Nopal - The Health Benefits
The content of this website is provided for information purposes only, and is not intended to act as a substitute for medical advice from your own GP.
For over 12,000 years fresh nopal has been consumed for its nutritional qualities. Only in the last 20 years has science truly been interested in the investigation of this remarkable medicinal plant.
Nopal Verde (opuntia-indica) or green nopal - the only edible type - has recently been recommended for a range of circulation, heart and digestive disorders. Below are a number of the most recent findings.
Nopal contains both soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. The insoluble dietary fibre in nopal (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 fibres in the colon help to dilute the concentration of potential carcinogens that may be present. Soluble fibres also contribute to regularity. Nopal is a gentle alternative for those with a sensitivity or allergy to psyllium.
Nopal's amino acids, fibre and B3 (niacin) prevent excess blood sugar conversions into fats, while reducing the total cholesterol, tri-glyceride and LDL cholesterol levels by metabolising fat and fatty acids and eliminating excess bile acids (excess bile acid is eventually converted into cholesterol). Other research studies on B3 (niacin) show its conversion effects of LDL (bad) to HDL (good) forms of cholesterol and help decrease the risk of heart disease.
Prevention of blocked arteries
The effects of the amino acids and fibre, including the anti-oxidant of nopal's vitamin C and A (B-carotene) content prevents the likelihood of blood vessel wall damage and the formation of fatty plaques.
Reduction and elimination of gastrointestinal disorders
Nopal vegetable fibres and mucilages control excess gastric acid production and protect the gastrointestinal mucus. This pH buffering and coating prevents damage that might occur from ingesting spicy foods, aspirin and other NSA IDs.
Detoxification & prevention of illnesses
Nopal's natural vitamin (A, B1, B2, B3, C) content and the minerals; calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, and fibres in lignin, cellulose, hemicelluloses, pectin, mucilages, 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.
Nopal also aids in the balancing and calming of the nervous system, which benefits the body's overall function.
Nopal's 17 amino acids, 8 of which are essential and must be ingested as food, provide you with more energy and make you less tired 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 fibres such as lignin are known for increasing a sense of fullness and eliminating excessive binges. Nopal's vegetable protein helps the body pull fluids from the tissues back into the bloodstream therefore reducing cellulite and fluid retention. Also Nopal's 17 amino acids, fibres, vitamins and minerals are perfect for a vegetarian diet.
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar)
Benefit for Diabetes II patients
Nopal stabilises and then regulates blood sugar by increasing the body's levels and sensitivity to insulin. Research studies have shown significant hypoglycemic effects from 4 to 6 hours after nopal ingestion in type II diabetics and non-diabetics. The dangerous side effects of high blood sugar levels including visual, blood vessel and nerve tissue disturbances are all addressed by nopal's content of B-carotene (in vitamin A, C, and vitamins B1, B2, B3).