Project Description

(Opuntia ficus indica)

This beautiful cactus seems to grow very well in the Mediterranean, although native of America.
They can hold lots of water and are absolutely full of vitamin C, A, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron and even amino acids.

Medicinally, there are a few studies emerging and some interesting papers on pubmed.
“The identified natural cactus compounds and derivatives were shown to be endowed with biologically relevant activities including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, antimicrobial and neuroprotective properties” (El-Mostafa K, et al. Molecules. 2014).

Recent studies are looking at this medicinal fruit to help patients with diabetes and blood sugar imbalances. Therefore it should not be eaten if on diabetic medications.
It is also used to help reduce cholesterol and can be taken to reduce hangovers!

Surprisingly they are not eaten so much here in Greece but rather grown for effective wind barriers.

The fruit ripens at the end of summer and care must be taken as they are very prickly, as I fouled out myself trying to cut one open, so a knife and fork is recommended. Tastes quite tart but I’ve heard is yummy when made into jams.