The benefits of the nopal, or prickly pear cactus fruits, are that it helps lower cholesterol, supports the health of bone and protects the cells of the body from damage by free radicals. This is because it is rich in dietary fiber, which helps lower levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. It also has good levels of magnesium, which is necessary for bone health.
Nopal cactus fruit also has a good amount of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Since nopal fruit is also abundant in potassium and low in sodium, it also helps to prevent hypertension, which can lead to stroke and heart disease. The fruit also helps in weight loss because a single fruit only has 4 calories, and most of its 4 ounce weight is made up of water.
The pads of the cactus also have health benefits because they are also rich in dietary fiber as well as anti-inflammatory substances and antioxidants. One antioxidant is quercetin, a bioflavonoid. Eating the cactus pad also helped the body use insulin, especially if it was paired with exercise. Some people cut the pads and use the sap to ease the pain of minor burns and to discourage mosquitoes. The pad, flowers and fruit are also good to eat and are used in many recipes.