Prickly pears (called tuna in Spanish — and no, it’s not the fish) are a wonderful Summer and Fall option to savor a fresh, sweet treat. But what are they?
In case you haven’t tried them in the past, these Mexican fruits are born on the nopal (cactus). Although the complete plant is edible, the parts are completely different in flavor. The nopal itself (the green part) is great for a salty salad, you just need to boil it or grill it and it’s a super healthy food. On the other hand, the fruit, which is round and light green, is soft, sweet and doesn’t need extra cooking to be eaten.
Prickly pears usually have spines, although they are usually clean when you buy them. The outside is a thick skin, but it’s very easily removed. You just need to cut both tips and make a cut with a knife along the fruit. After that you just need to pull it and all of it will come off in just one move. Inside, the pulp is soft, meaty and sweet. It has a lot of seeds, but these are edible too. It kind of resembles a kiwi, but with thicker seeds and skin.
This is how it looks before peeling it:
You can eat it just like that, like an apple. I also like to mix it in different juices. For example, I blend it with orange juice or pineapple juice. Its flavor is soft, so it doesn’t entirely change the way the juice tastes, it just adds a little twist.
Why should you eat it?
It has lots of health benefits!
For starters, it has a very low calorie count, so it’s not a too-sugary fruit. It’s mostly water! This also helps balance sugar levels in the blood.
Prickly pears improve your digestion, since they are rich in fiber. They also help balance the gastric acid. And since it’s a diuretic fruit, it helps keep your kidneys healthy.
Regarding nutrients, they have calcium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamin C. This makes them great antioxidants.