Mayo Clinic Health Library Article

 Back to Health Library
Does prickly pear cactus have health benefits?

Does prickly pear cactus have health benefits?

Prickly pear cactus can be part of a healthy diet, but benefits beyond that haven''t been backed up by studies.

QI''ve seen prickly pear cactus promoted as a superfood. What''s behind the hype?

,

AAnswer Section

Prickly pear cactus, also called nopales, is promoted for treating diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity and hangovers. It is also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

Some preliminary evidence shows that prickly pear cactus can decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Research also suggests that prickly pear cactus extract may lessen the unpleasant effects of a hangover. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.

It''s too early to call prickly pear cactus a superfood, but it can be part of a healthy diet. Indeed, prickly pear cactus is popular in many areas of the world, particularly Latin America, because it is high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids.

The edible parts of prickly pear cactus are the leaves, flowers, stems and fruit. Prickly pear cactus is eaten whole (boiled or grilled). It is also made into juice and jams.

If you''d like to try prickly pear cactus, consider easing into it. Prickly pear cactus can cause side effects, including mild diarrhea, nausea, increased stool volume, increased stool frequency and abdominal fullness, for some people.

2012-12-15

Find a physician

or Need Help Finding a Physician

Upcoming Events

Darkness to Light's: Stewards of Children
Tue, Dec 12, 2017 - 05:30 PM - 08:00 PM More
Blood Pressure Screening
Thu, Dec 14, 2017 - 09:00 AM - 11:30 AM More
Body Awareness
Thu, Dec 14, 2017 - 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM More
View all Events >>