Nopal cactus, also called prickly pear cactus, is a staple in Mexican cuisine. It is added to Mexican salads, tacos and eggs and in recent times it has been hailed as a superfood for its anti-oxidant properties. Nopal cactus is rich in betalains and reduces blood glucose levels so has some benefits for diabetics.
Preparing Nopal Cactus
In Spanish the vegetable is called nopales and is added to scrambled eggs after the spines are removed from the pads. It can also be cooked into a vegetable medley, or tossed raw in salads. The cactus has a red pear fruit that tastes much like watermelon. Eat the fruit raw or use it to make a fruit drink after you remove the spine and skin.
Health Benefits of Nopal Cactus
Use It To Reduce Cholesterol Levels
Mexicans have been reaping the cholesterol lowering benefits of the vegetable for centuries, but in recent times people across the U.S. and other parts of the world are embracing the fruit as a part of raw food diets. Medical studies have proven the vegetable’s ability to reduce LDL cholesterol levels. A group of patients, after eating the pear for six weeks, found that their livers were better able to regulate LDL cholesterol.
Anti-oxidant Properties of Nopal Cactus
The prickly pear fruit on the Nopal Cactus plant has captured the attention of the scientific community because it is rich in betalains. No other plant provides as much, not even beets or Swiss chards. Betalains are phytochemicals which give fruits their rich red color. They can also be classified as glycosides, helping to reduce the glucose levels in the bloodstream.
As an anti-oxidant, betalain keep the lining of blood vessels and lymph system intact. It also protects the vascular endothelial cells from free radical alteration.
Nopal Cactus Cleans the Colon
Nopal cactus contains insoluble plant fibers which serve as dietary roughage to promote regular bowel movements. The soluble plant fibers also found in the plant help to absorb toxins as it cleans the colon.
Soothes the Stomach
Mucilage in the Nopalcactus maintains a normal PH balance in the stomach and sooths the lining. It can be used to successfully heal ulcers and reduce inflammation in the stomach.
Protects the Liver
The antioxidants flavonoids in Nopal neutralize free radicals before they do damage to the liver. They absorb harmful toxins in the liver so it could properly focus on balancing bodily functions.
If you’re feeling the aftereffects of too much alcohol consumption, Nopal can help too. It soothes the stomach, rehydrates the body from the drying effects of alcohol and improves liver function. Take it after drinking and you won’t have the hangover feeling.
The fiber content in Nopal creates a filling sensation in your stomach so you’ll eat less if you eat more of it during your meal. Since it stabilizes blood sugar you’ll not have hunger pangs between meals.