When Science Proves the Remedy: The Amazing Benefits of Nopal Cactus
What is it?
Often called Prickly Pear in english and Nopal in spanish, there are over 126(!) varieties of Nopal cactus growing across the southwest United States and Central America. Both the fruits and the paddle-like stems of Nopal are edible, though it’s always a good idea to remove any spines.
What’s the remedy?
What isn’t the remedy? might be a more appropriate question when it comes to Nopal :). First off, it has an enormous and extensive history of use, going back thousands and maybe even tens of thousands of years.
Native American cultures used Nopal as a food, a source of water, a medicine, and even as a building material. That’s right, Nopal has so much soluble fiber that ancient peoples used it to make plaster, and modern scientists are investigating its potential in an earth-friendly form of cement.
Medicinally, Nopal has been used as a folk remedy to combat many chronic diseases, from obesity to cardiovascular issues, to diabetes, cancer and inflammation (1). If you happen to be from Mexico, there’s no doubt you’ve already been introduced to this delicious Santo Remedio.
Does Science Prove the Remedy?
Absolutely. Here’s three ways that modern scientific research has backed up traditional usage of Nopal as a powerful cure and superfood:
#1 Help for High Blood Sugar
Nopal has a great combination of being high in dietary fiber, low in sugar, and possessing lots of pectin and amylose (2). This makes it a fantastic choice for controlling blood sugar. (3) One study showed that supplementation over time with Nopal lowered both insulin and blood glucose levels up to 11% in study participants.
Because of its combination of specialized fibers, it may be able to slow the absorption of sugar from meals, resulting in lower insulin spikes from eating, and better blood sugar health (4).
#2 Help for High Cholesterol
The same compounds that make Nopal a great choice for controlling blood sugar are also being studied for their effect on high triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Studies (5) have shown that supplementation with nopal can help lower triglycerides and bad cholesterol levels, while simultaneously raising good cholesterol levels.
These levels are primary indicators of heart health, with billions of dollars of pharmaceutical research devoted to their research. Perhaps a better solution is from this natural remedy.
#3 Help for Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Nopal is high in antioxidants, including a particularly potent one called betanin (6). Antioxidants are key components of a strong immune response, and the antioxidants in Nopal have been specifically proven (7) to lower the damage caused by free radicals and other forms of oxidative stress.
(8) One study even showed that supplementing with Nopal helped the body respond better to exercise when it comes to oxidative stress.
As for inflammation, the oil from Nopal seeds is high in unsaturated fatty acids, which help fight high levels of inflammation. Nopal is extremely high in one particular form of these acids, linoleic acid (9).
A Santo Remedio
Your grandmother was definitely on to something when she was serving you Nopal. It’s easy to add to your diet, either in fresh form, or in juice from the fruit, or as a pill supplement from Santo Remedio.
It’s been an important natural remedy for thousands of years, and the science is showing that it will continue to be one for thousands more.
Let’s get healthier, together
Your friends at Santo Remedio
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