Prickly pear cactus, also known simply as nopal, is a form of edible plant found natively in Mexico and in the southern regions of the United States. In this places has been consumed for thousands of years due to the high benefits it has for health, beauty, and well-being.
The flat cactus pads are roughly the size of a person’s hand and can be eaten when the plant is young; they have a quite tasty, vegetable savor. It is good to include them regularly in the diet. You can add them fresh to your eggs or stew, a bit cooked to your salads or, you can have some nopal tostadas and tortilla chips in your pantry and eat them as a snack.
Health benefits of nopal
It has been found that nopal has a wide range of health benefits. It is loaded with nutrition content like manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, copper, iron, fiber, and riboflavin; as well as a good array of vitamins, which includes vitamin A, C, K, and B6.
Let’s explore some of the best health benefits of nopal:
It may help improve digestion
As a form of cactus, nopal is fibrous and has a right amount of dietary fiber which is essential in our daily digestive process. An early study also found that this extra fiber in the body can reduce the amount of cholesterol, protecting the heart as well.
It has antiviral properties
The best way to stay away from viruses is with prevention. Nopal is known for its antiviral properties which help to stay healthier and far off cold and other illness.
It protects nerve cells
Just like all other cells, nerve cells can be damaged, leading to pain or sensory loss. Some studies have also found that nopal contains neuroprotective properties that can help prevent nerve cells from loss of function or damage.
It is high in antioxidants
Antioxidants are good for everyone, regardless of age or preexisting conditions. Nopal is full of antioxidants that can protect our cells from the damage caused by free radicals. It is also able to reduce oxidative stress.
It is a natural skin care
The antioxidant properties we mentioned, along with its phytochemical characteristics, make nopal an excellent mechanism against wrinkles and age spots. By including it in your diet, you can keep your skin looking young and healthy.
It can boost your metabolism
Nopal is high in minerals and vitamins that are vital components of cellular metabolism that regulate the enzyme activity in the body. This hormonal balance helps losing weight more effectively, and improve muscle gain and body tone.
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