The fruit naturally grows green then transitions to a reddish-purple/ pink when it has reached its full maturity. The highly nutritious value of this tuna cactus fruit allows many to consider it as a superfood.
The tuna fruit has many other alias names such as: Opuntia, prickly pear, nopal, Nostle and so on; however, its scientific name is Opuntia ficus-Indica. The fruit is native to the western hemisphere, particularly Latin America and the Caribbean; where its most popular usage is found in Mexico.
There are many Mexican cuisines that incorporate the native fruit, many researchers have declared it as a tuna Mexican fruit, which has many health benefits.
Tuna Fruit Health Benefits
The tuna fruit has many health benefits that many consider it as a superfood. Superfoods are typically considered as plants. Superfoods are nutrient rich and have extremely good benefits for the body.
The tuna fruit has antioxidants (polyphenols, betalain etc.), fiber, minerals, vitamins (B and C), calcium oxalate (non-absorbable complex), iron, magnesium, potassium, phytonutrient, and other nutrients.
It reduces the risk of:
- Cancer (due to the cancer preventive phytonutrient)
- Bad cholesterol (which reduce chronic diseases, for example, arteriosclerosis)
- Hyperglycemia (due to nutrients e.g. magnesium, assists in lowering blood glucose level.)
- Hypertension (tuna fruit contains potassium that regulates heart muscles and blood pressure)
- Depression (acts as an antidepressant because it contains folate; hence it relieves stress.)
- Diabetes (the fibers in tuna fruits help to reduce insulin and blood sugar levels.)
- The skin (the antioxidant-betalain helps to keep the skin firm and youthful by repairing dead skin cells and detoxifying the skin.)
- Energy (this is because of the carbohydrates found in tuna fruits.)
- Bones and muscles (the calcium increases the strength of weakened and damaged bone structures and repairs muscles.)
- Satiety (the fibers in tuna fruits regulate blood sugar and hunger levels.)
- Biochemical reactions (the magnesium present helps to regulate blood sugar levels and other systematic reactions/ productions e.g. protein and the immune system.)
- Eyesight (the vitamins in tuna fruits helps to improve vision e.g. vitamin C)
Common uses of Tuna Fruit
Tuna cactus fruits are commonly used for:
- The fruit can be eaten raw, added to salads, made into smoothies, jams, jellies. Native Americans and Mexicans, use the fruit to make an alcoholic drink called colonche.
- Clear and healthy skin
- Pain (e.g. ulcer, headaches, back pain etc.)
- An energizer juice
- Hair growth
- Tea (tuna fruit leaves)
- Hangover cure – One of the most popular uses for tuna is to reduce headaches caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.
Proper way to cut and eat Tuna Fruit
Before you eat tuna fruit, make sure you remove the skin and peel off all the spine. If you don’t, the glochids or spines can lodge in your lips, gums or throat.
There are various methods to properly cut and eat tuna fruits. Here is one common method:
Use a welding glove to hold the tuna fruit, then wash the fruit by using a nail brush. Rinse the fruit and the welding glove off with warm or running water.
Proceed by using a knife to cut both ends of the fruit. Do a vertical incision on the fruit then peel the skin vertically until you are finished. You can eat it raw or cooked.
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