Prickly pear cactus, known as nopal in Spanish, has long been a dietary staple in Mexico but has recently been gaining recognition for its health benefits in other parts of the world, too. These hearty green vegetables are harvested from prickly pear cacti plants (which are native to Mexico, Central America and the American southwest) when they are underdeveloped. Their texture is not unlike green beans or green peppers, although they also contain a gel-like substance similar to the aloe plant. Prickly pear cactus is delicious prepared in a variety of ways, whether it is cooked by grilling, sautéing or boiling, or enjoyed fresh in smoothies and juices.
Touted for its ability to combat health issues such as high cholesterol, colitis, obesity, diarrhea and viral infections, it is easy to see why prickly pear cactus has such a large number of fans. Keep reading to find out what is great about prickly pear cactus:
Bursting with Nutrients
Prickly pear cactus offers a great deal of health benefits thanks to its impressive lineup of nutrients and vitamins including beta carotene, calcium, copper, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C.
Helps Control Blood Sugar
Prickly pear cactus extract has long been used to help control blood sugar levels for individuals who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. It can help reduce spikes in glucose levels, which makes it easier to manage diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.
The extract derived from prickly pear cactus leaves is praised for its anti-inflammatory effects on the body which can improve conditions such as arthritis, muscle strains and joint pain. Whether you eat the vegetable or take the extract, you can enjoy relief from inflammation thanks to prickly pear cactus.
Rich in Antioxidants
Bursting with antioxidants such as flavonoid compounds, phytochemicals, rare betalains and vitamin C, prickly pear cactus is an excellent food to eat in order to boost the immune system. Antioxidants are amazingly beneficial compounds that go after free radicals in the body and eliminate them before they have a chance to mutate the DNA of healthy cells, which helps protect against a number of illnesses including several types of cancer.
This Mexican folk remedy has been around for a long time because it works! Eating prickly pear cactus or taking its supplement form prior to consuming large amounts of alcohol can vastly improve unpleasant hangover side effects including nausea, dry mouth and loss of appetite the next day. It is believed that the anti-inflammatory effects of prickly pear cactus are what help reduce hangover symptoms.
There are large amounts of dietary fiber in prickly pear cactus, which is an essential part of a healthy digestive process. Fiber makes it easier for bowel movements to pass through the digestive tract. It can also offer relief from constipation as well as diarrhea.
After seeing for yourself what is great about prickly pear cactus, you will definitely want to add the tasty and beneficial food to your regular dietary rotation for even greater health!