15 Health Benefits Of Nopales (Prickly Pear)

Nopales (Opuntia cacti) are eaten as vegetables and have soft pads (called nopalitos) of underdeveloped prickly pear cactus. Nopales is also known as nopal cactus.

Nopales has been a major constituent of Mexican cuisine and its popularity is growing in US and European countries due to its numerous health benefits.

The health benefits of nopales include; improving digestion, building strong bones, increasing body metabolism, and reducing body inflammation.

Nopales Nutritional Value

Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving (100g Per Serving)
Calories 16
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.1g
Saturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 20mg
Total Carbohydrates 3.3g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 1.1g
Protein 1.4g
Vitamin A 8%
Vitamin C 8%
Calcium 16%
Iron 2%

Below are various health benefits of nopales;

1. Aids In Weight Loss

Constant intake of nopales plays a vital role in your food consumption and this is possible because nopales aids to reduce the secretion of leptin; one of the hormones that play a role in controlling appetite. Leptin is produced by the fat cells in the body. These fat cells operate on a mechanism that sends hunger signals through the brain. However, with frequent intake of nopales, these hunger signal channels are gradually blocked thereby aiding weight control. Nopales also helps reduce the quantity of dietary fat available for body assimilation.

2. Improves Digestion

Nopales aids in the frequent release of hormones and enzymes that aid digestion. Through adequate consumption of nopales, hormones responsible for gastrointestinal functions send signals to the gastrointestinal tract and the respective organs actively involved in digestion. This way, food ingested is adequately digested. Nopales also improves peristaltic movement of masticated food as well as curb symptoms of constipation and diarrhea.

3. Boosts The Immune System

Nopales boosts the immune system and this is possible via the presence of vitamins in this prickly pear cactus. Nopales also contains fiber and minerals which are core nutrients needed by the human body to fight against diseases. Constant consumption of nopales also triggers the secretion of active hormones, such as insulin, that give an extra boost to the body’s immune system.

4. Prevents The Growth Of Cancerous Cells

Nopales consumption actively improves the endocrine system which also generates hormones that appropriately helps the body to fight against cancer. Furthermore, the rich antioxidants in nopales help inhibit tumor growth.

5. Aids Proper Sleeping Habit

With nopales, melatonin is adequately produced in the pineal gland which, in turn, regulates and maintains proper sleeping habits. For individuals suffering from sleep disorders and insomnia, frequent addition of nopales to their diet could aid as a home remedy.

6. Reduces Body Inflammation

Nopales have anti-inflammatory properties that help bring relief to arthritic symptoms as well as easing muscle strain and joint swellings. Nopales helps in the active secretion of fibrinogen and fibrin which are the mesh-like threads that help to close up wounds.

7. Improves The Health Of Skin

The natural glow of the skin can be maintained through the consumption of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, and beta-carotene in the body. Nopales naturally contain these nutrients and is also rich in minerals and fiber. Nopales is also responsible for improving the glow of one’s skin and preventing cracked skin which is possible by virtue of the vitamin and antioxidant content of nopales.

8. Protects The Heart From Heart-Related Diseases

The heart operates daily with constant pumping and circulation of blood in the body through veins and arteries. Through the consumption of nopales and its rich antioxidant properties, the ease at which blood is circulated is improved as cholesterol level is reduced. Furthermore, the presence of fiber in nopales gives strength to the walls of the heart and, in turn, protects the heart adequately from heart-related diseases.

9. Treatment And Elimination Of Ulcers

Nopales also aids in the treatment of gastrointestinal ulcer by ensuring a balance in the endocrine system and regulating the production of gastrin in the body. Gastrin has its positive role play in the human body, however, an excess release of it could cause duodenal ulcers and also gut infections. Duodenal ulcer patients are characterized by an antrum-predominant, body-sparing, nonatrophic Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) gastritis, which results in increased gastrin release and increased acid secretion.

10. High Nutritional Value

Nopales contain nutrients responsible for growth, development, and repair of worn out tissues. Nopales also have a natural supply of vitamins and minerals which ensure healthy skin, protects vision, build up the skeletal framework of the human body amongst other functions. The presence of vitamin E in this pear cactus helps the body to fight against diseases as well as regenerate worn out tissues and cells. The fiber content helps in bowel movement and aids digestion.

11. Reduces Cholesterol In The System

Increase in the level of cholesterol mostly results due to the type of food we eat as well as a sedentary lifestyle. The increase in cholesterol in the human body can constrict the flow of oxygenated blood to the heart muscles which, in turn, could result in a clogged heart and breathing issues. By virtue of nopales’ rich antioxidant properties, the level of cholesterol can be adequately reduced to improve overall health and wellness.

12. Antidiabetic Properties

The need for the control of blood sugar in the system is key because of its health implications. Improper blood sugar regulation in the body system could result in cases of diabetes, and other blood sugar complications. One of the ways to control blood sugar is by regularly consuming nopales or by making it a part of your diet. Nopales helps to regulate the secretion of insulin and glucagon which helps to regulate the flow of blood sugar in the human system.

13. Constipation Relief

Nopales help relieve constipation and this is made possible due to its fiber and vitamin content. Nopales also help to improve bowel movement. There are also quite a number of hormones that aid constipation relief such as insulin and cortisol which are also regulated by nopales.

14. Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases

Nopales contain nutrients that help improves our general health and wellness. These can be seen in their ability to reduce cholesterol levels, regulate the flow of oxygenated blood and provide strength to the walls of the heart to sufficiently enable the heart to pump blood naturally. As such, consumption of nopales help to prevent cardiovascular diseases and strengthens the heart.

15. Repairs Worn Out Tissues

Naturally, our body system undergoes some breakdown as well as wear and tear. To ensure a constant repair/regeneration of worn tissues in the body, there is a need to infuse nopales in your diet. Nopales contains some level of protein, which provides amino acids for the body and serves as a building block that is used in repairing and replacing tissues that must have worn out. Furthermore, due to the fact that our muscles, cells, and tissues function mostly due to the availability of protein and amino acid in the body, nopales serve to meet such provision upon its constant consumption.


Word Of Caution
As nopales may reduce blood sugar, taking it with diabetes medication is not advised as this may lead to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).