Prickly Pear Cacti (Opuntia spp.) Cladodes as a Functional Ingredient for Hyperglycemia Management: a Brief Narrative Review

Rao Raahim Kashif, Nathan M. D’cunha, Duane D. Mellor, Natalie I. Alexopoulos, Domenico Sergi, Nenad Naumovski

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Abstract

The worldwide prevalence of obesity is increasing along with its comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). From a pathophysiological perspective, T2DM arises as a consequence of insulin resistance and pancreatic β-cell dysfunction, which together induce chronic hyperglycemia. The pharmacological treatment of T2DM specifically focuses on its management, rather than remission, with a lack of pharmacological agents to prevent the onset of the disease. Considering the role of unhealthy dietary patterns on the development of T2DM, identifying novel food ingredients and bioactive substances may provide new avenues by which to address the T2DM epidemic. In this brief review, we have summarized the latest findings on the consumption of the prickly pear (PP; Opuntia spp.) cladode as a potential nutritional tool for the management of hyperglycemia. The consumption of prickly pear cladodes was reported to exert hypoglycemic effects, making it a potential cost-effective nutritional intervention for the management of T2DM. Several studies have demonstrated that the consumption of prickly pear cladodes and the related products reduced post-prandial glucose levels. The cladodes’ high fiber content may be implicated in improving glycemic control, by affecting glucose absorption and effectively slowing its release into the blood circulation. Given these potential hypoglycemic effects, prickly pear cladodes may represent a potential functional food ingredient to improve glycemic control and counter the negative metabolic effects of the modern Western diet. Nonetheless, in consideration of the lack of evidence on the chronic effects of the prickly pear cladode, future research aimed at evaluating its long-term effects on glycemic control is warranted
Original languageEnglish
Article number300
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalMedicina
Volume58
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022

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