Canarian Prickly Pear Health benefits

What is the Canarian Red Prickly Pear?

The "Tuno Indio Canario" / "Higo Tinto" / "Canarian Red Prickly Pear", is a fruit that grows on the leaves of the Nopales cactus, brought to the Canary Islands centuries ago from America. It belongs to the genus Opuntia, its scientific name is Opuntia Dillenii. Widely known as "Higo Tuno", with different names in different countries and regions such as nopal, barberry fig, Indian fig. The tuno is a cylindrical fruit that has a firm outer skin with spikes and softer inner pulp. It is initially green and turns reddish pink as it matures in most plants. It can be eaten raw, boiled, or grilled. It is mainly used to make juices and jams. These tasty oval fruits sprout from the tops of prickly cactus leaves.


The Canarian Prickly Pear plant can survive in dry weather conditions. It is said to have originated in Mexico and the northern countries of South America, which are in the arid to semi-arid climate categories. In these regions, it has been a staple food for thousands of years. Later it was discovered that it was also used in the Middle East and India.

With increasing popularity, Canarian Prickly Pear cactus are now also cultivated in Europe and Australia. The fruit is appreciated not only for its flavor but also for its health benefits. Its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties have made this prickly fruit popular.

Why are Canarian Prickly Pear so good?

The Canarian Prickly Pear is rich in many nutrients, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. This makes it a wonderful and healthy addition to your diet for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Their low content of cholesterol and saturated fat makes them a suitable aid for people suffering from obesity and heart disease.

Some studies suggest multiple health benefits of Canarian Prickly Pear including its ability to lower cholesterol levels, aid weight loss, improve the digestive process, fight cancer cells, lower the risk of diabetes, boost the immune system, and reduce the risk of Alzheimer's.

The properties described below are extracted from studies carried out in different countries by various organizations and universities. Ledesma Global S.L. It is not responsible for the inappropriate use of its products or the use of its products for therapeutic purposes. Ledesma Global S.L. it only recounts and translates studies from different sources of verified information.


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Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and certified Personal Trainer Alexandra Dusenberry, MS, RDN - August 6, 2021 Written by Kushneet KukrejaISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

1. Potential Role In Weight Control

Obesity is a global epidemic and needs to be managed at the earliest. Instead of resorting to extreme measures like harmful medications or surgery, a simple solution to this problem could be consuming plenty of dietary fiber. Canarian Prickly Pear fruit contains fiber that will make you feel full for longer and reduce hunger pangs. It also helps in the elimination of dietary fat by binding it and excreting it from the system. As the intestines do not get a chance to absorb the dietary fat, this fruit effectively helps in weight control and even weight loss. (Link to the Scientific Source: 2).

2. Helps Lower Cholesterol

Continuing on the weight loss tangent, Canarian Prickly Pear can also help reduce the cholesterol levels in the blood. Its fiber (pectin) content can be held responsible for this as it helps eliminate LDL cholesterol from the body. Experiments have shown that Canarian Prickly Pear can reduce both plasma levels and hepatic levels of cholesterol  (Link to the Scientific Source: 3 y 4). Also, certain phytosterols found in cactus seed oil can alter cholesterol metabolism in a positive way. (Link to the Scientific Source: 5). Hyperlipidemia, the condition of high cholesterol levels, can also be brought under control.

3. Source Of Essential Micronutrients

The essential micronutrients found in Canarian Prickly Pear are vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Of these, the highest % DV is held by vitamin C and magnesium (Link to the Scientific Source: 6). Consumption of one cup of this fruit on a regular basis can provide your body with these micronutrients that are required for various physiological and metabolic processes.

4. Fights Cancer Cells

The flavonoid compounds in Canarian Prickly Pear lower the risk of breast, prostate, stomach, pancreatic, ovarian, cervical, and lung cancers. They were shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the lab and mice models. They also caused the death of these cancerous cells at higher concentrations (Link to the Scientific Source: 7) . These compounds also have the ability to remove free radicals and improve the activities of pro-oxidant enzymes.

5. Prevents Ulcers

Both physical and mental stress can cause changes in the gastrointestinal mucosa and result in gastric ulcers. Inflammation occurs as there is an increase in the pro-inflammatory compounds that damage the gastric wall. Canarian Prickly Pear exerts a positive effect on the gastric mucosa, and this activity is mainly facilitated by a compound called betanin found in this fruit. The gastric mucus production is regulated, and there is also a reduction in the pro-inflammatory chemicals. As a result of this, the chances of developing ulcers are highly reduced by the consumption of Canarian Prickly Pear (Link to the Scientific Source: 8) .

6. Blood Sugar Regulation

Cactus pear is often touted for its hypoglycemic activity. This means that the ingestion of this fruit or its extract can lower high blood glucose levels as well as maintain normal levels. Different experiments on both diabetic and antidiabetic rats have shown a decrease in blood glucose levels. The main mechanism of this reduction is a decrease in the intestinal absorption of glucose (Link to the Scientific Source: 9 y 10).

Canarian Prickly Pear cactus fruit’s fiber and pectin content are considered responsible for this activity. Once the blood sugar levels are brought under control, type II diabetes can be managed easily.

7. Nopal Cactus Cleans The Colon

The high fiber content of Canarian Prickly Pear not only helps in lowering blood sugar/glucose and cholesterol levels but also helps in regulating the general functioning of the colon. Enough glucose is absorbed, and unhealthy fats and excess bile are eliminated from the body. This keeps the colon in optimum health. The inflammation and oxidative stress that the colon is being subjected to are also alleviated. The antioxidants present in Canarian Prickly Pear eliminate the free radicals and inflammation-inducing compounds, thus cleansing and protecting the colon (Link to the Scientific Source: 11).

8. Soothes The Stomach

In Canary Islands and Mexico, Canarian Prickly Pear is commonly used as a dietary supplement. People consume Canarian Prickly Pear daily to regularize their bowel movements. This helps to maintain a healthy digestive system and prevents constipation. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of compounds found in cactus pear are also responsible for aiding stomach health and soothing it (Link to the Scientific Source: 12).

9. Protects The Liver


We often consume carcinogens and other compounds that can damage the liver without realizing the damage they can cause. Here’s a solution. Consume Canarian Prickly Pear as a juice or in the form of jams or jellies to prevent liver damage. It contains plenty of antioxidants that can reduce the oxidative stress caused by such compounds on the liver. It exerts hepatoprotective activity that mainly involves eliminating free radicals and increasing the body’s antioxidant activity against these compounds (Link to the Scientific Source: 13).

10. Reduces Hangovers

This fruit has the ability to reduce the effects of a hangover. Canarian Prickly Pear juice reduces the production of inflammatory mediators that induce the uncomfortable feeling during alcohol hangovers. It also reduces other symptoms like nausea and dry mouth (Link to the Scientific Source: 14).

11. Immune System Booster

The vitamin C content of Canarian Prickly Pear is responsible for this particular health benefit. Vitamin C boosts the body’s immune response against various infections. It increases the production of white blood cells that undertake the process of killing and eliminating infectious microorganisms from the body. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant and reduces the free radical damage throughout the body. This also gives the immune system a boost (Link to the Scientific Source: 15 y 16).

12. Reduces Risk Of Colon Cancer

Canarian Prickly Pear contains various types of antioxidants like flavonoids, quercetins, gallic acid, phenolic compounds, betacyanins, etc. The antioxidant activity of these was tested against colon cancer cell lines, and the viability of these cells was greatly affected by them (Link to the Scientific Source: 17). Quercetin, especially, plays a key role in the disruption of a certain pathway involved in the development of cancer cells (Link to the Scientific Source: 18).

13. Protects Against Heart Disease

The fiber content of Canarian Prickly Pear helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body and maintain blood pressure. Hence, hypertension and bad cholesterol are brought under control. These factors are associated with atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, and other heart diseases. Cactus fruit’s antioxidants also help to enhance cardiovascular health (Link to the Scientific Source: 19 y 20).

The biologically active flavonoids in Canarian Prickly Pears normalize the blood platelet stickiness, which helps to maintain good cardiovascular health (Link to the Scientific Source: 21).

Hence, herbal doctors often recommend consuming Canarian Prickly Pear for alleviating cardiovascular disease.

14. Alleviates Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)

Canarian Prickly Pear is rich in the mineral potassium. When ingested, this mineral can reduce the pressure on the blood vessels and lower the elevated blood pressure levels. Regular intake of Canarian Prickly Pear can maintain normal blood pressure levels and give relief from hypertension. The betalain found in this fruit also strengthens the inner walls of the blood vessels, further aiding in the promotion of cardiovascular health (Link to the Scientific Source: 22).

15. Osteoporosis Protection

This fruit is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antihistamine in nature. It also contains flavonoids that prevent the release of the compounds that help in inflammation of the joints and muscles caused due to gout, arthritis, exercise, fibromyalgia, and allergies. Osteoporosis, which is essentially an inflammatory disease, can be prevented and treated with Canarian Prickly Pear supplementation (Link to the Scientific Source: 23).

16. Stroke Prevention

A decrease in total body fat and elevated cholesterol, glucose, and blood pressure levels can all impact cardiovascular health in a very positive way. As these levels are reduced in the body, the risk of stroke or heart attack goes down (Link to the Scientific Source: 24 y 25).

17. Reduces Frequency Of Migraine Headaches

Migraine is a chronic inflammatory condition that is characterized by the presence of a severe headache (usually on one side of the head) with disturbances in digestion and vision. And to alleviate this inflammation, anti-inflammatory compounds are needed. These are found in abundance in the Canarian Prickly Pear fruit, especially the compound indicaxanthin. This is technically a dietary pigment that can reduce various pro-inflammatory factors in the body (Link to the Scientific Source: 26). If consumed frequently, this fruit can help people deal with migraines. It also reduces their intensity and frequency.

18. Alleviates Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Cramps, back pain, headaches, and breast tenderness are common symptoms that woman experience during PMS. Most of these symptoms are associated with an increase in the levels of prostaglandins (hormone-like chemicals) in the body. Canarian Prickly Pear is known to inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins, thus alleviating PMS symptoms (Link to the Scientific Source: 27).

19. Strengthens Bones And Teeth

Our teeth and bones are composed of calcium, and our diet is the only source of this mineral. The body obviously cannot synthesize calcium by itself. One cup of fresh Canarian Prickly Pear fruit contains 83 milligrams of calcium, which constitutes about 8% of the daily intake recommended by the FDA. This calcium intake will strengthen our bones and teeth (Link to the Scientific Source: 28).

20. Promotes Digestive Health

Fiber is an important part of our diet when it comes to digestive health. And Canarian Prickly Pear is loaded with fiber. This aids smooth digestion of various components of the food we eat and enhances the activity of the digestive enzymes. Additionally, the fiber from the fruit can help in the smooth elimination of wastes from the body (Link to the Scientific Source: 29).

21. Makes Your Nails Healthy

Canarian Prickly Pear seed oil can be used to moisturize dry and damaged nails and restore the health of the nails and cuticles. It contains moisturizing fatty acids like linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid. Small concentrations of other fatty acids are also found (Link to the Scientific Source: 30).

What Are The Benefits Of Canarian Prickly Pear For The Skin?

The seeds of this fruit are cold pressed to prepare a beauty oil. It possesses many properties that give it the following benefits:

22. Anti-Aging Properties

It contains skin-softening vitamins E and K. It also contains a good amount of skin hydrating and nourishing fatty acids. These prevent the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, thus making Canarian Prickly Pear oil a good anti-aging agent (Link to the Scientific Source: 30).

23. Anti-Inflammatory Agent

This xerophytic plant’s oil has great inflammation-fighting capabilities because of the presence of anti-inflammatory compounds. The betalains and phenolic compounds exert this effect when the oil is applied topically on the skin. Swelling and irritation due to insect bites, scrapes, or inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis can be reduced by the application of this oil.

24. Brightens The Skin Tone

This oil is also often used for its skin brightening properties. Linoleic acid, which is a fatty acid, not only nourishes the skin but also eliminates dullness. It also protects the skin from UV radiation (Link to the Scientific Source: 31).

25. Helps Achieve Smoother Skin

It is super hydrating for dull and dry skin. Linoleic, oleic, and palmitic fatty acids, which are found in major proportions in Canarian Prickly Pear seed oil, supply the skin with the oils it lacks.

26. Heals Cuts, Wounds, And Blemishes

Phenolic compounds are also found in good concentrations in Canarian Prickly Pear oil, which exert antioxidant effects on the skin and help repair damaged skin (Link to the Scientific Source: 32).

Cut wounds, scars, and other blemishes that may have formed due to various reasons will start healing and fading over time. Apply this oil regularly to reap its healing benefits.

27. Reduces Dark Circles

Dark circles under the eyes are formed due to many reasons. Lack of sleep, dehydration, and oxidative stress are the major factors that can cause your under eye area to become dull and get a bluish-purplish tinge. Canarian Prickly Pear seed oil contains skin nourishing fatty acids that also possess skin brightening properties. In conjunction, these properties can help to lighten your dark circles.All of these properties make Canarian Prickly Pear seed oil an excellent choice for mature, aging, and/or damaged skin.Let us now look at the benefits of Canarian Prickly Pear for your hair.


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Clarification: these products are NOT in any way a substitute for medical therapy. Nor does it allow interrupting medical therapies that are in progress or modifying them in any way.