Talking about cactus, you may imagine a kind of desert prickly plant which sometimes can be found in our room. Such quintessential desert plan may look intimidating, but in science you are suggested to make it as food. It is really reasonable because Cacti contain high vitamins and various nutrients that prove they are beneficial for our health.
Called a superstitious plant, cactus has been a vegetable mainstay for mealtime in some Latin American countries. However, its popularity becomes higher in the United States in which you can find it in many Mexican product stores, grocery stores and farmer’s markets. It has numerous varieties since it is included in the genus Opuntia, owning more than 200 species. Cactus is avoided by people due to its bristles and spikes, but it is worthy in alleviating kinds of ailments from high levels of cholesterol to various kinds of cancer. Aside from those benefits, there are still more health benefits of cactus leaves that need to be exposed.
The reason why cactus leaves are high in benefits is due to its content. To make the health benefits of cactus leaves more detailed I will explain it one by one in these following paragraphs.
1. Decreasing Cholesterol Levels
Cactus leaves relates to a way to decrease cholesterol levels within your body with its pectin and fiber content. There have been many studies to examine how good cactus leaves benefits for health, especially in lowering cholesterol. Based on a research to 68 women in France, the researchers found the women experienced cholesterol decrease and triglyceride decrease within their body. Meanwhile, there was an increase in good cholesterol that is harmless for our body.
2. Curing Diabetes
Our body elevates blood sugar every time so it needs to keep in the normal level. If the level is high it can lead to some diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Consuming cactus leaves can help you control the level of your blood sugar so it will be a good intake for whoever suffering diabetes or obesity. The pectin and fiber inside the leaves can reduce blood sugar by lessening sugar absorption within the stomach. For type 2 diabetic patients, cactus leaves can help them reduce spike within the glucose levels. This will make the diabetic management easier.
Combining cactus leaves consumption with exercise can improve the sensitivity of your insulin that means the proper response from cell to insulin. This conclusion is gained from a study of animal that is published in 2013. Another result performed that a group of people eating diets with which added 5 percent cactus leaves by weight while taking swimming program had successfully decreased their blood sugar and speeded up insulin levels instead of the other group ate high-fat food and didn’t take workout.
3. Fighting against Cancer
Health benefits of cactus leaves are useful to help people from several serious diseases, notably cancer. Based on a study about the leaves there is a potential of cancer healing doe to its compounds. Cactus leaves are great sources of antioxidant that is crucial for cellular health and can cure dangerous cancer. It is extremely beneficial for improving the immune system when facing various cancers attack. The antioxidant compounds with flavonoids, phytochemicals, vitamin C and phenolic which are also good properties to fight against cancer. They work together by protecting your body from free radicals that is harmful and can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease.
There has been dozens of laboratory tests about the health benefit of cactus leaves. In 2009 the scientists do a research about the effectiveness of cactus leaves on the cells of liver, breast, prostate and colon cancer. The properties in cactus leaf prevent the cancer growth without giving any negative effect to the healthy cells. Cactus leaves are also known found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent cell from damage and function as an anticancer.
4. Boosting Digestion
Eating cactus is an effective way to help your body enhance the digestion process. Thanks to the high amounts of fiber, the digestive process becomes easier and the movement comes smooth. The leaves assist in decreasing cellulites and improving the ability to retain amounts of water within the body for speeding up the bowel movement. Hence, some bowl problems like constipation and diarrhea can be overcome due to the stimulus on the muscle along the bowl track. Moreover, excess fiber within the body actively functions to decrease cholesterol amount, thereby maintaining the health of your health as well.
5. Reducing Weight
If you are looking for an effective way to get rid of some kilos of your weight, then you need to rely on health benefit of cactus leaves. Cactus leaves contain important components that act as a diuretic. It contains numerous components that contribute well to your weight loss program. There is high fiber inside which can keep your stomach full longer and it can also inhibit the ghrelin release, a hormone that causes hunger. Besides, the cholesterol and saturated fat which are not good are very low in the pack. However, it brings metabolic potential that makes your body work at higher level while it doesn’t influence to weight increase. The existence of riboflavin and thiamin can make the function of your metabolism work quickly. This will boost the fat burning with the food transformation into beneficial energy.
6. Keeping Brain Cells Healthy
The next health benefit of cactus leaves relates to our cognitive function. As we know, cactus leaves brings anti-inflammatory properties that can help to decrease the brain damage caused by free radicals. Based on a study, querceitin, quercein 2-methyl and dihydroquercetin have been found effective to protect isolated brain cells of rat since they are active antioxidants. Thus, it is possible for cactus leaves to have such protective effect for brain through anti-oxidative activity of flavonoid. This means that the leaves can prevent the formation of any free radicals within brain cells.
7. Providing Anti-inflammatory Properties and Antioxidant Activity
Cactus leaves are proven to have anti-inflammatory properties which fight against burns within muscles, gastrointestinal tract, cardiovascular system and arteries. The study reported that there is bio-flavonoid quercetin within the leaves that function to neutralize compounds that can damage cell and work as analgesic with anti-inflammatory properties. Besides, there are also anti-ulcer components in the leaves which is useful to prevent edema and obstruct leukocyte migration.
Not only do cactus leaves contain anti-inflammatory but also it contains antioxidant activity. This statement is gained based on a research that was held in 2006. It is found that cactus leaves delivered strong antioxidant. High level of bioflavonoid quercetin in the leaves contributed to the ability to neutralize numerous immune molecules that can decrease the formation of free radicals.
8. Reducing Hangovers
A hard drinker usually experiences what so called hangover, a pain due to drinking alcohol. Fortunately, there is a study that found consuming cactus leave can assist you to relieve the hangover without using any pain killers. There are important nutrients and beneficial antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, E, calcium, iron and carotenoids that are found among others to reduce inflammation within the body.
There was an interesting study which is published in 2004. It was held to find the potential influence of cactus leaves on hangovers. All of the participants were asked to consume the extract of cactus leaves some hours before they drink some alcoholic beverages. The result shows that the participants that took the cactus leave intake had fewer symptoms while cutting their chancetrs to experience different type of hangover. From this research it is concluded that there is significant effects found from the extract of cactus leaves because of its anti-inflammatory actions.
9. Maintaining Healthy Heart
Some studies found a great benefit of cactus leaves for heart. It is shown that the leaves can help you maintain your heart by assisting to decrease cholesterol within people having hypertension. There is a study that was published in 2007 to discover the effect of cactus leaves on 68 men with metabolic syndrome. After having the treatment for four weak, the participants gained reductions of LDL cholesterol triglyceride levels. Furthermore, HDL cholesterol which is known as the good cholesterol got an increase. Such marked improvement of cholesterol level indicates the leaves’ extremely significant benefit for overall health and especially heart health. High cholesterol is linked to an increased risk for killer diseases, including stroke and heart attacks.
10. Maintaining Young and Healthy Skin
Getting old is one of serious problems that influence our beauty, especially the skin. You cannot stop it but it is possible for you to delay the aging sign. If you believe the effectiveness of herbal drugs, then you have to try taking cactus leaves for it. It does not only offer health benefits but also beauty benefits. There is antioxidant and phytochemical characteristics in it that make cactus leaves as a good defensive intake against early aging symptoms, like age spots and wrinkles. The free radicals that are left after the process of cellular metabolism potentially impact the skin. By eating cactus leaves you can maintain your skin from the aging symptoms so you will look young and healthy longer.
11. Curing Ulcers
Cactus leaves have traditionally been used to cure ulcers since long time ago. Even, our recent studies have discovered the ulcer benefit to heal gastric ulcers. Probably, the fibrous material and the mucilage in cactus leaves inhibit the building of gastric ulcers and that which is caused by excessive alcohol consumption. If you regularly experience such painful condition you need to add this magical plant into your daily diet to maintain your health.
12. Improving Your Metabolism
Metabolism plays important role for the absorption of vitamin and minerals that you gain from food. To keep your metabolism healthy, you need to take vitamin and mineral contents presenting in cactus leaves. Cactus leaves provides thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, and riboflavin that are considered as crucial components for the cellular metabolism which control the function of enzyme within the body. A healthy hormonal balance and organ system actually helps you in weight loss easily, tones the whole body and boosts healthy muscle building.
13. Treating Sleeping Disorder
Many people complain their difficulty to sleep (insomnia). Certainly, this condition should get correct treatment which safe for their health. If you have such sleeping disorder, cactus leaves can help you sleep easier. The leaves contain magnesium that is known as a useful mineral to induce sleep in those who suffer from restlessness, chronic anxiety or insomnia. It leads to serotonin release within the body resulting in the melatonin levels which are increased. It also offers a sedative effect that decreases the function of nerve and calms your body to make you sleep easily.
14. Promoting Strong Bones
Healthy and strong bones are very important to sustain all of our body parts. When it get damage that leads to osteoporosis, you need high calcium intake from food you eat. Cactus is high in calcium and it will overcome the problem of bones. By consuming cactus leaves regularly, it means you allow your bones to repair faster and strengthenin them at the same time.
Other Things to Consider about Health Benefits of Cactus Leaves
Aside from all of the benefits above, cactus leaves can sometimes trigger hypoglemic and it should not be eaten excessively before having an operation because it can complicate the control of blood levels and glucose levels. Other than such health contents, cactus leaves is a delicious and extremely nutriousaddition for your diet.
To serve such fresh cactus leaves, you can clean up the skin to open a fleshy meat. Afterwards, Add a fresh cactus leaves having a flavor which is similar to grean beens to fruit salads and vegetable, omeletes or soups. Then, fry or boil cactus leaves till it becomes a jelly. Optionally, you can preserve the leaves and you can make it as spice with some other dishes. You can also ferment it into food that is like cheese.