Are Prickly Pears Good for Diabetes? 8 Health Benefits

Prickly pears are unique-looking fruits and are known for their taste. Surprisingly, prickly pears are safe and beneficial for consumption by diabetic patients, due to their health benefits.

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

The prickly pear even qualifies as one of the superfoods 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 beneficial for diabetic consumption. Its low carbohydrate and high fiber contents make it a perfect fruit for 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.

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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. 

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.

Why are Prickly Pears Good for Diabetes? 

  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 to 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 to 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 properties of these fruits help control and avoid other symptoms that may be heightened due to diabetes. It assists in overall immunity as well as health.
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Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load of Prickly Pears

The prickly pear identifies as a Low Glycemic fruit with a Glycemic Index of just 7.

Here is a table showing the Glycemic information of the prickly pear.

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

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 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.

What is the 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
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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.

What is the Daily Limit of Prickly Pears in  Diabetes?

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.

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 per day.

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

What are the health 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:

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. Obesity: It can be a good addition to 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
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References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1008000232406
  2. https://europepmc.org/article/med/1959761
  3. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jsfa.9917
  4. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/11358120609487677
  5. https://www.mdpi.com/2076-2615/10/9/1716
  6. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Wissem-Aidi-Wannes/publication/285527725_HPLC-Determination_of_Phenolic_Composition_and_Antioxidant_Capacity_of_Cactus_Prickly_Pears_Seeds/links/5a1f35cd458515a4c3d483f8/HPLC-Determination-of-Phenolic-Composition-and-Antioxidant-Capacity-of-Cactus-Prickly-Pears-Seeds.pdf
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/prickly-pear-cactus/faq-20057771
Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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