Many people call cactus juice a scam. Can it really offer anything good?
What is cactus juice for, really?
As something not usually found in the typical diet, cactus juice adds to the variety of nutrients your immune system gets.
Phytochemicals are compounds found in plants. When consumed, they nourish our immume system in myriad ways. Those in cactus include:
- Ferulic acid
- Salicylic acid
- Vitamins B1, B2, B3
- Beta carotene
- Phenolic acids
These are phytochemicals which can counter free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can destroy DNA, leading to accelerated aging and many diseases including cancer. Some of the antioxidants in cactus include
- quercetin 3-methyl ether
- Gallic acid
- Vitamin C
In a study published in the Journal of Functional Food in September 2014, healthy volunteers experienced higher antioxidant activity after taking a cactus extract. In fact, the researchers discovered that cactus extract had higher free radical scavenging activity than plum seed and chia seed.
These are long chain sugars, which are different from simple sugars like glucose.
When you cut across a cactus stem, you can see a slimy liquid. This liquid, known as mucilage, is rich in polysaccharides and is a part of cactus juice. They include
- galacturonic acid
Scientists found that human macrophages (immune cells that act as vacuum cleaner and more) produced more tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 6, reactive oxygen species, and nitric oxide in the presence of cactus polysaccharides. These substances trigger immune processes that help to fight injury and disease.
In the same study, the cactus polysaccharides also had antioxidant effects and showed potential in activating an immune system regulating process.
The interesting thing is, the researchers observed that the bigger the polysaccharide, the more effective it is in activating the immune system. And because cactus contains so many different types of polysaccharides, you can be sure it is a quality source of them.
Can’t I just eat the cactus pad?
When buying cactus juice
Cactus nutrients decrease in quality rapidly after the pads are harvested. So you really need to buy from someone with expert knowledge of processing and producing cactus juice.
As they don’t include any preservatives, you must store them in the fridge after opening.
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