Often referred to as a Prickly Pear Cactus, the Nopal Cactus is a large cactus native to the southwestern desert regions of North America, most notably Mexico. The cactus can grow up to four meters in height, while producing reddish fruits. The entire plant can even be used as a food source once all of the spines are removed.
Nopal is a common name in Spanish for Opuntia cacti, as well as for its pads. There are approximately one hundred and fourteen known species endemic to Mexico, where the plant is a common ingredient in numerous Mexican cuisine dishes. The nopal pads can be eaten raw or cooked, used in marmalades, soups, stews and salads, as well as being used for traditional medicine or as fodder for animals.
Nopal cactus is full of antioxidants, and a 2013 study found that the cactus is able to reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidants can benefit everyone, regardless of age and preexisting conditions. Nopal cactus health benefits can be obtained in several different ways. The most obvious way which also offers the best health benefits is by eating the cactus directly. Used for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, alcohol hangover, colitis, diarrhea, and viral infections.