Opuntia ficus-indica as Nutritious Food Ingredient; Prevalence for Therapeutic Specialty
Background: It is predicted that the world’s population, specifically in arid and semi-arid regions, usually with complications such as water scarcity, climate change, soil erosion, and wind erosion, is facing food insecurity issue. Moreover, the outbreak of several diseases is further a burden on the people living in such areas. The growth of improved crop varieties which is compatible with agro-climatic conditions of the site such as Opuntia ficus-indica is the ray of hope. Multipurpose native crops like Opuntia ficus-indica is cultivated owing to it is drought tolerant ability and growth in different ranges of the environment. Furthermore, it has natural components that can not only be served as food but also the therapeutic ability for numerous diseases.
Objectives: The purpose of this review is concerning global issues such as food insecurity, malnutrition and their solution through natural products i.e. nutraceuticals. The target is to find one of the numerous approaches that can be adapted to focus on dealing with such problems.
Methodology: Opuntia ficus-indica has various nutraceutical uses that had been utilized in past but can further be accommodated for commercial utilization and public benefit. In this review, the therapeutic aspects of Opuntia ficus-indica have been elaborated with the utilization of its components to fight different diseases. Different studies from various scientists published in the form of research/review articles have been overviewed proving its physico-chemical elements to be beneficial in this aspect.
Results: Opuntia ficus-indica is not only a source of food but also has exponential components that serve as nutraceuticals including phytochemicals such as phenolics, vitamin C, flavonoids, betalains, and carotenoids. These components impart diverse beneficial effects on health and act as anti-ulcerogenic, anti-carcinogenic, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, anti-atherogenic, and immunomodulator.
Conclusion: Opuntia ficus-indica is a miracle of nature that has been bestowed upon us to reduce the risk of many calamities. It can not only be served as food but also imparts beneficial effects on health that not only reduces the chances of getting sick but also helps in alleviating the drastic effects of disease exposure.
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