Nopal Cactus Health Benefits: What does the science say?

Nopal cactus (also called the prickly pear cactus) can be found in Mexico and in the southwestern parts of the United States. Namely, the flat cactus pads can be consumed only when the plant is young.

Nopal Cactus

Nopal Cactus

Once it becomes older, it can be very challenging to eat it. Additionally, this cactus can frequently be found in the dishes in some areas of Mexico. Many people consume it as a dietary veggie and purchase it in the farmers’ markets and grocery stores.

It’s worth mentioning that prickly pear cactus can also be eaten raw. You can dice it and it will look almost exactly like green pepper. Furthermore, you can make tea, juice, or jams out of it. Now, in case you didn’t know nopal cactus can be very beneficial for our health.

Read Also: Pre-Workout Supplements: What Does Science Say About Their Effectiveness

If you’re not familiar with this fact, yet you want to gather more information about it, then stay tuned because today we will get more into detail to provide you with everything that you need to know.

The Major Health Benefits Of Cacti

Can Help You With Weight Loss

Now, there are a plethora of components within this cactus that can help you get rid of excess fat. Namely, it is loaded with fiber that is going to make you feel full much faster and at the same time, hinder the release of ghrelin, which represents a hormone that is causing hunger,

This instantly means that you will no longer be overeating. Another great thing about this plant is the fact that it doesn’t contain a lot of cholesterol and saturated fat, however, it is loaded with minerals and vitamins.

This just goes to show that this plant is a low-calorie, healthy food. That’s precisely one of the reasons why people who are on a weight loss frequently consume it. Besides that, it is also packed with thiamin, vitamin B6, and riboflavin which are crucial for normal metabolic function.

Keep in mind, that vitamin deficiencies can negatively affect mitochondrial energy metabolism, which is why it’s of huge importance to consume B vitamins, especially if you want to boost fat burning and turn foods into usable energy.

Enhances Digestion

This type of cactus is a type of cacti, which means that it is extremely fibrous and can potentially be loaded with a huge amount of dietary fiber. It is widely known that precisely dietary fiber is crucial in the digestive process, meaning that it can increase bowel movements and make it much easier to go through the GI tract.

Besides that, the fiber that’s inside the nopal cactus can significantly decrease the symptoms of constipation and diarrhea. Furthermore, the soluble fiber that’s inside the body can lower the amount of cholesterol, which is extremely beneficial for your heart.

Are There Any Other Benefits That Weren’t Mentioned Yet?

It Can Potentially Prevent Cancer

A few years ago, one animal study was conducted on mice and it showcased that this plant can actually prevent tumors from growing inside their bodies. Additionally, supplementation that contains this cactus can inhibit ovarian, cervical, and bladder cancer cells.

Read Also: Diets High in Plant Proteins Protect Women from Dementia, Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer

Now, what needs to be noted is the fact that scientists are still unsure how this whole mechanism (regarding cancer) functions, hence, more research is necessary in order to confirm anything.

Eight years ago, another study has been conducted and it was concluded that cacti seed oil contains huge amounts of polyphenols which has excellent anti-cancer properties. More importantly, precisely this study has shown that this plant is a great source of gallic acid which forces a cytotoxic activity against numerous tumoral cells in lung and prostate cancers.

Aids With Skin Care

When it comes to this, you have two options. You can either consume cactus juice or incorporate the vegetable form into a meal. Both of these methods are going to protect your skin from the sun, prevent collagen loss and slow down aging.

How is this possible? Well, that’s because prickly pear cactus is loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and electrolytes that hydrate your skin and at the same time, protect it from the harmful UV rays.

Can Boost Metabolism

We previously mentioned that this cactus is packed with various vitamins and minerals, which is why it is extremely beneficial for our health. It is loaded with riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin B6 and niacin which are all essential components of metabolism and behave as co-enzymes that are crucial in numerous metabolic actions.

Namely, if you have an optimal hormonal balance and good health, you are going to lose weight much faster and at the same time, promote healthy muscle gain which is essential for toning your whole body.

Amazing For Detoxifying

As previously stated, this plant is an omnipotent antioxidant, that is packed with a variety of different vitamins and minerals and that’s precisely why it is an amazing tool for detoxifying. Besides these things, it is also loaded with Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and C, along with minerals such as calcium, potassium, and a lot of fiber.

Furthermore, it is a great source of bioflavonoids and fiber and comes with seventeen types of amino acids. Moreover, detoxifying effects of this plant involve regulation of the GI tract along with decreasing fluid retention.

If you love salads and salsas, you can add it to them. It’s worth mentioning that you can also consume the fruit of the Nopal cactus as well, just make sure you prepare it the right way.

First, you must get rid of the thorns and then dice up a couple of pieces of this cactus and add them into the pico de gallo salsa (just an example) and combine it with tortilla chips. Also, you can make nopal cactus lemonade (which can be extremely refreshing, particularly during summer), or simply drink some lovely nopal cactus water.

It Enhances Sleep

It is widely known how crucial high-quality sleep is for our overall well-being, hence, if you’re currently having issues with it, then you should definitely make use of nopales. Namely, they are packed with magnesium which can be of huge help to anyone who is having trouble sleeping, plus it is highly beneficial when it comes to your muscles, nerves, and bones.

Can Be A Useful Anti-Inflammatory Agent

The juice from the leave of this plant has anti-inflammatory effects on numerous parts of our bodies, including the symptoms linked with joint pain, arthritis, and muscle strain.

Sixteen years ago, one study was published in Frontiers in Bioscience and it has shown that those who consume nopal cactus fruit juice can drastically decrease the markers of inflammation in their bodies, particularly C-reactive protein (also known as CRP).

Namely, precisely this protein is being produced when inflammation in our bodies is active. It’s worth mentioning that high levels of CRP are oftentimes associated with numerous health conditions, starting from heart-related issues, to autoimmune diseases, cancer, etc.

Therefore, it would be more than recommendable to start consuming this juice so you can try to lower CRP levels and inflammation and simultaneously, enhance your health in general.

It Can Help People Who Are Suffering From Diabetes

Now, when it comes to this study results are pretty mixed, however, there is some proof that has showcased that this type of cactus can demonstrate hypoglycemic activity. A study that has been published in the Complementary Health Practice journal has stated that patients who are suffering from type 2 diabetes should consume this plant due to the fact that it can help them decrease their blood glucose levels and generally manage this illness.

Good For Pain Relief

As was stated above, the prickly pear cactus is perfect for inflammation, hence, it means that it is ideal for pain as well, because once the inflammation is reduced, the pain decreases too.

Nutrition & Dosage

If you decide to consume nopal cactus in the form of a supplement, then (according to the instructions given by the manufacturers) you should have at least one dose of 500 to 650 milligrams per day. Just keep in mind, that more research is necessary in order to determine the precise dose of this plant. One cup of this raw cactus contains around:

  • 13.8 calories
  • 0.08 grams of fat
  • 1.14 grams of protein
  • 2.86 grams of carbs
  • 0.99 grams of sugar
  • 1.89 grams of fiber
  • 8 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 19.8 micrograms of vitamin A
  • 141 milligrams of calcium
  • 4.56 mcg of vitamin K

As you can see there are so many different benefits of nopal cactus, but unfortunately, it’s difficult to find relevant information about this plant online. That’s precisely why we’ve written this article, because who knows, maybe this cactus is exactly what you need to boost your health.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820065/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6461298/

https://www.jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(14)01021-1/fulltext

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