Cacti, juniper, yucca and agave: their health benefits

It is worth mentioning the southwest of the United States, as the desert, sagebrush, tumbleweed come to mind … In this region, numerous plants grow that have been used by local inhabitants for thousands of years as food, tea, medicines and dyes. Plants have adapted to harsh conditions and are able to tolerate dryness and high temperatures.

Edible pine crowns rise above the plateaus and mountain slopes of the southwest. Native Indians often eat their seeds. Every six years, the pine trees bring a huge harvest. The resin contained in the stems is collected and used as a healing agent. In the past, this resin served the Indians as chewing gum. The wood of these trees does not rot.

Growing in Utah juniper used by people in a variety of ways. Berries are useful for inflammation of the urinary tract and skin problems such as eczema. Indian women make tea from it, which they drink during labor. Juniper extract – a remedy for indigestion. Navajo Indians use a decoction of branches, leaves and berries to dye wool. Roofs are covered with strips of juniper bark. Brushwood is an ideal fuel because it burns with a hot flame and produces little smoke.

Yucca is a southwestern wild plant with showy creamy white flowers. The sweet green fruit of the banana yucca tastes like a pumpkin. It is eaten fresh, baked or dried for winter use. In addition, edible yucca flowers taste like lettuce. Clothes are woven from long, stiff fibers of yucca, they are used to make belts, sandals, baskets, brushes, bags, bedding. The roots, rich in saponin, are used to make soaps and shampoos.

Saponins, reservatrol and other phytonutrients found in yucca have medicinal properties. Yucca helps regulate insulin and glucose levels, preventing blood sugar spikes.

Dietary fiber gives rise to a feeling of satiety, which allows you to regulate the amount of food consumed and, accordingly, weight. Yucca fiber lowers cholesterol levels and promotes cardiovascular health by balancing fatty acid levels. The potassium in yucca relieves pressure in blood vessels and arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease.

Dense and nutrient-rich, yucca roots contain valuable dietary fiber that stimulates intestinal motility and helps to cope with problems such as constipation and diarrhea. Hopi Indians take crushed yucca roots.

Yucca is rich in vitamin C – it contains more of it than other edible roots, which means that it is extremely important for the health of the immune system. Vitamin C stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, and also acts as an antioxidant, preventing free radicals from damaging internal organs and causing cell mutation.

Yucca effectively heals wounds, relieves arthritic pain, protects the skin and eyesight, and improves mental abilities.

Agave. For centuries, people have used the agave to make soaps, medicines, and food. Ropes and clothes are made from the fibers of this plant. Roasted stems and leaf bases of some varieties of agave make a nutrient-dense and hearty dish with a delicious molasses-like flavor. Agave buds are also edible. Agave stems are used to make nectar or syrup, a popular sweet liquid consumed in place of honey or sugar. Due to the fructose contained in the agave, this liquid is sweeter than honey and sugar and has a low glycemic index. Diabetics should use it in moderation. Agave nectar can be sprinkled on pancakes, waffles and toast.

The young shoots (nopales) of the cactus-like nopal plant, rich in soluble fiber, are widely used as a cure for high blood pressure. They can also lower blood cholesterol levels. Nopal fruit (tuna) contains a large amount of vitamin A and C. The pulp of the fruit is boiled to obtain a jelly. The flowers of the plant, rich in flavonoids, are used to make tea with diuretic properties.

Ferocactus purple contains a large amount of vitamins A and C. The huge tough needles of this fleshy plant give it a menacing appearance, but it is edible and very healthy. Its bright red flowers bear yellow fruits resembling miniature pineapples. The Indians ate both flowers and fruits. The flesh of the fruit contains black seeds that can be made into flour or eaten raw. Their taste is reminiscent of the taste of lemons and kiwi. Many Mexicans prefer tortillas made from these seeds over corn tortillas.

Saguaro cactus is a very important product for the inhabitants of the desert. Its reddish fruits are sweet and juicy and have the texture of dry figs. You can eat fresh fruits, squeeze juice out of them, dry them and use them as dried fruits, preserve them, make jam or syrup out of them.

This cactus has numerous health benefits that are not well known to the Western public.

Saguaro fruits are rich in vitamin B12, which is essential for the formation of blood cells and brain health. A lack of vitamin B12 leads to anemia and negatively affects the nervous system. B12 deficiency is a common problem for strict vegans, and this cactus can be a lifesaver for them.

The fruits of this plant contain an extremely large amount of vitamin C, which can slow down the aging process and prevent premature wrinkles. Vitamin C stimulates the immune system and protects the body from cardiovascular diseases, protects eyesight and helps to cope with labor pains. Saguaro fruits contain a large amount of fiber, which normalizes bowel function. Some Indians believe that this plant helps to cure rheumatism and have used it for this purpose since ancient times.

Saguaro contains nutrients that help replenish water in the body. Thus, the cactus is a real salvation for people tormented by thirst in the desert.


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