Although it has been an important part of the diet in Mexico for centuries, prickly pear cactus, called nopal in Spanish, has been enjoying the spotlight recently in other countries as well thanks to the wealth of health benefits it offers. Native to Mexico, Central America and the American southwest, these filling vegetables are harvested from the prickly pear cactus plant before they are fully developed. They have a consistency that is similar to green beans or green peppers and they have a gel-like substance much like the aloe plant. Whether it is sautéed, boiled or grilled, or used fresh in juices and smoothies, prickly pear cactus is a tasty and nutritious vegetable that can help enhance your wellness in many ways.
Praised for its ability to battle health problems including obesity, viral infections, colitis, diarrhea and high cholesterol, it should come as no surprise that prickly pear cactus already has a big following. Read on to see why you should eat prickly pear cactus:
Prickly pear cactus leaves produce an extract that is well-known for its anti-inflammatory effects within the body, helping improve health conditions including joint pain, muscle strains and arthritis. By taking the extract or eating the vegetable whole, prickly pear cactus can provide relief from inflammation.
Prickly pear cactus contains a great deal of dietary fiber, which is an important element of healthy digestion. Bowel movements are able to pass through the digestive tract more easily when you consume plenty of fiber. The vegetable is also used to relieve symptoms of diarrhea and constipation.
Packed with Nutrients
The health benefits that prickly pear cactus offers is largely due to its outstanding selection of vitamins and nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, fiber, copper, calcium and beta carotene.
Plentiful in Antioxidants
Prickly Pear Cactus is loaded with powerful antioxidants including phytochemicals, vitamin C, flavonoid compounds and rare betalains, making it a terrific food to consume when you want to strengthen your immune system. The beneficial compounds known as antioxidants target free radicals in the body and destroy them before they are able to mutate the DNA of healthy cells, helping to safeguard the body from several types of cancer.
Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
For individuals living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, the extract from prickly pear cactus is a helpful tool for controlling blood sugar levels. Since it is able to reduce glucose levels from spiking, it makes managing diabetes easier, especially type 2 diabetes.
Although this Mexican tradition is thought of as a folk remedy, it really is effective! When you take prickly pear cactus extract or eat the vegetable before you consume large amounts of alcohol, your hangover symptoms such as loss of appetite, nausea anddry mouth could be greatly decreased the following day. The anti-inflammatory properties of prickly pear cactus are thought to be the reason why it can help curb hangover symptoms.