Is Nopal a True Superfood?
Our ancestral cultures included nopal as part of their diet and herbal remedies long before scientific research caught up. In recent times, studies have shed more light on why nopal has been a valuable and nutritious resource for thousands of years and how it might benefit you today.
5-star review for nopal on blood sugar
Nopal is full of soluble fiber, which is helpful for satiety, smooth digestion, and blood-sugar regulation. In one study, researchers looked at nopal’s effect on fasting blood sugar in people experiencing type 2 diabetes. Participants who were given the nopal saw their fasting blood sugar drop an average of 43% after 2 hours.(1)
In another study, scientists investigated the results of eating nopal with a meal. Two groups of diabetics ate a breakfast high in carbs. Some of the participants ate nopal with their breakfast, and the others didn’t. The nopal group had significantly lower levels of insulin and blood sugar compared with the other group.(2)
Nopal is great for folks without diabetes, too. Researchers inserted an IV with a solution of 20% sugar into non-diabetic participants. Some of the participants took 500 grams of nopal before they began the infusion. Those who had the nopal before starting the sugar drip saw their blood sugar rise more slowly than those who had the placebo.(3)
A review of studies indicates that nopal is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory because it is packed with polyphenols.(4) Nopal has also been seen to protect brain cells from damage due to oxidative stress(5) and curb DNA damage from toxins.(6)
In addition, research indicates that nopal lowers cholesterol and improves other health measurements. In a study of men with high cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fat), participants consumed nopal for 8 weeks with a noticeable outcome: Their LDL cholesterol dropped 15% and their triglycerides 12%.(7)
These results are promising because nopal reduces 3 out of 5 markers of metabolic syndrome: blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Not only can nopal support people who need blood-sugar regulation now, it’s giving a leg up to those with an eye toward their long-term health.
The research confirms what our grandmothers have known for a long time: Nopal is a first-rate superfood to support our families’ well-being. Buen provecho.
Let’s get healthier, together,
Your friends at Santo Remedio
1. Frati, A. C., Xilotl Díaz, N., Altamirano, P., Ariza, R., & López-Ledesma, R. (1991). “The effect of two sequential doses of Opuntia streptacantha upon glycemia.” Archivos de investigacion medica, Vol.22(3-4), 333–336.
2. López-Romano, P., Pichardo-Ontiveros, E., Avila-Nava, A., Vásquez-Manjarrez, N., Tovar, A., Pedraza-Chaverri, J., Torres, N. The Effect of Nopal (Opuntia Ficus Indica) on Postprandial Blood Glucose, Incretins, and Antioxidant Activity in Mexican Patients with Type 2 Diabetes after Consumption of Two Different Composition Breakfasts. (2014) Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vol.114(11), pp.1811-1818
URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2014.06.352 OI:
3. Frati-Munari, A. C., Licona-Quesada, R., Araiza-Andraca, C. R., López-Ledesma, R., & Chávez-Negrete, A. (1990). Acción de Opuntia streptacantha en individuos sanos con hiperglucemia inducida [Activity of Opuntia streptacantha in healthy individuals with induced hyperglycemia]. Archivos de investigacion medica, Vol.21(2), 99–102.
4. El-Mostafa, K., El Kharrassi, Y., Badreddine, A., Andreoletti, P., Vamecq, J., El Kebbaj, M. S., Latruffe, N., Lizard, G., Nasser, B., & Cherkaoui-Malki, M. (2014). Nopal cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) as a source of bioactive compounds for nutrition, health and disease. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 19(9), 14879–14901.
5. Shirazinia, R., Rahimi, V. B., Kehkhaie, A. R., Sahebkar, A., Rakhshandeh, H., & Askari, V. R. (2019). Opuntia dillenii: A Forgotten Plant with Promising Pharmacological Properties. Journal of pharmacopuncture, Vol.22(1), 16–27
6. Madrigal-Santillán, E., García-Melo, F., Morales-González, J. A., Vázquez-Alvarado, P., Muñoz-Juárez, S., Zuñiga-Pérez, C., Sumaya-Martínez, M. T., Madrigal-Bujaidar, E., & Hernández-Ceruelos, A. (2013). Antioxidant and anticlastogenic capacity of prickly pear juice. Nutrients, Vol.5(10), 4145–4158.
7. Wolfram, R. M., Kritz, H., Efthimiou, Y., Stomatopoulos, J., & Sinzinger, H. “Effect of prickly pear (Opuntia robusta) on glucose- and lipid-metabolism in non-diabetics with hyperlipidemia--a pilot study.” Wiener klinische Wochenschrift, Vol.114(19-20), 840–846. 2002
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