Nopal, also called prickly pear, is a familiar sight on roadsides and fields across much of the United States.
This family of pad-forming cacti has been used in many ways by different cultures since ancient times.
It continues to be an important plant for food, animal forage and medicine.
Nopal has recently gained popularity in the United States for its health benefits.
The pads of the nopal are flayed open and cut into strips that are pickled, sautéed with onions, or blended into a refreshing drink.
Consumer reports show that nopal is the fifth most consumed vegetable in Mexico, by weight.
The sweet, red fruits, called tuna, taste a lot like strawberries and are used to make jelly and syrup.
The raw, inner pads are traditionally used to make an effective drawing poultice for wounds.
Nopal contains both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers.
The insoluble dietary fiber more commonly known as roughage, absorbs water and gently hastens food through the digestive track and contributes to regular bowel movements.
In addition the presence of insoluble fibers in the colon help to dilute the concentration of potential carcinogens that may be present.
Soluble fibers also contribute to regularity.
Furthermore Nopal is a gentle alternative to psyllium for those with a sensitivity or allergy to psyllium.
The powder has rapidly become one of the principal forms for consuming Nopal in many countries around the world.
The reason for this is three fold.
The ever increasing international demand no longer makes it feasible to transport vast quantities of fresh Nopal by air or sea.
Customer preference in consumption requires a more pharmaceutical approach to packaging for wider acceptance.
Shelf life and nutritional value are extended through the dehydration process.
A high amino acid, vitamin and mineral content makes Nopal an effective and nutritious low calorie food ingredient.
Nopal’s 17 amino acids, 8 of which are essential and must be ingested as food, provide you with more energy and less fatigue by helping the body to lower blood sugar; elevate moods, suppress the appetite and provide nutrients.
Fat build up is prevented, while fat break down and excretion is increased.
Insoluble fibers such as Lignin are known for increasing satiety and eliminating excessive binges.
Nopal’s vegetable protein helps the body pull fluids from the tissues back into the bloodstream thereby diminishing cellulite and fluid retention.
Also Nopal’s 17 amino acids, fibers, vitamins and minerals address the needs of a vegetarian diet.
Nopal cactus are very rich in insoluble and especially soluble dietary fiber.
They are also rich in vitamins especially vitamin-A, vitamin-C, and vitamin-K, but also riboflavin and vitamin-B6 and minerals.
Nopales have a high calcium content, but the nutrient is not biologically available because it is present as calcium oxalate, which is neither highly soluble nor easily absorbed through the intestinal wall.
Addition of nopales also reduces the glycemic effect of a mixed meal.
Nopal cactus are low carbohydrate and may help in the treatment of diabetes.
Nopal’s naturally available vitamins-A, B1, 2, 3, C and the minerals: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Iron, and Fibers in Lignin, Cellulose, Hemicelluloses, Pectin, Mucilage’s, and Gum form along with the 17 amino acids to help detoxify and support not only the liver but also the body in general.
Ammonia, free radicals and environmental toxins such as alcohol and cigarette smoke which all suppress the immune system, are removed by Nopal.
Polyphenolic and polysaccharidic components of Nopal were shown to improve immune function and inhibit of inflammatory mediators including C-reactive protein and Nitric Oxide.
Nopal also aids in the balancing and calming of the nervous system, which benefits the body’s overall function and acts as an age fighting antioxidant, improves the immune system optimization which increases energy naturally.
Here in this section, the Nopal cactus vegetable variety’s dietary fibers and mucilage control excess gastric acid production and protect the gastrointestinal mucus membranes.
This pH buffering and coating that Nopal offers, has been studied for the prevention of damage that may occur from ingesting an excess of spicy foods, alcohol, aspirin or other pharmaceuticals.
Clinical data shows that prickly pear cactus actually stimulates the healing of gastric ulcers soothing and significantly reduces gastrointestinal inflammation.
The regular ingestion of Nopal can help reduce and even eliminate the need for over the counter medications that many people use, to an excess at times, in controlling and temporarily soothing the symptoms without actually attacking the condition, as Nopal has shown to do.
More Health Benefits
Protects the Liver: Because Nopal contains antioxidant flavonoids, it helps neutralize free radicals before they can overtax the liver.
It also helps absorb toxins, decreasing the liver’s load.
By supporting the liver, it frees that organ to balance bodily functions, including the immune system.
Soothes the Stomach: Nopal contains a high amount of mucilage, which helps balance the pH of the stomach and soothes the stomach lining.
Tests have shown that Nopal stimulates the healing of stomach ulcers and reduces stomach inflammation.
Sweeps the Colon:The insoluble plant fibers in Nopal cactus provide dietary roughage, which make it easier to maintain bowel regularity.
Nopal also contains soluble plant fiber, which helps absorb toxins, including carcinogens and reduce inflammation as it sweeps the colon clean.
Scrubs Blood Vessels: Plaques are areas of inflammation that form on the walls of the blood vessels, where they trap blood fats that can harden or even block the arteries.
Nopal cactus sterols, along with its polyphenols and glycoproteins, serve as antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and keep plaques from forming.
Lowers Cholesterol: The fiber and sterols in Nopal bind with a bile salt in the intestines, which helps limit the amount of blood fats absorbed by the body, thereby lowering blood cholesterol levels.Tweet
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