Nopal cactus, also known as the prickly pear cactus or it’s more scientific name “opuntia ficus indica cactus”, is a cactus with many useful benefits that is found natively in southwestern USA and in Mexico. It is edible while it is young, particularly the flat cactus pads parts, while it is tougher to eat once it is older. It is in fact commonly found in dishes throughout some regions in Mexico, used in food like jellies and candies. It can also be used as an aid to help harden plaster.
On top of that, nopal cactus can be used for a various number of medicinal uses, thanks to it’s varied health benefits.
1. Used As An Antiviral
As with pretty much every virus, prevention is better than cure and is the best line of defense. Nopal cactus has antiviral properties, and according to some preliminary research that has been conducted, it is found that this cactus has antiviral activity against more serious illnesses such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and HIV.
2. Protects Nerve Cells
Just like all other cells in your body, nerve cells can be damaged, which can cause sensory loss or pain. This is where the nopal cactus comes in as it can protect against nerve cell damage. A study has also found that it contains neuroprotective properties, which means that it can assist in preventing damage in nerve cells and also prevent loss of function.
3. High In Antioxidants
Antioxidants are important components of our body in protecting our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Being full of antioxidants, nopal cacti are found to be able to reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidants are beneficial to all ages, genders and preexisting conditions.
4. Reduces Cholesterol
Studies have found that the nopal cactus is able to decrease cholesterol. With overall cholesterol levels dropping by a good amount, it is LDL cholesterol which is the so-called bad cholesterol in your body that was found to have dropped significantly. In fact, intake of nopal cactus come with less side effects than traditional cholesterol medications in terms of lowering cholesterol.
5. Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
Especially with people who have diabetes, regulating blood sugar can be quite a struggle. For that, nopal cactus may provide a solution as some research have indicated that nopal cactus may decrease and regulate a person’s blood sugar. A study has found and recommend that taking nopal cactus along with other diabetes medications will be able to help regulate blood sugar.