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10 shocking health benefits of nopales

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Discover the 10 shocking health benefits of nopales.

The nopales can be considered as a type or a derivation of cactus that tend to be quite healthy and beneficial for health.

These include its ability to aid weight loss, prevent cancer, improve skin health, protect heart health, regulate and improve digestion, boost the immune system, optimize metabolic activity, build strong bones, cure insomnia. and reduce inflammation throughout the body.

What are nopales?

Nopales are a form of vegetable made from the soft pads of underdeveloped prickly pear cacti. Useful vegetative pads are green or purple and are about the size of a person’s hand.

They have a consistency somewhere between green beans and green peppers and are regularly added to eggs and sauteed steak.

They are native to Mexico and Central America, and it is in these kitchens that fresh nopales are found.


They are found primarily fresh in Mexico, either canned or pickled for export, particularly to the southwestern United States and Texas.

10 shocking health benefits of nopales


For gastrointestinal problems. The Nopal contains vitamins A, complex B, C, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, and more

It is a variety of cactus known for its medicinal properties. Pharmacopoeia has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disorders and to lower blood glucose levels in diabetics.

The nopal, rich in fiber, is also known for its slimming properties. Also, the fruit of the nopal, rich in mucilage, leads to a state of satiety and, therefore, is used as a dietary supplement, as an appetite suppressant.

Scientifically known as  Opuntia ficus-indica or more commonly known as nopal, it belongs to the Cactaceae family.


Native to Central America, it adapts to arid climates. The nopal quickly invaded the Mediterranean basin.

Modern medical research is slowly rediscovering its many properties.

A very nutritious and energetic food, it has, among other things, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, and neuroprotective effects.

Every part of this cactus is used.

Consists in:

• small leaves whose shape is similar to that of a cone,


• Fruits like berries, up to 300 seeds,

• Pistil flowers, stamens, and petals.

• Flat stems or cladodes up to 40 cm long.

History of the use of nopal in herbal medicine

Originally from Central America, the nopal was already used by Aztec medicine to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

In the form of an ointment and poultice, it relieved rheumatism and its juice applied to burns and wounds served as a cure.

In addition, very nutritious and energetic, it was and continues to be widely used in the traditional cuisine of Central America, like fresh fruit, but also as a vegetable, in jam, and an alcoholic beverage, the colonche.


Since its spread in the east, it is used by Ayurvedic medicine as a tonic and diuretic.

Botanical description of nopales

There are about four hundred species of prickly pears. This cactus of up to 5 m in height grows in large areas.

The nopal has large pads, also called snowshoes or cladodes, covered with hair and spines.

There are also spineless varieties. The cladodes of the Barbary fig, very fibrous, retain water and allow the plant to withstand heat and drought.

The nopal produces flowers of different colors, yellow, pink, or purple, depending on the species, and orange or purple fruit, edible, in the shape of a pear.

The nopal is enjoyed in hot and arid climates and effectively drains moisture from some lands.


Health Benefits of Nopales

All parts of nopales have been used for hundreds of years in both traditional and natural medicine due to their multiple nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties.

The cactus has been used to treat:

• glaucoma


• wounds

• fatigue

• liver conditions


• ulcers

The purported health benefits of fresh nopal juice include lowering blood sugar, healing wounds, and lowering cholesterol.

Human studies on the nopal cactus and its ability to treat or prevent disease are limited.

However, many studies have confirmed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the plant.

Let’s explore some of the health benefits of prickly pear cactus that people have been enjoying for thousands of years.

1.- Reduces cholesterol

The nopal leaf has been found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the body in research conducted at the University of Vienna.


Researchers in France verified the same effect in 68 women, who after four weeks saw a reduced level of cholesterol and triglycerides in their body.

This functional food is also linked to reducing the risks related to heart problems.

2.- Cure diabetes

The elevation of the blood sugar level in the body leads to various diseases, such as diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

Eating nopales leaf helps lower blood sugar levels in patients suffering from obesity and diabetes.

Research conducted at the University of Vienna among 24 non-obese patients who consumed cactus leaf showed an 11 percent decrease in blood sugar level, demonstrating its benefit for patients with diabetes.

3.- Fight cancer

Phenolics and flavonoids, two compounds with antioxidant properties, are found in the nopal leaf.


These antioxidants help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals that are linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In the June 2009 issue of “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition,” it was reported that phytochemical compounds in prickly pear cactus slowed cell growth in colon, liver, breast, and prostate cancer without impact. negative in healthy cells.

4.- Improves digestion

Eating nopales has also helped improve the digestion process in humans.

Nopales help reduce cellulite while improving the body’s ability to retain water to speed up bowel movements.

This fiber-rich food reduces carcinogens and improves digestive health in humans.

5.- Helps to lose weight

Nopales are a low-calorie food rich in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, which makes them beneficial for weight loss.


With 17 amino acids, 8 being essential, it provides a good amount of energy and serves 16 calories per 100 g of intake.

6.- Protects brain cells from damage

The steam and the fruits of the nopales have a 3-methyl quercetin compound, a flavonoid that is considered a powerful neuroprotector.

This neuroprotector protects neural cells in the brain, thus protecting brain cells from damage.

7.- Reduces inflammation

Nopales are also said to possess anti-inflammatory properties that fight burns to the muscles, cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal tract, and arteries.

It has been found to possess bio-flavonoid quercetin that neutralizes cell-damaging compounds and serves as a pain reliever with its anti-inflammatory properties.

It also contains anti-ulcer properties that fight edema and restrict leukocyte migration.


Word of Caution:  Due to their ability to regulate and affect blood sugar levels, nopales can sometimes make people hypoglycemic and should not be consumed in excess before an operation.

Aside from these health concerns, nopales are a delicious and highly nutritious addition to your diet.

Use and dosage of nopales

Nopales come in different shapes, different packages, and different dosages.

  • To achieve a satiety effect in the context of a diet, it is generally advisable to take a nopal capsule in the morning, at noon, and at night.

The hypoglycemic action of prickly pear appears to be most effective when absorbed 15 to 30 minutes before a meal.

  • To combat gastric pain, it is recommended to take a nopal flower extract, at a rate of 0.3 ml to 1 ml, 3 times a day.

In addition, the action of the nopal seems to be significantly accentuated by the simultaneous intake of other food supplements, such as vegetable chitosan, to improve weight loss, mate for satiety, olive tree, and fenugreek. For mild diabetes, and garcinia for weight stabilization.

  • For the treatment of diabetes, obesity, gastric and intestinal disorders and, more generally, for any nopal intake, strictly follow the instructions of health professionals, doctors, and pharmacists

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