Tuna (prickly pear) for Liver Health?
June 24th, 2021
With summer in full swing, doesn’t it sound great to end your day with a nice cold beer or a glass of chilled wine? It sure does, but what about our liver!? Luckily there are specific foods you can eat that are native to Mexico which can in fact, help with liver detoxification and a hangover!
You may have heard of tuna, which is also known as prickly pear, or cactus pear. These are a little fruit of the cactus plant and range in color from deep red-green to yellow or even purple. There is a compound found in these tuna called betalains that help can help to prevent liver damage and actually help with liver functioning!
The liver is a vital organ and is involved in over 500 metabolic processes in the body, one of which is the most important process of filtration and removal of toxins from the body. All blood that leaves the stomach and intestine pass through the liver to be processed for nutrients and to metabolize drugs (such as alcohol), into a usable nontoxic form or to simply excrete. During this process the liver stimulates the release of a green liquid called bile, which comes from a little sack stored under our liver. Bile aids in the excretion and regulation of chemicals in the blood emanating from what we have ingested or been exposed to. The bile carries the waste products away from the liver and prepares them for excretion via the colon or kidneys.
Scientific investigations have revealed that specific phytochemicals in tuna have hepatoprotective abilities – meaning the ability to assist and protect with liver functioning, and detoxification abilities. Not only is tuna fruit high in vitamin C, Vitamin E and has plenty of antioxidants but it is also equipped with betalains. The betalains in the fruit are responsible for the bright pigments of the inner flesh but more importantly increase antioxidant activities in the liver to help with reducing inflammation and increasing the detoxification pathways. This assists in reducing the symptoms of hangovers by improving alcohol metabolism in the liver and reducing liver damage.
So go ahead and buy those nice ripe tunas from your local market. Make sure you peel the skin and be careful of the spines! If you are picking the fruit yourself, practice caution and always wear garden gloves as the little spines are everywhere! Look for the fruit with nice deep colors. If they are still green at the ends, they will not be fully ripe, which means the nutritional value will be less. Tuna fruits remain ripe for about a week, and they can be refrigerated for 3-4 days in a plastic bag to maintain freshness.
The antioxidant and nutritional properties of the betalains hugely reduces with heat, so the fruit is most potent when eaten raw or only heated for very short periods of time.
Give this liver loving recipe a try and impress your friends!
TUNA FRUIT AND COCONUT PUDDING
Makes 2 large dessert glasses
1.5 teaspoons Agar Agar Powder
4 tablespoon hot water
1 can (400ml) coconut cream
1/3 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Pinch of Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon Agar Agar Powder
½ cup hot water
4 tuna fruit blended to a puree
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
Juice of 1 lime
Shredded coconut and lime zest to serve
Use a small pot to dissolve the agar agar in 4 tablespoons of hot water, whisk in the coconut cream and coconut sugar and bring to the boil, stirring regularly, boil for 2 minutes. Let cool and add in the pinch of salt and vanilla essence. Set aside for 30 minutes and stir occasionally, until cooled.
Handle the tuna fruit with gloves (as they have very small spines), cut open and scoop out the inner contents, and blend well. In another small pot, dissolve the agar agar in ½ cup of hot water, and bring to the boil for 2 mins to activate. Add in the prickly pear puree, coconut sugar, and lime juice, mix well.
To set, evenly pour the coconut mix into 2 large dessert glasses and place in the fridge to set for 1 hour.
Take the glasses out of the fridge and pour the prickly pear mix on top and place back in the fridge to set for 2-3 hours. Before serving check it is set to the consistency you desire, and top each glass with shredded coconut, and lime zest. Enjoy the Liver promoting benefits!