Supplementation with cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) fruit decreases oxidative stress in healthy humans: A comparative study with vitamin C

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Abstract

Background: Cactus pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) fruit contains vitamin C and characteristic betalain pigments, the radical-scavenging properties and antioxidant activities of which have been shown in vitro. Objective: We investigated the effects of short-term supplementation with cactus pear fruit compared with vitamin C alone on total-body oxidative status in healthy humans. Design: In a randomized, crossover, double-treatment study, 18 healthy volunteers received either 250 g fresh fruit pulp or 75 mg vitamin C twice daily for 2 wk, with a 6-wk washout period between the treatments. Before (baseline) and after each treatment, 8-epiprostaglandin F2α (8-epi-PGF2α) and malondialdehyde in plasma, the ratio of reduced to oxidized glutathione (GSH:GSSG) in erythrocytes, and lipid hydroperoxides in LDL were measured as biomarkers of oxidative stress; plasma Trolox-equivalent antioxidant activity (TEAC) and vitamins A, E, and C were evaluated as indexes of antioxidant status. Results: Both treatments caused comparable increases compared with baseline in plasma concentrations of vitamin E and vitamin C (P < 0.05); vitamin A and TEAC did not change significantly. After supplementation with cactus pear fruit, 8-epi-PGF2α and malondialdehyde decreased by ≈30% and 75%, respectively; GSH:GSSG shifted toward a higher value (P < 0.05); and LDL hydroperoxides were reduced by almost one-half. Supplementation with vitamin C did not significantly affect any marker of oxidative stress. Conclusions: Consumption of cactus pear fruit positively affects the body's redox balance, decreases oxidative damage to lipids, and improves antioxidant status in healthy humans. Supplementation with vitamin C at a comparable dosage enhances overall antioxidant defense but does not significantly affect body oxidative stress. Components of cactus pear fruit other than antioxidant vitamins may play a role in the observed effects. © 2004 American Society for Clinical Nutrition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-395
Number of pages5
JournalTHE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION
Volume80
Publication statusPublished - 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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