Prickly pear figs, sometimes called cactus fruits, has a pleasantly sweet taste with a touch of acidity. The fruit, which can vary in color from pale green to vibrant red, is commonly consumed in Mexico and also grows in the United States. They are a welcome addition to healthy drinks and their rich content of vitamins, minerals and fiber means adding nutritional value to your diet.
Macronutrients and fiber
Prickly pears offer nutritional value thanks to their macronutrient content. Each serving of a cup, about one and a half fruits, contains 10 grams of total carbohydrates, including 5.4 grams of fiber. It also contains one gram of protein and less than one gram of fat. Its carbohydrate content serves as a fuel source for cells and tissues, supports brain function and promotes intestinal health. Fiber plays an important role in the prevention of diseases, including the prevention of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer. The fiber in one serving is 14% of the suggested daily intake for men and 21% for women, established by the Institute of Medicine. The small amounts of protein and fat in the fruit help in the absorption of the vitamin and maintenance of the tissue, respectively.
Each serving of prickly pear provides small amounts of B vitamins, a family of nutrients that help activate the enzymes needed to derive energy from food. It also provides a considerable amount of vitamin C. Each serving contains 21 milligrams, or about a quarter of the recommendations for vitamin C intake for men and a little less than a third of women, according to the Institute of Medicine. Vitamin C provides tissue strength by increasing your body's collagen levels and also helps your body absorb and use iron.
The prickly pear has an impressive mineral content. It provides a considerable amount of copper, 13% of your daily intake recommendation, based on the guidelines of the Institute of Medicine. A serving of prickly pear also contains 40% of the daily intake of magnesium for women and 30% for men. Magnesium plays a key role in activating enzymes, proteins that perform chemical reactions, which cells need to function, while copper is compatible with your immune system and aids in the growth of red blood cells. It also provides small amounts of potassium and calcium, as well as phosphorus.
How to eat it
The prickly pear lives up to its name and even fruits that do not seem to have thorns can cause discomfort.Use gloves to protect your hands when handling fruit. Eat the peeled fruit as a light snack or mixed with cucumber, green tea ice cream and fresh mint to obtain a refreshing and nutritious drink. Alternately, mix fresh and frozen pieces of prickly pear to make an ice cold drink and melt it in the warm weather.