Origin and distribution of the prickly pear

The prickly pear, Opuntia ficus indica is a species of the cactus family, which belongs to the genus Opuntia. The prickly pear originates from regions of today's Mexico. Even the Aztecs cultivated and valued the prickly pear cactus. At the beginning of the 17th century, the prickly pear cactus was brought from America to the Mediterranean and also reached North Africa.

The prickly pear is probably one of the most frugal plants ever. The shrubby and tree-like plant, which grows from one to six meters tall. It grows mainly in extremely dry and semi-arid areas, where otherwise no agricultural use would be possible. The cultivation takes place by vegetative propagation by means of cuttings. The yellow to reddish-colored flowers growing at the end of the sprout reach a size of five to ten centimeters. The fruits, so the prickly pears, are ovate to oblong and can be colored from green to orange to red. The fruits are edible and taste sweet to slightly sour. Already 9,000 years ago, the Indians enjoyed Central America's prickly pear sorbet for breakfast.

The prickly pear fritters are often stocked with glochids and sometimes even with thorns. The underlying juicy pulp is about 1 cm thick. The fruits of the prickly pear cactus are used in many ways, eg. B. in naturopathy, in sports medicine. Their kernels also produce one of the finest oils, Opuntia Ficus Indica Seed Oil, the prickly pear seed oil.

Prickly pears Extraction of prickly pear seed oil

The production of prickly pear seed oil is a complex process. The fruits of the cactus plant are collected by hand only once a year. The harvest takes place shortly before or at maturity. After harvest, the fruits are gutted. First, the pulp is separated from the shell and then the kernels of the pulp. The cores are then washed and dried in sunlight. The last production step is the pressing of the dried kernels. The high-quality native prickly pear seed oil is pressed cold to preserve the valuable nutrients.

The yellowish-greenish oil has a nutty, slightly sour smell and feels dry. A less expensive method is chemical extraction. However, important nutrients are lost as they are either not filtered out efficiently enough or destroyed by repeated heating. All these steps make the production of the oil very expensive. The oil content of the kernels is also relatively low, from 100 kg of fruit only about 100 ml of oil are recovered.

Effect of prickly pear seed oil

Prickly pear seed oil contains a variety of valuable essential and mostly unsaturated fatty acids. The proportion of linoleic acid is particularly high at around 70 percent. Linoleic acid is part of the epidermis and fulfills an important barrier function. Their task is also to stabilize the structure of cell membranes and the skin.

Vitamins C and E (tocopherol) are also abundant in prickly pear oil. They act as antioxidants that trap free radicals. Prickly pear kernel oil still contains the omega fatty acids 3, 6, 7 and 9. The omega-3 fatty acids act together with the cactus chlorophyll soothing and anti-inflammatory. Proteins and amino acids promote collagen formation. Also a small proportion of phytosterols are contained in the prickly pear seed oil. They have revitalizing and moisturizing properties, are anti-inflammatory and relieve itching.

Organic prickly pear seed oil

The anabolic, high-quality active ingredient oil from the seeds of sun-ripened, North African prickly pears, rich in valuable antioxidants, restorative lipids, essential fatty acids and sterols, has a restructuring effect and softens the signs of premature skin aging. The precious SAFEAS organic Prickly Pear Anti Aging Oil absorbs immediately and retains the elasticity of the skin. SAFEAS prickly pear anti-aging oil is ideal for demanding, dry and mature skin.

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