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Functional Components and Medicinal Properties of Cactus Products

Part of the Integrating Food Science and Engineering Knowledge Into the Food Chain book series (ISEKI-Food,volume 12)

Abstract

The chapter refers to the cactus plants, specially the Opuntia genus, that grow up in arid and semiarid environments under hard hydric stress conditions. The functional phytochemicals of the plant parts, such as fruits, cladodes, flowers, and seeds, and their uses in food preparations are described. A revision of the bioactive constituents, like mucilage, fibers, pigments, and antioxidants, was done, indicating that the cactus plants may be efficiently used as a source of these compounds. This plant is consumed both as fresh foods, e.g., fruits, fresh cladodes named “nopalitos,” and their juices, and processed products such as nopal flour, keeping its functional properties. A review of the latest reports about the medicinal properties of the cactus products is included, showing the benefits to prevent different diseases. This chapter describes cacti as multifunctional plants that offer the possibility of taking advantages from the whole plant, which impacts positively on regional economies of arid and semiarid lands where population deals with subsistence economies.

Keywords

  • Opuntia ficus-indica
  • Cactaceae
  • Betalains
  • Mucilage
  • Nopal
  • Phytochemicals

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Iturriaga, L., Nazareno, M. (2016). Functional Components and Medicinal Properties of Cactus Products. In: Kristbergsson, K., Ötles, S. (eds) Functional Properties of Traditional Foods. Integrating Food Science and Engineering Knowledge Into the Food Chain, vol 12. Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-7662-8_18

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