The nopal is a tremendously popular plant in Mexico, where it is widely consumed thanks to its incredible nutritional benefits and its healing properties. We discover what it consists of and what its qualities are.
Historically, the nopal became known in the independence period of Mexico approximately during the year 1810 and since then, it has spread throughout the American continent, from the northern United States to Patagonia due to its multiple medicinal and nutritional contributions.
However, its origins go back many centuries, since the Aztecs used this plant thousands of years ago as a natural remedy to cure infections and heal wounds.
Although most of its species are found in Mexico, its country of origin, they grow wild throughout the Americas. During the various cultural exchanges, the nopal has transcended to other geographical spaces where its benefits and properties never cease to amaze, given its various utilities and mineral wealth.
Benefits of nopal
In Mexico, the nopal is consumed in many gastronomic dishes. It is also a perfect ally in green smoothies and its juice from the pulp provides the body with multiple benefits, among them are: it helps improve digestion, weight loss, reduce inflammation and accelerate metabolism.
The nopal intervenes in the digestive processes effectively, since it has a lot of soluble and insoluble fiber that reduces constipation and stimulates a better stimulation of minerals and nutrients, of which the nopal have in high quantities.
Nutritional properties of nopal
Also known as Pontiac or scientifically as fucus indicia, this plant is a cactus plant rich in potassium, phosphorus and sodium.
In addition, it has multiple vitamins such as A, B, B2, C and K and various proportions of proteins and carbohydrates. Nutritionally, the nopal is consumed as a food, like its fruit called prickly pear.
This is partly due to its various mineral and vitamin components, which for years, absorb from the subsoil and the organic matter in it. These nutrients powerfully benefit the immune, nervous, circulatory and digestive systems.
Because it is a great source of fiber, the digestive system manages to better stimulate its nutrient absorption processes. In addition to being an organic and plant compound, it has phytochemicals, a highly beneficial component for health.
Being one of the most generous plants with human health, the nopal not only provides multiple benefits, it also has a rich flavor that makes it more pleasant to eat in combination with other vegetables.
Medicinal qualities of nopal
Since the cactus also has various healing properties, it is a food that, as it contains high levels of calcium, helps the formation of bones, teeth, hair and nails and drinking its pulp may be recommended in people with decalcification of bones and in children in growth stage.
In fact, 100g of raw nopal és equals 80mg of calcium, which may even be better than consuming a glass of milk. Many of the benefits of nopal are used more in the body when it is fasting.
During the digestion process, many of the nutrients in the food that are consumed are discarded, because the small intestine does not have the ability to absorb as much.
However, on an empty stomach, the body is free of other foods that can be digested at the same time, since consuming nopal at this time of day helps better absorb its multiple vitamins and minerals. In this way, its nutritional and especially medicinal value is increased.
In relation to its effects on the skin, nopal és have a high content of antioxidants. When these act together with their phytochemicals, they become an excellent defense against free radicals, which in excess can prematurely age the skin.
In this way, the nopal regenerates skin cells, nourishes and hydrates them. Considering its medicinal contribution to the regulation of diabetes, this cactus plant is ideal for diabetic patients, since it prevents glucose levels from occurring within the body after each meal.
On the other hand, the nopal is also characterized by being a natural antibiotic that prevents the growth of bacterial species in the body. Its slime (pulp) is widely used as an ointment to clean wounds and to combat mycosis and fungi on the skin.