Prickly Pear Cacti (Opuntia spp.) Cladodes as a Functional Ingredient for Hyperglycemia Management: A Brief Narrative Review

Rao Raahim Kashif, Nathan M. D’cunha, Duane D. Mellor, Natalie I. Alexopoulos, Domenico Sergi, Nenad Naumovski

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The worldwide prevalence of obesity is increasing along with its comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). From a pathophysiological perspective, T2DM arises as a consequence of insulin resistance and pancreatic β-cell dysfunction, which together induce chronic hyperglycemia. The pharmacological treatment of T2DM specifically focuses on its management, rather than remission, with a lack of pharmacological agents to prevent the onset of the disease. Considering the role of unhealthy dietary patterns on the development of T2DM, identifying novel food ingredients and bioactive substances may provide new avenues by which to address the T2DM epidemic. In this brief review, we have summarized the latest findings on the consumption of the prickly pear (PP; Opuntia spp.) cladode as a potential nutritional tool for the management of hyperglycemia. The consumption of prickly pear cladodes was reported to exert hypoglycemic effects, making it a potential cost-effective nutritional intervention for the management of T2DM. Several studies have demonstrated that the consumption of prickly pear cladodes and the related products reduced post-prandial glucose levels. The cladodes’ high fiber content may be implicated in improving glycemic control, by affecting glucose absorption and effectively slowing its release into the blood circulation. Given these potential hypoglycemic effects, prickly pear cladodes may represent a potential functional food ingredient to improve glycemic control and counter the negative metabolic effects of the modern Western diet. Nonetheless, in consideration of the lack of evidence on the chronic effects of the prickly pear cladode, future research aimed at evaluating its long-term effects on glycemic control is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article number300
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

(c) 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( )

The research in this review was supported by the Faculty of Health Research Support Funding, University of Canberra, ACT, Australia. N.N. has received funding from Chiron Organic Health, which is registered with the University of Canberra Research and Innovation Office (Reg: UC-R00141).


  • Opuntia spp.
  • blood glucose
  • cladode
  • hyperglycemia
  • hypoglycemia
  • prickly pear
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus


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