What Is a Nopal Cactus?


Quick Answer

The nopal cactus, or prickly pear cactus, comprises a variety of species of Opuntia that are native to and grow extensively throughout Mexico, as well as the southwestern desert regions of the United States. The cactus is a common part of Mexican cuisine and is also taken medicinally.

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Full Answer

Nopal features in the Mexican diet as a vegetable both raw and cooked. The juice is frequently used in candies and jellies, as well as other traditional dishes. The plant is also cultivated as feed for livestock.

According to WebMD, Nopal is often used as a supplement, to help with the treatment of type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, colitis and diarrhea. The health benefits are attributed to the cactus' high fiber and pectin content, which may lower blood glucose and decrease cholesterol levels.

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