Superfoods are all the rage recently, with many health experts suggesting that we should be eating more of them.
The latest so-called superfood may surprise you though, as it most likely is not something that you would consider eating; cactus.
However, recently there has been a rise in restaurants across the country starting to add peeled cactus leaves, stems and fruit being added to salads, smoothies and sandwiches.
Also, there are various cactus juices and jams being made available to buy in local supermarkets.
So what makes the cactus a superfood?
It is the antioxidant properties of the cactus that makes it a superfood, with nutritionists such as Amy Shapiro of Real Nutrition NYC claiming that it can help with weight loss and can help ease a bad hangover.
“Just like every plant, there’s a lot of nutritional benefits of eating cactus.”
What minerals and antioxidants are found in cactus?
Cactus contains a high percentage of fibre, which can help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, this will help stop those sugar highs and subsequent crashes that result in food cravings.
Cactus is also low in calories too, with a single cup only containing 14 calories.
High-fibre foods have been shown to be perfect for weight loss as they will allow you to fill up without causing a huge impact on your daily calorie allowance.
“When we’re trying to lose weight, we want to fill up on high fibre foods that are low in calories. We want to stay full for a longer period of time for the least amount of calories.”
As well as its fibre content, cactus also contains pectin, which can help capture cholesterol in your blood and ensuring it is removed via digestion.
Furthermore, cactus contains vitamins A and C, which can help strengthen your skin, and calcium, magnesium and sodium, which act as electrolytes that are important for muscle contraction, hydration and cell function.
It is these electrolytes that help you to recover from those hangovers.
How to get more cactus into your diet?
It is rare for people to consume cactus raw, as its taste has been described as being like a crunchy cucumber, but with a little added bitterness.
Usually people will boil, cook, or grill them instead.
Probably the easiest way to increase your intake of cactus would be to add it to a smoothie. That way the other ingredients can mask the taste a little.