Is Nopal Cactus Good For You

Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are abundant in prickly pear fruit and nopales.

They are a nourishing complement to a balanced diet and may help lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and inflammation.

Although the usage of nopal cactus leaves and extracts as a herbal cure can aid in the management of a number of medical issues, patients shouldn’t cease receiving their regular medical care.

However, consuming these foods in addition to conventional therapy may have favorable impacts.

What are the nopal cactus’ health advantages?

Native to Mexico and the southwestern United States, the nopal cactus is also referred to as the prickly pear cactus. When the plant is young, the flat cactus pads can be eaten. The cactus becomes too difficult to consume as it ages. In some parts of Mexico, the nopal cactus is frequently used as a food ingredient.

The nopal cactus can be used in a variety of ways, such as in jellies, candies, and as a tool to help plaster harden. Due to the numerous health advantages of this cactus, there are a variety of therapeutic uses as well.

Nopal: Is it a superfood?

Native to Mexico, nopal cactus is a frequent fresh food. However, one Mexican provider claims that the high-fiber, high-calcium powder formulation is the one that truly qualifies as a superfood.

The native nopal cactus of Mexico is prominently shown on the nation’s flag and is a well-known component either used fresh or brine-preserved.

The fruit, known in English as a prickly pear or tuna in Spanish, is used to make sweets, pastries, and jellies, while the cactus “leaves” are consumed like vegetables in traditional foods including salads, tacos, soups, and stews.

Increasingly popular in Europe and the US due to its nutritional benefits is nopal powder. However, Nopalea, a Mexican business, wants to elevate high-fiber nopal powder to superfood status in its domestic market.

Founder and CEO Miguel ngel Davila Garza told FoodNavigator that nopal has been a food source and a significant component of traditional cuisine in Mexico for hundreds of years, since the time of the Aztec civilisation.

Due to its medical characteristics, which assist the body handle a variety of illnesses, it is now becoming more and more popular in the United States and Europe.

But compared to other nations, Mexico has the significant advantage because almost all of the populace is aware of the cactus’ benefits, even if they are unaware of [the precise nutritional advantages].

A subtle, fresh flavor

According to the firm, nopal has a texture akin to asparagus and a mild flavor with a tinge of acidity. When eaten fresh, it has a high water content, but when it is dried and ground into a powder, the fiber content increases to about 50%.

The primary product of Nopalea since it started producing in 2002 has been nopal powder, which it sells to businesses that produce foods and drinks like cereal bars, beer, tortillas, and tea.

The heat-stable dry powder, according to Davila Garza, is simple to add to existing recipes and can improve the nutritional content of processed foods.

According to him, the powder is used to add fiber in small amounts to traditional low-fiber items including tortillas, bread, cookies, desserts, and beverages.

New product launches

Nopalea, which has its headquarters in Monterrey, one of Mexico’s most significant industrial and commercial hubs, currently produces about 30 tons of nopal annually (from 450 tons of fresh nopal), and the product has a two-year guaranteed shelf life. It is sold in 25-kilogram bags and one-ton pallets.

“Industry has always been one of our primary target areas, but this year, according to Davila Garza, we are beginning with new shelf products.

“According to the CEO, nopal leaf slices are blended with chunks of pineapple or tamarind, [marinated in] chamoy salsa, and a chilli powder concoction that is sweetened with stevia.

A classic Mexican condiment with a salty, sweet, and spicy flavor, chamoy is prepared from pickled fruit.

A nutrient-rich marzipan created with peanuts, amaranth, nopal, spirulina, and sugar is the second new product from Nopalea.

Driving domestic demand

The business purchases fresh cactus from several partners in various states in Mexico as well as from its own growing operations, where it raises two varieties—nopalea and copena.

100 of the 256 types of nopal are grown in Mexico, according to Davila Garza.

Although nopal is native to America and is an important part of Mexican culture—it is even shown on our flag—the majority of Latin American nations do not eat it. They are unaware of the advantages of this cactus.

“In Mexico, demand is consistent throughout the year with only brief spikes during holidays like Christmas and Easter.

“Nopal veggies are in high demand on the native Mexican market, which follows predictable trends. Geographically, the nopalito market is confined to the center of the nation, with demand being lower in the northern states and virtually nonexistent in the coastal states and tropical region, he said, adding that this was due in part to cultural factors and in part to inefficient distribution in these areas.

Bringing the beer back home

Because of this widespread ignorance, the majority of Nopalea’s production is currently exported to Europe, with France and the Czech Republic being the two leading export destinations.

Davila Garza, however, asserted that growing customer demand in Mexico and the rest of Latin America for the fiber-rich cactus was “On the company’s agenda, without a doubt.

In fact, Nopalea will begin brewing a nopal beer in Mexico as of this month (January 2019). The beer was previously made in the Czech Republic by a Czech brewer using nopal powder that was sent to him.

According to Davila Garza, the Mexican craft beer business is expanding even if the beer produced in Mexico is still intended for the European market.

“Since this cactus is a characteristic of Mexico, I’ve been asked numerous times why cactus beer is not produced there.

What advantages do cacti have as food?

In addition to their medical use, cacti are known for their nutritional worth. Both cactus pads and cactus fruit have anti-infective properties that can assist with everything from hangovers to high cholesterol problems.

The following are a few of the cactus’ health advantages:

The cactus fruit and pad are both rich in fiber, which can reduce blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, eating cactus can lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and body fat. Your chance of developing conditions including stroke, coronary heart disease, and peripheral vascular illnesses can be lowered by include cactus fruits in your diet.

Iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and more are all found in cacti. This extensive spectrum of nutrients and others can aid in lowering inflammatory levels in the body. According to research, taking cactus extract after consuming five to seven alcoholic beverages helped reduce the severity of hangover symptoms (such as nausea, vomiting, or dry mouth). The body’s inflammation, which is frequently related to alcohol consumption, was also decreased by the cactus extract.

A number of diseases, including diabetes, a stroke, and heart disease, can all be indicated by high blood sugar levels in the body. A Mexican study compared the diets of those who regularly ate cactus pads to those who didn’t, and it found that those who did had significantly lower blood sugar levels than those who didn’t. According to the study, eating cactus may be a cheap approach for those with diabetes to lower their blood sugar levels.

Particularly cactus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, one of the finest immune enhancers. White blood cell production is boosted by regular vitamin C intake, which can lower your risk of infection and help your body fight off viruses if you become infected.

Are nopales healthy for the stomach?

Because nopal is a type of cactus, it has a large amount of dietary fiber that is crucial for the digestive process. Nopal’s fiber content makes it easier for bowel motions to travel through the digestive tract, which helps to alleviate constipation and diarrhea. In addition, the fiber in cactus helps people feel fuller for longer by blocking the release of the hormone ghrelin, which causes appetite and leads to overeating. Nopal is abundant in vitamins B6, thiamin, and riboflavin, all of which promote fat burning and the transformation of food into energy the body can use. However, it is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Does nopal benefit the kidneys?

Nopal is a big prickly pear cactus that is indigenous to dry regions of South and North America. It is traditionally consumed by Mexicans as food and used medicinally as a laxative, anti-inflammatory, and to treat high blood sugar and alcohol hangovers.

Nopal has a blood sugar-lowering function, but the precise mechanism is unknown, despite the fact that it contains significant levels of soluble fiber and pectin, which may impact how well glucose is absorbed. Although earlier research disputes fiber’s significance in lowering blood glucose levels in animal trials, it does not propose a substitute mechanism. 34 Opuntia extract (1 mg/kg body weight) used for 7 weeks in conjunction with insulin and then Opuntia extract alone allowed blood sugar levels to quickly revert to those of non-diabetic rats. In a recent animal experiment, diabetic rats treated with streptozotocin (STZ) were given liquid and filtered extracts of Opuntia streptacantha to see how they would react. 35 The extracts weren’t able to lower blood sugar levels. But when administered before an OGTT, it had an antihyperglycemic effect, indicating a potential mechanism involving inhibiting hepatic glucose outflow.

A mild to moderately positive effect on people with T2DM has been confirmed by a number of small (N = 732) published clinical trials (all carried out by the same research group) utilizing various forms and doses of Opuntia species.


The broiled stem of Opuntia streptacantha, which was administered as a dose of 100–500 g per day, was the most popular type of nopal utilized in the experiments.

Nopal should not be consumed by those who are nursing, pregnant, or have kidney problems. Bloating in the stomach area, diarrhea, and nausea are possible side effects. In people using antidiabetic drugs, it should be used cautiously (one case report). 40

Does eating nopal help you lose weight?

If you are unfamiliar with nopales, they are the thick, flat, oval stems of the cactus plant and are consumed similarly to vegetables. In fact, one of the key ingredients in traditional Mexican food are the young, sensitive pads of the nopales, known as nopalitos. Many people mistake nopales for leaves when they are, in fact, the cactus’ stems.

Nopales are a low calorie vegetable with only 16 calories per 100 grams, making them a wonderful addition to a diet low in calories. In particular, non-carbohydrate polysaccharides including hemicellulose, mucilage, and pectin are abundant in these delicious veggies’ nutritional fiber.

Nopales, or the pads of a cactus, are very nutritious. They provide beta carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A, as well as vitamin A. Nopal pads also contain trace levels of the B-complex vitamins B-6, thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. A serving of nopales provides you with 15% of your daily requirement for vitamin C.

How may nopales be incorporated into a diet? They taste best when consumed raw in a salad. They make an excellent snack meal when used fresh in your own homemade salsa. In addition, nopales can be prepared similarly to other vegetables and served as a side dish or added to stews and soups. The nopales make a great side dish when roasted or grilled. By chopping them and putting them to scrambled eggs along with tomatoes and onions for breakfast, you can include them. Cactus pad juice has become a well-liked beverage, and pickled nopales make a great starter.

Nopales may be consumed uncooked.

The nopal cactus’ pads are known as “nopales” or “nopalitos. In the American Southwest and Mexico, they are frequently found in eateries, supermarkets, and farmers’ markets as a nutritional vegetable.

They can be prepared as a side dish with tomatoes and onions or sauteed and added to a variety of recipes, including as tacos and scrambled eggs.

Raw nopales can also be eaten. They look like green peppers when they are diced. Additionally, they can be made into tea, jams, or juice.

The small, spherical, and frequently colorful fruit of the nopal plant is another edible option for people.

Mexico’s health-conscious population enjoys drinking prickly pear fruit juice.

What flavor does nopal have?

Various Names Nopales, npalli (plural) Description The Opuntia ficus-indica cactus, from which prickly pears are also obtained, also produces nopales, which are the juvenile pads of the plant. In Mexico, they are consumed like a vegetable once the spines have been removed. How does it taste? Nopales have a slightly chewy, moist, crunchy texture.

The Opuntia ficus-indica cactus, from which prickly pears are also obtained, also produces nopales, which are the juvenile pads of the plant. In Mexico, they are consumed like a vegetable once the spines have been removed.

Similar to okra, nopales have a wet, crisp, slightly slimy texture. They have a tangy flavor with a little citrus undertone.

They can be found fresh in the majority of Latin American supermarkets, and in places with a significant Hispanic population, you could even find them in western supermarkets. They are also available in canned or bottled form.

Nopales have no season, but the pads ought to be chosen when they are still young. Look for tiny, sensitive pads with tight-fitting, firm skin. They should be brilliant green in color and not spongy or wrinkled.

Nopales can be served as a vegetable by themselves, with eggs, in tacos, or grilled, pickled, or sauteed.


High in dietary fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A and C.

Does cactus benefit hair?

Commonly used in shampoo and conditioner formulas, cactus water transforms lifeless, dry hair into lustrous, bouncy, healthy hair. Due to its high concentration of amino acids and iron, both of which are necessary for hair growth, it contains qualities that help revitalize hair.

Are cacti beneficial for inflammation?

The prickly pear cactus, often referred to as nopal, opuntia, and other names, is marketed as a remedy for hangovers, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. It is also praised for having anti-inflammatory and antiviral qualities.

How long are nopales cooked?

1. Place a pot of water on the fire and bring to a boil. If desired, add a generous teaspoon of salt and a few crushed garlic cloves. Boil the nopales for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are soft. The gelatinous fluid that will seep out of the nopales needs to be removed by boiling. When tender, drain thoroughly before including in recipe.

2. Heat a small amount of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for a few minutes after adding the prepared nopales and a small amount of salt (to taste). Put a lid on it and moderate the heat. 20 minutes should pass as the food cooks and sweats, or until the goo has dried and leaked out.