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.
Check out my Tuna/ Nopal Paddle Smoothie
Other Fruits To Learn About
- Papaya Fruit
- 10 Amazing Benefits Of Noni
- Amazing Benefits Of Lemon
- Key Lime
- Loquat Fruit
- Mangosteen Fruit
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I’m amazed at what this fruit can do I didn’t know any of this till today and i been eating tunas since I was a child we would drive around south central Los Angeles to find a vendor selling them in a bag with salt and lime.
I didn’t know this fruit had so many health benefits. thank you for sharing!
You are welcome Francis.
I Googled Tuna fruit to find out how to remove the stony seeds in them. Its full of them and impossible to eat without swallowing them or constantly spitting them out.
I was hoping to find out how to remove them.
Cindy like kiwi fruit, I eat the seeds with no problem.
Lol. All this description and you never once mentioned WHAT IT TASTES LIKE…perhaps you wouldn’t mind enlightening me ?
Hahaha, it has a mildly sweet flavor like a bland strawberry without the tartness. I love your constructive criticism. Please keep leaving your feedback, you are great for user experience, I would love to have you on our team. Thank you, Annet.
I love to use it as a conditioner for my hair!
I live in Southern Colorado and I hike a lot. I literally walk by gobs if these cacti everyday and have been watching these buds grow and ripen all summer. I had heard part of the cactus was edible. I found this article interesting but I have no plans to harvest any of these on my hike. Loved the information.
Thank you, Kim, it is very popular in many cultures but I’m always cautious in case there are lookalike poisonous ones in the wild. If it is the same version then I would be having fun harvesting both the fruit and the paddle. I use the paddle part as food and conditioner for my hair.
This is very informative, prickly pear is now on my shopping list.
That’s awesome Ivy!