How to Eat Cactus, the Spiked Nutritional Powerhouse

How to Eat Cactus, the Spiked Nutritional Powerhouse

Some see cactus and think Southwest. But the spiky plants are actually a staple in Latin cooking. Even more surprising is how much nutrition lies behind the needles.

Why It’s Healthy

The fact that it hails from the desert is precisely what makes cactus so beneficial. “Plants that grow in the harshest environments are typically highest in the types of phytochemicals that help our bodies deal with stress,” says Susan Kleiner, a sports nutritionist based in Mercer Island, Washington. Thanks to those phytochemicals, as well as vitamins, polyunsaturated fats, and amino acids, cactus may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and brain-protective properties. Plus, cactus is high in fiber and low in carbs, which is partly why research suggests it helps control blood sugar, according to a review in the journal Molecules. It’s also high in potassium, which is a key to hydration while working out.

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