8 Amazing Benefits of Prickly Pear (Nopal) Cactus

Prickly pear, also called Nopal cactus is healthy edible cactus (Genus Opuntia) high in fibers, aminoacids, nutrients, vitamins and minerals! Prickly pear mostly grows in Mexico and in United States. It is known in many countries around the world in culinary uses such as salads, vegetable dishes, desserts and appetizers, breads, beverages, drinks, jelly and even candy. Prickly pear is more and more being recognized for its health benefits, medical uses and also as weight loss aid!

Prickly pear cactus is prepared in many ways, either grilled, boiled, pressed into juice, made into jams and more. The fruit, called “prickly pears” are very sweet and can be eaten raw. Prickles (sharp spines) must be removed, obviously, since they are very dangerous. The edible parts of nopal cactus are the fruit, stems, leaves and flowers.

In this article we will cover some of the known benefits of Nopal cactus genus Opuntia that is used as an extract in weight loss supplements.

Prickly Pear Fruit is Tasty and Healthy

Some prickly pear benefits are:

– supporting immune system
– providing good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
– helping regulate blood sugar
– easing digestion and stomach problems
– protecting nerve cells from damage
– reducing fatigue and improving energy levels
– reducing cholesterol
– supporting weight loss

1. Prickly Pear Supports Immune System

An extract from opuntia cactus has been studied in suppressing viral infections and preventing replication of viruses. Prickly pear successfully supports immune system by reducing infections in cases of herpes simplex, influenza virus, equine herpes virus and even HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). The extract from nopal cactus is non toxic and in some cases it helped reduced inflammation up to 50%. (1)

2. Great Source of Antioxidants, Vitamins and Minerals

Nopal Cactus is Great When Pressed Into a Smoothie or Juice

Another study also confirmed that prickly pear is strong anti-oxidant. It decreases oxidative stress and improves antioxidant status in body better than vitamin C alone. Prickly pear does contain high amount of vitamin C but it seems that because of other plant molecules, pigments, nutrients and chemical interactions it is able to provide better anti-oxidant effect compared to vitamin C. (2)

Prickly pear is very rich in fiber, nutrients and vitamin content, including Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, A and K, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin and minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, potassium and calcium. It is also rich in other organic compounds like polysaccharides and phytochemicals that support your health.

3. Prickly Pear Regulates Blood Sugar

Extracts from Nopal cactus reduce blood sugar levels. Some people with type 2 diabetes use it as an aid (complementary) to regulating blood glucose levels together with medicine. If you are considering trying taking Nopal extracts or adding it to your diet and you have concerns or problems with blood sugar levels, or you have any disease connected with this issue please be careful with prickly pears, because they can cause a sugar drop in your blood. Get a medical advice or consult your doctor about this. There have been studies done on prickly pear genus Opuntia and they show that it can successfully reduce blood glucose levels. (3)

4. Helps Digestion and Relieves Stomach Problems

Prickly pear is very rich in dietary fiber, which is essential for digestion. People that consume nopales have noticed that it helps with all sorts of digestion problems including diarrhea, constipation and cramps related to digestion troubles. These benefits are probably present because of the high contents of fiber. There is not enough research done for Nopales to prove this scientifically, however, experience from millions of people around the world enjoying the taste and health benefits of prickly pears speaks for it.

5. Protects Nerve Cells

In the last decade, nopal cactus is gaining popularity among companies and scientists searching for medical and therapeutic benefits. One of the amazing benefits prickly pear offers is its neuroprotective property. It protects nerve cells against damage and may reduce nerve inflammation. There is some evidence that nopal cactus helped people recover sensory loss or reduce pain related to nerve inflammation. (4)
Nopal Cactus Protects Nerve Cells From Inflammation

6. Reduces Fatigue and Boosts Energy Levels

Nopales are very popular in some countries and millions love them for their taste. People noticed that lightweight prickly pear meal like salads provide good energy and refresh you when you feel tired. Same goes for pressed juice or other drinks and beverages made from nopales. So, you never tried eating cactus before or drinking a refreshing “prickly” juice, but the health benefits it provides convinced you to try? Great! But there is more…

7. Reduces Cholesterol and Supports Liver Function

Some limited research shows that nopales can reduce blood cholesterol levels. Due to its high contents of vitamins, minerals, fibers and other compounds it also protects and supports liver function. It can be observed that prickly pear provides health benefits beyond the sole nutrients it contains. In our opinion nopales deserve more attention and scientific study. It is unknown why prickly pear reduces blood levels of cholesterol but it doesn’t effect absorption of cholesterol from food. So it helps your body reduce bad cholesterol that is already present in the blood. (5)
Nopal Cactus Supports Health and Makes You Lose Weight

8. Prickly Pear (Nopal Cactus) Supports Weight Loss

Nopal cactus helps you lose weight by helping your body manage hormonal balance, regulate enzyme function, promote healthy muscle gain and tone entire body. It also helps you gain more control over your hunger.

Another amazing benefit of prickly pear is that it can help flush excess fluids from tissues into your bloodstream. Many obese people have problem with fluids accumulating in tissue due to their unhealthy lifestyle or other health problems. Even cellulite is a problem of body fluids accumulating in wrong places and is not always caused by fat cells. Prickly pear helps you lose weight and reduces celulite.

Because of all these amazing benefits of prickly pear cactus, also called Nopal, some companies choose to add Nopal extract to their weight loss formulas.

PhenQ diet pill is a high quality multi-focused weight loss supplement that uses Nopal extract as one of its unique ingredients. If you are looking into ways to lose some extra pounds easily and naturally check PhenQ, it already helped almost 200,000 people!

REFERENCES:

1. Antiviral effects of Opuntia, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8783800
2. Prickly pear as antioxidant, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15277160
3. Hypoglycemic action of Opuntia in patiens with type II diabetes, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2557805
4. Nopal cactus (Opuntia) research, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25232708
5. Benefits of Prickly pear juice, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820065/