Nopal Cactus History
Grown in the high mountains of the central and semi-arid regions of Mexico, Nopal is the common culinary name for the pad of the prickly pear cactus of the species Opuntia ficus-indica. Nopal cactus was a very important plant to the indigenous people of Mexico in pre-Hispanic Aztec and Maya times due to its use in religious celebrations and disease treatments. Most importantly, it was used as a holistic and medicinal food. For over 7,000 years, nopal cactus pads have been well known for their nutritional value not only in Mexico, but in more recent years all over the Americas, Africa, Australia, and the Mediterranean.
Due to its high content of natural dietary fiber, nopal cactus can help in the digestive processes, in the treatment of obesity, in the control of hyperglycemia (type-II diabetes), hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia, and fat levels (high LDL cholesterol and arteriosclerosis). In addition, nopal cactus powder produced from mature nopal pads is a natural source of the 17 amino acids, including the six essential ones.
Nopalcan is the purest form of nopal cactus in powder which makes it an excellent source of insoluble and soluble fiber, and some indications of calcium (molar ratio .348 oxalates to 1 calcium – the more mature the nopal, the less oxalate), iron, as well as vitamins A and C, all macro and micronutrients necessary in the human diet. When nopal pads are dehydrated, their nutrient content per net weight increases, as does their shelf life. Dehydration also makes it easier to have daily dietary fiber intake from nopales in higher doses.
The amazing health benefits of Nopales (Nopal Cactus Pads)
In recent years, studies and scientific papers on Nopal Cactus have proven the healing power of this edible pad. Due to their relatively high amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals, but most of all, due to the high content of dietary fiber (soluble and insoluble) in mature pads, nopales are considered the Superfood of the ancient Aztecs.
Nopal cactus pads are well known for its ability to:
- aid in weight loss
- assist in the digestion process and liver functions
- facilitate the absorption of nutrients
- normalize bowel movements
- detoxify and clean the bowel
- lower blood cholesterol levels
- reduce blood pressure and inflammation
- control blood sugar levels
- regulate enzyme and hormone activities
- help build strong bones and healthy teeth
- increase energy levels
- boost the immune system
- create feelings of overall well being