A year ago, we discussed the weight loss benefits of nopal cactus, but did you know that this super food’s potential extends far beyond dieting? Most people eat nopal cactus and take nopal cactus supplements to feel fuller faster. However, studies have shown that this plant can improve the functioning of your liver, immune system, and cholesterol levels.
Nopal Cactus and Cholesterol
A medical study published in Nuclear Medicine Review found that there were significant increases in LDL uptake by the liver and an enhanced decay in circulating blood after six weeks of daily nopal cactus ingestion. The researchers concluded that nopal cacti exerts significant hypolipidemic action through receptor upregulation. This means that the test subjects’ bodies were able to regulate LDL cholesterol better after eating this type of cactus.
Sonoran nopal cactus, for example, has 3.7 grams of fiber. A healthy adult diet should include at least 28 grams of fiber each day. In addition to helping keel unhealthy LDL levels of cholesterol low, this food also contains no saturated fat or cholesterol of its own.
Nopal Cactus and Antioxidant Properties
Most people want to avoid sickness as much as possible, using as little energy as possible. Consuming nopal cactus is a great way to do just that! A four-ounce serving of nopal cactus contains 14 mg of vitamin C, 88 mg of magnesium, and 6 mg of calcium. Vitamin C helps boost the immune system, magnesium helps muscles and bone function for movement, and calcium strengthens bones to support the body. A clinical study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences concluded that nopal cactus protected vascular endothelial cells from the free radical effects of redox alteration from the “signal” proteins that regulate the immune system.
Nopal Cactus and Blood Pressure
A four-ounce nopal cactus provides 227 mg of potassium, with only 5 mg of sodium. These are key components of a diet that supports healthy blood pressure levels. Diets high in potassium and low in sodium can help prevent high blood pressure or lower it if it’s already high. Since high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease, these types of foods are particularly beneficial for all adults.
Tips for Incorporating Nopal Cactus in Your Diet
- Remove strong, sharp thorns prior to eating or preparing
- Quickly and easily add to fruit salads and smoothies
- Cook nopal cactus into fruit jams
- Add nopal cactus into savory dishes, like chili, to balance out hot spices
- Add to Mexican dishes, like tacos, for a new twist on an old favorite
- Incorporate into breakfast dishes by sauteing with scrambled eggs or adding to omelets
- Chop and add to pico de gallo with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro
Perhaps the most cooperative and photogenic creatures living among the reefs in the Caribbean are Moray Eels. This photo was taken from less than 1 ft. away. They are not afraid of cameras, and occasionally like to pose with a big toothy grin. Of course there really is a lot of work that goes into capturing this sort of shot. The approach by the diver has to be very calm, gradual and non-threatening. So absolute perfect bouyancy-control is essential along with having the camera correctly dialed in for the shot. As well-behaved as this one seems, they do like to have you parked for too long outside their hole in the reef.