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The name shakes are used to make distinction between the milk based and others based on fruit, vegetables. 


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Curcumin root


 

 

Nutrients for optimizing body health.

All Opuntia cultivars cactuses are located in protected environments, either plantations or home gardens, since there survival in areas exposed to herbivore vertebrates is unlikely. There is archaic-botanical evidence indicating the use of Opuntia spp. by several ethnic groups since about 8000 years ago, none of it can be directly associated to O. ficus-indica. The most extreme degree of domestication in any given species is characterized by its dependence on man-made habitats to survive. Basically all cactus species are edible but not as widely used due to thorns. Its origin part of a myth and connected with old disappeared intelligences or old and forgotten civilisations. Similar to the grains we use. Most could be traced back to the grass but not all. Because no Wild plants could not been found and it has been proposed that it derived from O. amyclae or O. two species distributed in north central Mexico tablelands but still no real prove.

The Nahuatl pre-Columbian name of O. ficus-indica was Tenochtli or Tzapotlnochtli. Nochtli is the Nahuatl word for cactus pear. The first name -Tenochtli- means divine cactus pear; the latter derives from the similarity between the cactus pear fruit with the spherical fleshy fruits generically denominated Tzapotl (Manilkara zapota and Diospyros digyna).

 

The Spanish name Tuna is a word of the Caribbean Taino language; the Arabs call it Christian Fig, and the Portuguese name it Figueroa Moura; its name is Mission Cactus in the United States, since Franciscan monks established missions in California during the 18th century, using it as fruit, decoration and building material. It is called Sabra in Israel, a name also given to some local inhabitants in the country; in Brazil it is called Palma Forrageira, which almost exclusively used as fodder. The richness of common names for O. ficus-indica (L.) Miller is a signal of its importance. People name only plants with economical, social or ecological value.

The domestication process of Opuntia was directed towards producing plants with cladodes, lacking spines and with large sweet fruits, a process developed in the south of the meridional highlands of Mexico.

The Spanish took this species to their homeland, given its morphological peculiarities, and because of its edible fruits, anti-scurvy properties and for being the host of the cochineal insect, from which the commercially important cochineal dye was obtained. Afterwards, it was introduced to other parts of the world, particularly to Mediterranean region.

The Cactus pear fruit and the uses of cladodes as crop has much to contribute to human food, and there can be a hope for new human medicine, source of natural additives for the food industry, and mainly, more than a 'bridge of life' for low-income inhabitants in different parts of the world an additional source of income. The numerous possibilities of obtaining different products and by-products are enormous and these possibilities of obtaining different products and by-products from cactus pear and nopal open up new hopes for the semi-arid regions.

Basically, the demand for nutraceuticals, natural ingredients and health-promoting foods is increased constantly. The main studies on the Opuntia fruits were: the chemical analysis of pulp, skin and seeds, analysis of volatile constituents of pulp, use of pulp in juice production, production of alcoholic beverage, jam production and the production of cocoa butter equivalents from prickly pear juice fermentation by an unsaturated fatty acid auxotroph as very successful.

Both cactus pear and nopal open new hopes for the semi-arid regions because of sustainability in terms of production. Nevertheless, many aspects related to the processing of cactus pear and the uses of cladodes could use further research.

 

Some products and by-products from cactus pear fruit and cladodes in detail.

Prickly pear cactus fruit.

Cactus pear Cladodes.

Flour

Mucilage from cladodes.

Juices and nectars.

Pickles and brine products

Oil from seeds.

Marmalades, gels and jams Candy.

Dehydrated sheets.

Marmalades and jam.

Pigments from the peel

Sweeteners

Dietary fibre from cladodes

Alcohol and wines

Sauce

Canned fruit

Alcohol

Frozen fruit

Comparing the fruits of the cactus / leaves or pads with fruit / vegetables.

Prickly pear is one of the few crops that can be cultivated in many semi-arid lands of the world which offer very little hope for growing common fruits and vegetables. Commonly eaten fresh, it is known in some areas of the world as the 'bridge of life' because, during periods of little rain, it is one of the only crops that can be used as both human food and cattle feed. A prickly pear can survive a three year drought and is ability to recover has led to many myth/biological immortality.

As fresh fruit the cactus pear has a similar composition to other fruits and vegetables but the exact knowledge of composition is needed/basis for any successful technological process. The chemical and mineral composition described by different authors shows that cactus pears have a similar nutritive value to other fruits. However, its soluble solids content reaches values greater than 16%, a value greater than that present in other fruits, such as prune, apricot, and peach. As such, can be used to be processed into concentrated juices or dehydrated products, or for other technologies that use sucrose content to preserve the product. In regard to sugars, the fruit pulp is about 53% glucose, and the remaining 47% fructose. The caloric value of the pulp, is about 50 Kcal 100 g~1, comparable to that of other fruits such as pear, apricot and orange.

The other components present in cactus pear pulp are protein (0·21–1·6%), fat (0·09–0·7%), fibre (0·02–3·15%) and ash (0·4–1%), all of which are similar to other fruits. The Cactus pears have a high level of ascorbic acid, which can reach levels near 40 mg 100 g~1 such a concentration of vitamin C is higher than that of apple, pear, grape and banana. Sodium and potassium content in cactus pear pulp is high too, potassium (217 mg 100 g~1) and a low level of sodium (0·6–1·19 mg 100 g~1) which is an advantage for people with renal and blood pressure problems. Calcium and phosphorus represent three-quarters of the minerals of the body and are found fundamentally in bones, which serve as an important reservoir. Prickly pears are rich in calcium 15·4–32·8 mg 100 g~1 and phosphorus 12·8–27·6 mg 100 g~1

Although they are one of the fruits to contribute a large content of calcium to the diet, its availability must be further studied, due to its common presence in the plant as calcium oxalate component, which has a low assimilation by the body. The contribution of phosphorus is similar to that of cherry, apricot, melon and raspberry.

Chemical composition and nutritive value are not the only characteristics that play an important role in prickly pear processing; the cactus pear has proven to be a great challenge.

The high pH value (5·3–7·1) classifies this fruit within the low acid group, (pH'4·5) requiring a thermal treatment of 115·53C or greater to obtain good control of micro-organisms. The pH value, together with low acidity and a high content of soluble solids, make prickly pear pulp a very attractive medium for micro-organism growth. Pectin, partially responsible for the viscosity of the pulp, is a positive element towards the production of juices, marmalades and jams. However, the content in cactus pear pulp (0·17–0·21%) is not sufficient to produce gels.

The presence of these different pigments affects the stability of the products obtained. Betalains, for example, are more stable than chlorophylls under thermal treatment and pH variation. Therefore, it could be expected that the fruits and products from purple cactus pear would be more stable than those from green cactus pear, as is discussed later.

Prickly pear cactus is a plant, it is part of the diet in Mexican and Mexican-American cultures. Only the young plant is eaten; older plants are too tough. Prickly pear cactus is also used for medicine. Prickly pear cactus is popular in many areas of the world, particularly Latin America, because it is high in fibre, antioxidants and carotenoids.

The edible parts of prickly pear cactus are the leaves, flowers, stems and fruit. Prickly pear cactus is eaten whole (boiled or grilled). It is also made into juice and jams.

 

Prickly cactus leaver or pads best known however as Nopal.

 

 

Archaeological research using Carbon-14 dating techniques found human coprolites (preserved faeces) containing the remains of Nopal cactus dating back as far as 65 B.C. Another source of information about Nopal's many uses by people in the ancient times can be found in the journals of the missionaries who worked in the region, in the Spanish conquistadors The Aztecs used Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) for building materials, food, making glue, firewood, strengthening mortar, stiffening cloth and for religious rituals.

 

Prickly pear pads or nopal

The young cladodes ('nopalitos') or leaves of the cactus plants have commonly been consumed fresh, but the last decade's research studies on cactus pear processing have produced other alternatives and to prevent damage to the pads and fruit and, in spite of technological characteristics processing a challenge. (high soluble solids content, low acidity and high pH), adds value to this crop. The cladodes of the plant are a good source of fibre, an important element for the human diet and of considerable potential for medical use. The focus here on the production of juices, marmalades, gels, liquid sweeteners, dehydrated foods and other products produced from cactus.

The research concerning products from the plant cladodes has presented a very interesting composition quite different from the fruit, and recently there have been some very stimulating results. In relation to microbiological stability, Carrandi (1995)observed in pasteurized juice (98–100C during 20 s) a marked colour and flavour change and the presence of microorganisms that caused damage to the juice. Other

more drastic thermal treatments, such as bottled juice treatment (100C during 20 min), produced good results for microbiological stability, but the final product did not resemble the original fresh juice due to changes in colour and flavour. Other have attempted to obtain clarified juices. The juices without pulp can be concentrated to a higher degree of solids content, with advantages in terms of both their conservation and the reduction of transport and storage space. The fact that the cactus has a relative high percentage in soluble components an advantage.

The successful introduction of Opuntia in these areas has been attributed to its Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). The CAM plants take up CO2 primarily at night.

Prickly pear pads or nopal

Prickly pear or Opuntia ficus-indica) is a tree like cactus from the family Cactacceae. The dried leaves of prickly pear cactus have been considered as one of the functional food by embracing essential ingredients, such as amino acids, laurine, carbohydrates, vitamin C, minerals, and soluble fibres. Prickly pear owns well-known ant diabetic and lipid lowering properties. Also, it is very useful in obesity, alcohol-induced hangover, colitis, diarrhoea, and benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH).

The young cladodes ('nopalitos') or leaves of the cactus plants have commonly been consumed fresh, but the last decade's research studies on cactus pear processing have produced other alternatives and to prevent damage to the pads and fruit and, in spite of technological characteristics processing a challenge. (high soluble solids content, low acidity and high pH), adds value to this crop. The cladodes of the plant are a good source of fibre, an important element for the human diet and of considerable potential for medical use. The focus here on the production of juices, marmalades, gels, liquid sweeteners, dehydrated foods and other products produced from cactus.

The research concerning products from the plant cladodes has presented a very interesting composition quite different from the fruit, and recently there have been some very stimulating results. In relation to microbiological stability, Carrandi (1995)observed in pasteurized juice (98–100C during 20 s) a marked colour and flavour change and the presence of microorganisms that caused damage to the juice. Other

more drastic thermal treatments, such as bottled juice treatment (100C during 20 min), produced good results for microbiological stability, but the final product did not resemble the original fresh juice due to changes in colour and flavour. Other have attempted to obtain clarified juices. The juices without pulp can be concentrated to a higher degree of solids content, with advantages in terms of both their conservation and the reduction of transport and storage space. The fact that the cactus has a relative high percentage in soluble components an advantage. The successful introduction of Opuntia in these areas has been attributed to its Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM). The CAM plants take up CO2 primarily at night.

Defatted prickly pear flour characterizes a high content of dietary fibres. 100 g of the defatted flour contains about 14.4 g dietary fibres. Dietary fibres are awarded positive characteristics on our metabolism and our digestion. According to reports, people have taken only 10 g of dietary fibres in average. During the Stone Age people consume nearly 104 g per person which is ten times higher than today.

'Nopalitos' are a highly perishable vegetable crop when handled and marketed fresh, but with
industrial transformation they can be conserved for a long time. Three of the main processed products are 'nopalitos' in brine and pickled 'nopalitos' (Corrales-GarcmHa, 1998) and dehydrated. For both products, there are common steps that involve de-thorning, washing, dicing or cutting, scalding or cooking; after this conditioning, the nopalitos can follow different methods of processing. As seen in * the nopalitos in brine are prepared with a pickling mixture, which is a combination of vinegar (1·87–2·0% acetic acid) with spices, aromatic herbs, and olive oil. The vinegar is heated to boiling, and the spices are then added, either directly or in a cloth bag.

*Onion slices, garlic cloves, laurel leaves and carrot discs are lightly fried, separately, in vegetable oil. Then the nopalitos, vinegar and sauté Hed vegetables are mixed, and bottled in jars that have been sterilized in boiling water. Due to changing life styles in developed countries over the past years have led consumers to prefer ready-to-eat foods and a low-calorie, low-cholesterol, low-fat diet that is fibre enriched. Interest in natural sources of fibre has increased. Consumers know the relationship between fibre consumption and cholesterol control, and the role of fibre in the prevention of some illnesses such as diabetes and obesity.

Other older preservation procedures with a large application today, although mostly in Mexico, are the ones developed for wild varieties (Opuntia streptacantha and Opuntia Robusta); among them appears the ‘tuna cheese’, prepared with cottage industry procedures, based on the boiling of the pulp and juice until a certain viscosity is obtained (‘melcocha’). The juice, highly concentrated and beaten, is then placed in rectangular recipients, usually of 1 kg, which are sold once the ‘cheese’ has dried. Raisins, nuts and pine nuts can be added to enrich its flavour (SaHenz, 1995; LoHpez et al., 1997).

 

Prickly Pear Cladodes Powder & weight loss

The cladodes of the prickly pear plant of pads are a good source of fibre, an important element for the human diet and of considerable potential for medical use.

Another very interesting product manufactured out of prickly pear cladodes is a powder, which is obtained from the pads (cladodes, stems) of the prickly pear cactus. Before processing; the pads will be cleaned, sliced and dehydrated.

The nutrient-rich powder of the prickly pear is a perfect substitute for conventional wheat flour, especially for person with allergies. (Gluten-free). During the production of superfine flour out of the whole grain, almost ¾ of the minerals are removed that the industrial processed flour is a downgraded foodstuff. In addition, many people have gluten intolerance and react specifically allergic to wheat flour. Furthermore, conventional flours contain a lot of sugar, but no fibres and minerals. A number of scientist and nutritionists justify common diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and adiposity with the copious consumption of wheat products.

With his unique profile of secondary plant compound, vitamins and minerals, the prickly pear cladodes powder is excellent for nutritional food with all-important nutrient substances for the human body. The powder also includes important vitamins and minerals, which helps our body to detoxify and to reduce our level of blood sugar and cholesterol. Primarily responsible for this benefit is the high amount of fibres, which is more than 50 %.

The high amount of fibre is also responsible that the nutrition will be digesting slowly and our feeling of satiety is longer. (Fibres are binding water in our bowel).

For this reason the prickly pear cladodes powder is an appetizing killer and helps people with adiposities to reduce their weight easier and will be more important as an ingredients for dietary and healthy lifestyle.

Serious market studies highlight that the Nopal prickly pear powder has stabilizing and regulating effect for our blood sugar content. With this regulated blood sugar level you will feel much better, more energetic and your spirit will increase in general.

One potential source of natural dietary fibre is the cladodes of the cactus pads. The age is important and to get a high fibre content when older (3-5) years. The age the cladodes influences its chemical composition; that is, the crude fibre (only a portion of the dietary fibre) increases with the age of the cladodes. In recent years SepuH lveda et al. (1995), SaHenz et al. (1995b) and SaHenz et al. (1997b) have studied methods for obtaining cladode flour from mature cladodes  as a concentrated fibre source to be added to other flour products. The authors/researchers tested different ages/years and temperatures for drying the cladodes and obtained a concentration of 43% dietary fibre, where 28·5% was insoluble fibre and 14·5% soluble fibre. Testing different proportions for mixing cladodes and wheat flour and the rheological behaviour of the dough was analysed. The cactus made flour was tested by substituting it for some portion of the wheat flour in biscuits, and proven that it could be added in replacement portions of nearly 10–15%. Albornoz (1998) and Vallejos (1999) tested the substitution in a vegetable soup and in a flan (a dessert), respectively; they observed that in the soup the maximum level of addition was 15% and in the dessert it was 16%.

 Higher proportions affected the rheological properties as well as the taste and aroma of the products. Nevertheless, those substituted proportions made a great difference in these products, compared to the commercial ones, because the contribution to the fibre intake was significantly higher than before it was added.

Properties of crudeyoung ‘nopal’ compared with older ones as a source of fibre. The dried product had 20·4% of dietary fibre as well as other interesting physico-chemical characteristics: water absorption (5·8), water retention (4·7), organic molecules absorption (0·69), and cationic exchange (0·49), which could explain the role of ‘nopal’ in the intestine.

Bij tested rats’ consumption of crude and scalded ‘nopal’ it was observed that the greater the amount of fibre in the diet the greater the production of faeces in both cases. The authors/researchers concluded that if rats lose weight and show signs of malnutrition, the consumption of crude ‘nopal’ must be carefully examined in humans.

 

Main applications for prickly pear cladode powder are bread mixes, wellness and diet products.

The prickly pear cladode powder can be used in almost every bakery products, smoothies, soups, dressings, fitness bars and many other applications to increase the dietary fibres and nutritional value of these applications to a higher level.

 

 

 

 

 

Organic prickly pear flour.

– Bakery

– Cooking

– Functional food

– Refinement and enhancement of sauces and marinades (Emulsifying property)

– Refinement of desserts

Beside to conventional flours, our prickly pear flour is rich on minerals and vitamins:

– Iron 7,42 %

– Calcium 1200 mg/kg

– Magnesium 117 mg/kg

Raw Mucilage

The mucilage's in cactus tissue are responsible for water retention and can be used as dietary fibre

or food thickening agents. The cactus pads are low in acids, the fruit is therefore suitable for use in dairy products. With readily absorbable sugars, high vitamin C and mineral content, as well as containing polyphenols, amino acids and having a pleasant flavour, cactus pear is tailor-made for functional food preparations. By adding water to the prickly leave mush during processing the amount of mucilage's can be increased but at the same time as a result the caloric value will go decrease and fibre content increases. By being able to control and adjust caloric value and fibre new possibilities arrive and a diet can be much more personalised and take in the age perspective. The diet when you are growing differs to the optimal diet when your are old. It is about being overfed and under nourished depending an depending on caloric value and micro nutrient's.When cutting the cactus mucilage appears as a liquid. Because the pulp is for an average 15% solubility and adding water will release it more. Research done on Cactus mucilage did find applications in food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other industries. Mentioned its culinary properties as a fat substitute and as a flavour binder. The mucilage, a complex polysaccharide, is part of dietary fibre and has the capacity to absorb large amounts of water, dissolving and dispersing itself and forming viscous or gelatinous colloids.

The mucilage is composed of arabinose, GA lactose, rhamnose and galacturonic acid, the latter being in proportions of 17·6 to 24·7%, depending on whether it comes from fruit or cladodes. The mucilage content of cactus cladodes influenced by some effects associated with the management of this crop. The climate temperature would influence the mucilage content and include rain and irrigation. These effects are important when you look at the cladodes as a source of mucilage.

The clear effect of pH on viscosity in a water dispersion of the mucilage (0·44% p/v) reaching values of 58·1 cps at pH 6·6. CaHrdenas & Gooicolea (1997) and CaHrdenas et al. (1997) studied several aspects of mucilage and obtained a yield of 0·07%, showing that the polymer had a weight average molecular mass (M8) of 3]106 and an average molecular mass (M/) of 2·4]106, with a poly-disparity index (M8/M/) of 1·4. Both M8 and M/ values exceeded those previously reported for the polysaccharide.

Regarding the rheological properties of mucilage solutions with different concentrations of NaCl 0·1 M, the same authors reported that the rheological behaviour was similar to that of polysaccharide chains when little deformation was used. The mechanical response observed was characteristic of an entangled network of disordered polymer coils. Reported quantitative benefits from cactus mucilage in a physical process to improve water infiltration in soils.

A method known in some countries for clarifying drinking water uses cactus mucilage as an agent and has been used for many years by small farmers in Chile.

Cactus flower.

Flowers of the plant are used as natural food colorants and in cosmetic. Very often one can also find offerings of prickly pear seed oils, which have not been won from the seeds, but from maceration. Maceration is basically a quite simple process in which the blossoms of the prickly pears are inserted into oil and temporarily kept at average room temperature, so that the blossoms can be "leached out" by the carrier oil.By chosing a mixture of oils similar to the cactus seed based oils it is difficult to make the distinction but they are healthy and have good properties but not the quality associated with the real seed based products. It is important too to realise that cactus oil is not only the most expensive oil in the world but also its life-time limited. Chemical not stabile and in time affected.

This macerate won by infusing prickly pear blossoms may be offered as prickly pear flower oil but not as prickly pear seed oil. The macerate is low-priced, but does not offer the excellent qualities of the pure genuine prickly pear seed oil by far. In case of ill-defined product names, it is very important to verify if the offered product is prickly pear seed oil based or not.

Prickly pear seed oil itself offers a very high amount of essential fatty acids in natural compound. Prickly pear seed oil contains more than 88 per cent of unsaturated fatty acid with a proportion of approx. 70 per cent of linoleic acid (Omega 6 fatty acid). Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acid and is considered as an essential fatty acid, i.e. this fatty acid is absolutely indispensable for many different metabolic processes of the human organism, which is not able to produce this acid itself. Hence, prickly pear seed oil has to be judged as very valuable in terms of nutritional physiology and it is also particularly suited for the use in the production of dietary supplements.

Free radicals are known to promote the skin ageing process. Primarily, they originate from our toxic environmental poisons (ionized radiation: televisions, computers, mobile phones, ultraviolet rays, smog and ozone),alcohol, drugs and physical strain.

Alcoholic beverages and other products

Another alternative use of cactus pears is in the cottage industry preparation of alcoholic beverages such as ‘colonche’. ‘Colonche’ is obtained through fermentation of the juice and pulp in wooden barrels, a procedure with certain imperfections that, following this study, could be overcome. For example, the use of Saccharomyces cereviseae would resolve the lack of selection of yeast. ‘Colonche’ is a low-alcohol drink and is best when freshly fermented, as it quickly turns acidic (SaHenz, 1995).

Other studies made to obtain alcoholic beverages from cactus pears show the use of Saccharomyces cereviseae Montrachet whit SO2 (10 ml l~1) and citric acid to decrease the pH to 3·3 (Bustos, 1981). There is an important difference between fermenting at lower pH between 3-5 and the neutral or even light alkaline ph. Wine produced at conditions more like in the case of grapes about pH 4.5 fresher and more stabile than neutral or even alkaline. However there are chemical produced
products available in the alkaline process you never can get within the acid environment and quit different properties/qualities. The same applies to wine and alcohol produced from seaweed. Modern yeast types do work in both the environment being it acid prone or alkaline. Fermenting is a reductive process in chemical terms.

Flores (1992) carried out experiments in order to obtain wine and alcohol from prickly pears, the first of 11·163GL and the second of 56·23GL. Of the varieties used for wine, O. streptacantha and O. Robusta, both had similar, delicately pleasant, fruit-like characteristics. The alcohol, in turn, had fruit-like characteristics and a pleasant taste, with an initial and prevailing wine aroma. Blaisten (1968) obtained cactus pear alcohol from different varieties of the Opuntia genus, producing a distillate of 433GL with unique and defined organoleptic characteristics. Retamal et al.(1987), using both cladodes and fruits to obtain alcohol with different yeast strains of the Saccharomyces genus, found a sugar conversion of over 90% in the fruit and approximately 60% in cladodes.

Seed of Cactus fruit & oil

Within the seeds tissues, the fats and lipids are the first energy sources for the new plants, other defence compounds: the sterols, are large polar molecules which are difficult to solve in pure CO2, hence the solvent shall be modified by a co-solvent usually ethanol which adds polarity to the main solvent. Talking about fatty acids, in most of the cases includes linoleic acid and palmate acid; the first one: unsaturated, ‘unstable’, digestible; the second one: saturated, more stable, easy to accumulate into the veins and arteries. The main sterol fraction component in the plant’s oil is the ß-sitosterol currently studied in the growing control of human prostate and colon cancer cells.

These potential product that can be obtained during fruit processing is by seed oil. This oil is edible and has a yield range between 5·8 and 13·6% and shows a high grade of non-saturated acids, with a high content of linoleic acid (57·7 to 73·4%). These and other physical and chemical characteristics, including the refractive index, iodine number, and saponification number, make it similar to other edible vegetable oils such as corn or grape seed oil.

 

Oil content;

The amount of linoleic acid in prickly pear seeds is higher than that in majority of commonly consumed oils such as corn, soybean and cottonseed and close to that of safflower oil. In general, the higher level of unsaturation and particularly high level of linoleic acid in conjunction with the absence of linoleic acid, which affect adversely the stability of the oil. The use of seeds for their oil content may not be economically viable on its own but as part of the total process very rewarding, an integrated project whereby the fruit pulp could be utilized for the production of various food products along with the utilization of the seeds for edible oil and the resulting meal is gluten-free and can be used for various applications, e.g. bakery and as an emulsifier for functional foods.

Edible oil can be obtained from prickly pear seeds in yield of 5.8–13.6%. The oil has a high degree of unsaturation in fatty acids (82%) with a linoleic acid content of 73.4%. According to the investigation of Ramadan and Morsel using a chloroform/methanol as extraction solvent procedure of total lipids in seeds oil of cactus pear (O. ficus indica L.), linoleic acid was the dominating fatty acid (53.5%), followed by palmitic (20.1%) and oleic acids (18.3%).

Moreover, these oils have several applications in pharmacology, medicinal, and cosmetic fields. Other chemical compounds found are known as myristic, arachidic, eicosenoic, eicosadienoic, and behenic fatty acid.

Besides, prickly pear seed oil is rich in tocopherol (720 mg/litre). Tocopherol is the generic term for at least eight chemically similar structured compounds. Prickly pear seed oil consists of 13.9 per cent Alpha-Tocopherol, 81.9 per cent Gamma-Tocopherol, 3.0 per cent Beta-Tocopherol and 1.2 per cent Delta-Tocopherol. Most of the time, the term vitamin E is wrongly used for alpha-tocopherol – the most studied form of vitamin E. Vitamin E is used as general term for a group of sixteen lip soluble chemical compounds, which differ in their strength of efficacy. Those compounds also include all tocopherol. Tocopherol are responsible for the impressive effectiveness of prickly pear seed oil as natural antioxidant. It is particularly those "guardian angels", which are in charge of protecting all valuable unsaturated fatty acids against the destruction by free radicals.

There are several ways in which this valuable and expensive oil can be extracted. There is what is called cold pressing and in many way's similar to producing olive oil. Compared to our soxhlet n-hexane extract results, the SC-CO2 profiles fatty acids showed the richness of small proportion compounds such as eicosenoic, eicosadienoic, and behenic fatty acid. According to the investigation of Ramadan and Mörsel using a chloroform/methanol as extraction solvent procedure of total lipids in seeds oil of cactus pear, again linoleic acid was the dominating fatty acid (53.5%), followed by palmitic (20.1%) and oleic acids (18.3%).

Extraction by supercritical CO2 revealed other compounds found in low percentage such as vaccenic and margaric fatty acid.

The production procedure of prickly pear seed oil.

Prickly pear seed oil is extracted during a very time-consuming and laborious procedure. The production of 1 litre prickly pear seed oil takes 36 hours of manual labour, and about 1 million prickly pear seeds are needed. The seeds are separated from the pulp of a 470 kg contingent of prickly pears. Then they are washed carefully, air-dried under sunbeams and afterwards stored in a cool and dry place. On demand, the seeds will then be cold-pressed or extracted using solvents in a very careful way. The oil mix is not stable and ages over time, loss in value and quality. A concern for every cactus seed oil producer, the loss of parts of the valuable ingredients of the prickly pear seed oil, as for example the unsaturated fatty acids, the natural antioxidants as well as the vitamins. To avoid an oxidation of the fatty acids, some producers add antioxidants, mainly synthetic tocopherol and Ascorbyl palmitate to the prickly pear seed oil. The seed are stored and only the the oil produced after being ordered. The fatty acids seed oil has great potential use and be valuable in different areas of bio industrial implementation, nutraceuticals and pharmaceutical. These results provide a better opportunity to improve and to enhance the natural heritage that characterizes the prickly pear cactus. Prickly pear seed oil offers a very high amount of essential fatty acids in natural compound. Prickly pear seed oil contains more than 88 per cent of unsaturated fatty acid with a proportion of approx. 70 per cent of linoleic acid (Omega 6 fatty acid). Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acid and is considered as an essential fatty acid, i.e. this fatty acid is absolutely indispensable for many different metabolic processes of the human organism, which is not able to produce this acid itself. Hence, prickly pear seed oil has to be judged as very valuable in terms of nutritional physiology and it is also particularly suited for the use in the production of dietary supplements.

The different way's in which this oil is produced differ but not one could be classified as not satisfactory.

Example:

The SC-CO2 and soxhlet n-hexane extraction was applied to the extraction of oil seeds from wild and cultivated Tunisian O. ficus indica. The oil yields were higher by soxhlet n-hexane extraction, and the wild form gave the best results. The fatty acids profiles were investigated, and linoleic acid was the major compound followed by oleic acid and palmitic acid for the two forms and for the two-extraction process. The SC-CO2extract allowed a better extraction of unsaturated fatty acids for the cultivated form, and oils revealed a better extraction of small portion compounds.

Compared to the CO2 extractions, the soxhlet n-hexane extract allowed a better extraction of unsaturated fatty acids for the wild form, and the fatty acids profile did not identify some compound of lower proportion. The low extractable compounds of fatty acids and the purity of the SC-CO2extract are giving a better quality of oil.

Everything valuable is apt to be falsified. Evermore cosmetics manufacturers, food manufacturers and pharmaceutical manufacturers have recognized the effect of the prickly pear seed oil and successfully use it in their products. Nevertheless, the extremely time-consuming production of prickly pear seed oil as well as the special appreciation it is shown, lead to the fact that on the market prickly pear seed oils blended with simple oils can be found very often.

Cosmetics & skin

 

Cactus pear, which bears the name 'Nopal's' in Mexico, and is scientifically known as Opuntia (of varying species), can be found in the Western hemisphere in temperate and subtropical climates. The plant boasts some surprising properties.

Applications of the prickly pear seed oil used to protects the skin against premature aging (anti-aging activities).

To tightens the skin and prevents premature wrinkle formation.

Promotes a beautiful and healthy complexion.

Reduces the under-eye shadows and eye circles.

Very recommendable for dry and rough Hair.

Moisturizing and revitalizing.

Helps repairing fragile, fissured and lustreless Fingernails.

Not suitable as sunless tanning oil.

The ability of cactus pear extract Cactus pear extract to stimulate the Skin Nutrition's from the outside in the main reason for extended use. It has other important properties and uses but used in cosmetic the main part.

Credited for providing potent antioxidant and purifying, soothing and calming the skin to help prevent the appearance of redness and blotchiness. The vitamin E (tocopherol) is a natural antioxidant, which prevents the skin against radical damage. These oils have several applications in pharmacology, medicinal, and cosmetic fields. Other chemical compounds found are known as myristic, arachidic, eicosenoic, eicosadienoic, and behenic fatty acid.

Above all, prickly pear seed oil is rich in tocopherol (720 mg/litre). Tocopherol is the generic term for at least eight chemically similar structured compounds. Prickly pear

seed oil consists of 13.9 per cent Alpha-Tocopherol, 81.9 per cent Gamma-Tocopherol, 3.0 per cent Beta-Tocopherol and 1.2 per cent Delta-Tocopherol. Most of the time, the term vitamin E is wrongly used for alpha-tocopherol – the most studied form of vitamin E. Vitamin E is used as general term for a group of sixteen lip soluble chemical compounds, which differ in their strength of efficacy. Those compounds also include all tocopherol.

Tocopherol are responsible for the impressive effectiveness of prickly pear seed oil as natural antioxidant. It is particularly those "guardian angels", which are in charge of protecting all valuable unsaturated fatty acids against the destruction by free radicals. These free radicals are the main reason for skin aging, because they tackle and destroy our cellular tissue. Prickly pear oil activates the cell regeneration and support the skin with important vitamins and minerals, and as such a perfect ingredient for anti-wrinkle and anti-aging.

The pure oil is excellent as facial oil and be used for additional applications, e.g. day creams, after sun lotion and baby oils. Being able to suppress tumour growth in nude mice and helping prevent cancer.

Argan oil has more or less the same properties like prickly pear oil, but the important vitamin E content is significant higher than from Argan oil (938 mg / kg to 620 mg/kg).

 

Gel, jam and candy technologies

The use of cactus pear pulp to prepare gels, such as the apple or quince gels common to many countries’ markets, potential customers used to opens another possibility for this cactus derived products. The use of protective substances such as syrup, anti-oxidants, vitamins or solid sugar could improve the results of this preservation process. In the beginning there were some draw-backs, with increasing processing time, fruit firmness and stability decreased.

‘Nopalitos’ are a highly perishable vegetable crop when handled and marketed fresh, but with industrial transformation they can be conserved for a long time. Added a gelling agent and sugar to the pulp (35–40%); two pH levels were tested,

ph. 3·5 to prevent microbiological growth and

ph. 6·1 (the original of the cactus pear pulp);

a marked colour change was observed with pH 3·5 due to the transformation of chlorophyll intopheophytin, but the product maintained its chemical, physical and sensory characteristics for 14 more days at refrigeration temperatures (4–63C).

Several studies have been carried out in different countries on other cactus pear products and a brief summary below:

Sawaya et al. (1983a) manufactured prickly pear jam, with and without blanching the fruit; sensory evaluation tests resulted in non-significant differences.

The proportion was a prickly pear pulp: sugar ratio of 60:40; 1·25% pectin; citric acid or citric and tartaric 1:1. Flavours such as cloves, grapefruit extract, orange extract and almond flavour gave better results than other flavours tasted. In addition, the jam contained 20% date pulp.

Tirado (1986) made a jam with cladodes (cactus stems or pads) by, instead of the fruit, adding orange juice, orange peel, and sugar to the ratio 1:1·5:0·8:0·08. The jam had no microbial growth after 40 days of storage. This product showed no difference from other jams in the Mexican market (fig and orange) in aroma, colour, taste, texture and appearance.

Badillo (1987) made a jam with cladodes, sugar and citric acid in the proportion 1:0·6:0·01, obtaining a product with good sensory quality and microbiological stability.

SaHenz et al. (1995a) made a marmalade from cladodes using a previous treatment plus a 2% solution of Ca(OH)2 to lower the mucilage content, which damages texture and acceptability. The final formulation used lemon juice and lemon peel. The first lowered the pH and the second contributed pectin to the gelling of the product.

Vignoni et al. (1997) compared two cactus pear jams: one with lemon juice and lemon peel added, and the other without. They did not have significant differences, according to a Karlsruhe scale for sensory analysis.

Villarreal (1996) studied the manufacturing of candies from the cladodes. The author tested several proportions of sugar syrups (sucrose and glucose) and also tested sweet and bitter chocolate coatings; the products presented very good characteristics and

sensory quality, with a8 of 0·53–0·63. The energy value differed (306·3–340·4 Kcal 100 g~1), depending on whether the products were covered with chocolate or not. The acceptability was higher in the products covered with chocolate compared to the non-chocolate covered products.

With increasing processing time, fruit firmness decreased; however, it increased with the addition of 0·25% CaCl2 to the syrup. The processing of the fruit resulted in loss of texture, colour and flavour.

 

Dehydrated products

 

 

Dehydration is an age-old process of preserving food and many foods can be preserved just by drying it till moisture content of 10-15% depending on the product. Sun drying is the most common method used to preserve agricultural products in most tropical countries. The mentioned dried prickly pear is another edible form of the product but now with increased shelf life, much easier to store and ship.

By removing volatile components like water as other low boiling parts like alcohol or some flavours will be partly removed at the same and some relative small changes to quality will occur. During research these changes will be documented by analyses other as flavour and taste by test panels. Other less stable chemical compounds me start to degrade due to temperature and or direct sunshine. Most at risk are substances like vitamins and some others.

The substances degraded during drying are the same as the ones which will not pass unchanged or broken down by our digestive system. It is however important to differentiate between products we eat and the products applied to the skin. Many substances, which are broken down in our stomach, do pass through the skin in to the circulation without any changes.(Vitamins and bio-sulphurs)

The basis rules applied here based on thousands of years of experience is to keep the drying temperature of the air below 40 degrees centigrade and avoid direct sun light. Drying of products at places where the cactus does grow is normally not a problem because of the warm or hot climate and dry air will take care of that. The effect of direct sunlight easily compensated by using UV repel end plastic foil.

 

Past Medical uses

*The tuna or the Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) fruit is boiled then combined with honey, which is known to help in curing respiratory tract infections.

*The fruit of the Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) is eaten to help with such condition as arteriosclerosis, diarrhoea and a sore throat.

*The Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) pads can be used as heating pads to reduce swelling, muscle pains, muscle aches and are also utilized for dressing wounds and/or cuts.

*The pads' gel or sap can be applied to bruises, burns and cuts.

*Pureed or ground young Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) is used as a laxative while a paste out of Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) is used to treat toothaches.

*The Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) sap is known to alleviate pain and to soften the skin.

* Betalains are one of nature's most potent weapons in the war against pain and inflammation. These compounds are super-charged anti-inflammatories that may work to keep your body in shape and healthy, the way nature intended!

*Chronic low-level inflammation can lead to diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's, carpal tunnel syndrome, and heart disease to name just a few!

* As an added bonus, Betalains may also alleviate the pain associated with inflammation.

Prickly pears are members of the Cactacceae or cactus family, which includes about 97 genera and 1,600 species. The species are found in Europe, Mediterranean countries, Africa, south-western United States, and northern Mexico. Plants in the genus Opuntia prefer a dry, hot climate and consist of perennial shrubs, trees, and creeping plants.

Prickly pear can grow 5 to 8 m in height; its roots are shallow, but the plant can spread up to 40 m in diameter over the ground. The stems are branched, leaves are cylindrical in shape, and the plant is covered with barb-tipped bristles (known as glochids) that are unique to Opuntia . Its flowers, petals, and sepals are numerous in quantity and colour.

The oval, pear-shaped, purplish fruit is pulpy and sweet but may be covered with spines or bristles. The seeds within the pulp are disk-shaped and have numerous colours.

Chemistry

The medicinal components of the plant are found in the flowers, leaves or pads, and fruit.

Isorhamnetin-glucoside, kaempferol, luteolin, penduletin, piscidic acids, quercetin, rut in, and ß-sit sterol have been found in the flowers of prickly pear.

The leaves or pads are rich in mucilage and consist primarily of polysaccharides that contain GA lactose, arabinose, xylose, and rhamnose.

Prickly pear fruit is high in nutritional value. Ethanol-soluble carbohydrates are the most abundant components of prickly pear fruit pulp and skin, making up 50% of the pulp and 30% of the skin. The beta lain compounds are responsible for the various colours of the fruit.

The skin contains calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, and selenium.

The edible pulp contains biothiols, taurine, flavones, tocopherol, and carotenoids. However, industrial processing of juice components results in some loss of vitamins A, E, and C.

The seeds are rich in phosphorus and zinc. The oils from the seeds and peel are a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Several older chemical analyses of enzymes from Opuntia species are available. One study documents the volatile constituents of prickly pear, while another identifies the constituents of O. fragilis . Other studies discuss the chemistry of prickly pear, including isolation of albumin, amino acid composition in the fruits, and fatty acids of the seeds.

 

 


 

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