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Regular ingestion of opuntia robusta lowers oxidation injury.

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Clinical Division of Oncology, University of Vienna, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


The influence of opuntia robusta (prickly pear), a traditionally used dietary nutrient against diabetes mellitus among the American Indian population, was examined in 15 young patients suffering from familial heterozygous isolated hypercholesterolemia. Oxidation injury was determined via 8-epi-PGF(2 alpha)in plasma, serum and urine. Daily consumption of 250 g broiled edible pulp of prickly pear had no influence on body weight and body fat composition. Total cholesterol was lowered (P<0.01) as was LDL-cholesterol (P<0.04). No significant changes were observed either in triglycerides or in HDL. Prickly pear induced a significant decrease in plasma (27.9+/-3.3-->25.6+/-3.2;P<0.03), serum (302.0+/-11.4-->283.2+/-14.5;P<0.0003) and urinary (355.9+/-18.4-->323.9+/-16;P<0.00002) 8-epi-PGF(2alpha)values. The findings on a decrease of 8-epi-PGF(2alpha)were more pronounced in females than in males, the highest significance being found in urine, while, in contrast, the effects on total- and LDL-cholesterol were more pronounced in males. A prerunning 4 weeks period of dietary counseling had no significant effect on either of the parameters examined. These findings indicate that the regular ingestion of opuntia robusta is able to significantly reduce in-vivo oxidation injury in a group of patients suffering from familial hypercholesterolemia. This traditional food of the American Indians thus may have a significant cardiovascular benefit.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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