Nopal, a thick and flat type of cactus also known as the prickly pear, can be eaten as a regular vegetable that packs some powerful nutrients and offers impressive health benefits.
Nopal cactus is low in calories but high in fiber and several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, K, B6, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Nopal is also high in antioxidants and other phytochemicals that can boost the immune system and reduce oxidative stress. Prickly pear is also a great choice for:
Several studies have shown that consuming nopal cactus can reduce glucose blood levels and help control diabetes and insulin resistance. This is partly due to nopal’s fiber content which slows the breakdown of carbohydrates and partly due to its high antioxidant content.
If you have high total cholesterol, nopal is the right plant for you. One study found that consuming nopal reduces overall levels of cholesterol, but especially the “bad” cholesterol, LDL.
Since nopal contains a variety of antioxidants, phytochemicals and flavonoid compounds, it’s excellent for cancer prevention. A high vitamin C and vitamin A content also helps – these vitamins have been found to boost the immune system and reduce the risk of several types of cancer, including oral, lung and skin cancer.
Nopal’s high fiber content is great news for your digestive system – per one cup, this cactus contains 3 g of dietary fiber which helps promote digestion and adds bulk to the bowel movements, making it easier to pass it through the digestive tract.
Since nopal is high in antioxidants, it has great anti-inflammatory properties which can help prevent atherosclerosis and plaque build up in arteries. It’s also high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which can improve overall cholesterol levels.