phosphorus35.8mg
5.Sodium7.5mg
6.Zinc0.2mg
7.Copper0.1mg
8.Iron0.4mg
9.Selenium0.9mg

Moreover, prickly pears, being natural fruits do not have any artificial or added sugars. They do not even have any presence of starch. These can contribute to raises in blood sugar levels.

Doctors often even recommend prickly pears as safe fruits for diabetic individuals. They do not harm diabetic health; instead, provide benefits to many internal systems and functioning.

Daily Limits for diabetics

Prickly Pears

As this a healthy fruit and does not have any side-effects, a diabetic can include more quantities of it in his/her everyday diet.

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One can include around 300 grams of steamed prickly pears. For broiled pears, a diabetic can safely consume up to 500 grams of this fruit.

It is essential to follow the restricted quantities to assure no harm to your health. For better results, you can even consult for doctors and the medical team about the effects and benefits of prickly pears.

Why are Prickly Pears Good for Diabetics? 

  1. One of the many benefits of eating prickly pears is known to be its quality to treat blood sugar levels and diabetes. Tests and researches have observed that prickly pears have the potentials to reduce the effects among patients with Type 2 Diabetes.
  1. It is low in sugar, starch, as well as carbohydrates. They can hence be a great addition in your diabetic health routine. It has been experimentally recorded that the prickly pear can even reduce the blood sugar levels by 17% to 46% in some individuals.
  1. Prickly pears have a lot of fiber. Pectin, a form of soluble fiber, makes it even more beneficial. Fiber is a necessary nutrient to add to one’s diabetic diet. The presence of fiber decreases the pace of digestion and in turn, manages and prevents any spikes that may occur to the blood sugar levels.
  1. Pectin, also functions in the same way. It assists in lowering the lipid and glucose count. The slower digestion helps in better absorption of carbohydrates and fats. It is an efficient way of slowing the rise in the blood glucose levels of the body.
  1. Eating prickly pears can also have beneficial effects on one’s insulin functioning. These fruits help to improve insulin sensitivity. They make the hormone more responsive, which in turn carries out proper absorption and release of sugars in the body.
  1. Prickly pears are also great additions in the diet that do not contribute to any weight gain. Maintaining weight by diabetic patients is an efficient element of staying healthy. These pears are often recommended for pre-diabetics and to ones who are looking forward to losing weight.
  1. The prickly pear contains numerous vitamins and minerals. These are important nutrients for diabetics and are necessary to fulfill a balanced diet.
  1. The anti-inflammatory propertiesof these fruits help control and avoid other symptoms that may be heightened due to diabetes. It assists in the overall immunity as well as health.

Other health-related benefits of Prickly Pears

health-related benefits of Prickly Pears

In addition to diabetes, the prickly pear is also great for various other ailments. It has a lot of potentials to keep the body healthy and promote better functioning. Let us know more about the benefits of eating prickly pears:

–        For curing hangovers: Prickly pears are said to be a good cure to treat alcohol hangovers. Taking one prickly pear before you drink can assist in reducing the possibility of a hangover on the following day. It is said to be effective in decreasing the symptoms such as –nausea, dehydration, dried mouth, lost appetite, etc. 

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–        Reduces high cholesterol levels: Prickly pears and their pulps can be great for controlling heart health by reducing total cholesterol levels. It is beneficial in reducing LDL, also known as bad cholesterol. A healthy heart can keep the entire body healthy.

–        Obesity: It can be a good addition in a diet aimed at weight loss. The prickly pear does not add to any fats or carbs. They are full of fiber, which fills the stomach and controls other sugary cravings as well.

–        Reduces symptoms of an Enlarged prostrate: The enlargement of the prostate can lead to many difficulties in men. Some studies have found that the prickly pear can help manage the symptoms such as a frequent need for urinating.

–        Manages gut health: The rich dietary fibers assist to keep the metabolism regular and encourage good gut health. It provides food to the gut bacteria. In turn, issues such as – constipation, diarrhea, colon infections, etc. are kept away.

–        Anti-viral and Anti-inflammatory qualities: these fruits are also rich in several antioxidants and carotenoids. They help to keep away the negative effects of free-radicals that are harmful to the body. It also avoids any risks of viral disease manifestations.

Takeaway

With several listed benefits, the prickly pear fruit is a safe fruit option for diabetic individuals. They are good for a lot of health issues and symptoms.

Remember to include broiled prickly pears for the most benefits. Avoid including sweetened juices or jams from the fruit as they can hamper with your sugar levels.

References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31283026/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28729836/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28491239/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31604414/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24712058/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28631306/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21205111/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31096667/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25132122/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30276684/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/prickly-pear-cactus/faq-20057771

Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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