Why we love Prickly Pears so much!
Yes Prickly Pears do have an unusual name and cactus appearance, but once you discover their unique taste, wealth of nutrients and potential health benefits, you too will fall in love with this magical fruit!
Prickly Pears are the fruit of the Prickly Pear Cactus and although not all varieties are edible, they grow in great abundance in Greece, since our Mediterranean climate proves ideal for them. These tasty, oval fruits sprout from the tops of the Prickly Pear Cactus leaves and range in color from yellow and light green to orange, pink, and red, depending on the variety and ripeness. They have a very unique composition of nutrients, including high levels of Vitamin C, B-family Vitamins, Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Copper, and Dietary Fiber. In terms of organic compounds, Prickly Pears have high levels of Flavonoids, Polyphenols, and Betalains, all of which have a greatly positive impact on our health!
According to research over the years, the most important health benefits of Prickly Pears include their ability to lower cholesterol levels, improve the digestive process, decrease the risk of diabetes (some preliminary evidence even shows that Prickly Pears can decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes), boost the immune system, stimulate bone growth, strengthen blood vessels, prevent certain cancers, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s, aid in weight loss attempts, lessen the unpleasant effects of a hangover and specifically alcohol related headaches and eliminate inflammation throughout the body!
The edible parts of the cactus are the leaves, flowers and stems, although the fruit is by far the most popular one. Before eating a Prickly Pear, it is very important to remove the skin and peel it off so all of the spines are removed. If they aren’t, the glochids can lodge themselves in your skin, lips, gums, and throat, which can be very painful. After that, however, the fruit can be used for a variety of recipes, either eaten raw or dry, and made into various delicious juices, jams, jellies, sauces, desserts, essential oils or alcoholic beverages like vodka and tequila.
Here at Anthea's we are very proud of our organically certified Prickly Pears, which we collect at the island of Kea every summer (in August) with great care!