Nopal (prickly pear cactus) is rich in antioxidants, plus it helps normalize cholesterol and blood glucose
Friday, February 17, 2012 by: Donna Earnest Pravel
(NaturalNews) Nopal cactus, also well known as prickly pear cactus, has been a staple part of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine for centuries. The green pads of the nopal cactus are cooked and added to tacos, egg dishes, Mexican salads, shakes, smoothies, etc. Research within the past ten years has caused Nopal cactus to be considered a super-food, due to its antioxidant and cholesterol-reducing properties. It is rich in betalains. Several clinical studies also suggest Nopal cactus is beneficial for diabetics because it reduces blood glucose levels.
Nopal cactus can be prepared in numerous ways or eaten raw
Nopal cactus, known in Spanish as nopales, is an easy vegetable to add to a variety of recipes. The spines are cut off of the pads, the pads are chopped or sliced, then sauteed with scrambled eggs or added to omelets. Nopal cactus is often added to pico de gallo, a fiery Mexican raw vegetable medley made with tomatoes, onions, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro. It can be served grilled or sauteed with onions as a garnish for fajitas, or eaten raw in salads. It is even thrown into the blender alone or with other fruits or vegetables to make delicious shakes or smoothies.
Nopal cactus may be considered a super-food due to its cholesterol-lowering capabilities
While Mexicans have been enjoying Nopal cactus for centuries, the vegetable is trending as a super-food in the natural health and raw food community in the U.S. This may be because of medical research in the past decade which confirmed that Nopales have the ability to lower LDL cholesterol levels. A 2003 medical study published by Nuclear Medicine Review: Central and Eastern Europe demonstrated that ten patients with high blood cholesterol levels were given dietary counseling for 6 weeks, then asked to eat prickly pear cactus for 6 weeks. The scientists found that these patients’ livers were able to handle the regulation of LDL cholesterol significantly better by eating prickly pear cactus.
Sources for this article include:
Pubmed.gov, “Prickly pear induces up-regulation of liver LDL binding in familial heterozygous hypercholesterolemia,” B. Palumbo, et al. Nuclear Medicine Review: Central and Eastern Europe 2003; 6(1): 35-9. http://science.naturalnews.com/pubmed/14600931.html
Simply Recipes.com, “How to Cut and Prepare Prickly Pears,” by Garret McCord http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/how_to_cut_and_prepare_prickly_pears/
Pubmed.gov, “Antioxidant betalains from cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) inhibit endothelial ICAM-1 expression.” C. Gentile, et al. Annals of the New York Academy of Science; 1028: 481-6. http://science.naturalnews.com/pubmed/15650274.html
About the author:
This article is provided courtesy of Donna Earnest Pravel, owner and senior copy editor of Heart of Texas Copywriting Solutions.com. Get free weekly tips on natural healing and herbs by visiting her blog, Bluebonnet Natural Healing Therapy.