What Is Nopal Cactus (Prickly Pear) & Its Nutritional Value

Nopal Cactus, also known as “Prickly Pear,” “Indian Fig,” or "Barbary Fig," is scientifically categorized as Opuntia Spp, a generic name referring to over 200 species of the Opuntia cacti family.

What Is Nopal Cactus (Prickly Pear) - Origins

Since the Pre-Columbian period, the native people of the Americas, Aztecs, Chichimecs, Coras, Tepehuanes, and Zacatecas, have utilized the fruits and green stems of the Nopal Cactus (Prickly Pear) as food.

Archeological research using Carbon 14 dating techniques found human coprolites (preserved feces) containing the remains of Nopal Cactus dating back as far as 65 B.C. Another source of information about nopal's many uses by people in ancient times can be found in the journals of the missionaries who worked in the region, in the Spanish conquistador's messages to their leaders, and in the native documents which survived destruction during the cultural cleanse ordered by Mexico's Spanish archbishop.

The Aztecs used Nopal Cactus (Prickly Pear) for building materials, food, making glue, firewood, strengthening mortar, stiffening cloth, and religious rituals.

What Is Nopal Cactus (Prickly Pear) – Nutrient Content

Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) contains 18 Amino Acids: Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Cystine, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Histidine, Leucine, Isoleucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Tyrosine, and Valine.

Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) contains 15 Potent Phytonutrients.

Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) contains 10 Minerals: Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Selenium, Sodium, and Zinc.

Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) contains 8 Vitamins: Vitamin A, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), Ascorbic Acid (C), Vitamin E, and Folate.

Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) contain Betalains.

Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) contain Fiber.

Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) contain Pectin.

What Is Nopal - Economic Value To Mexico

According to Reuters, 10,000 farmers cultivate nopal in Mexico, producing $150 million yearly.

What Is Nopal – Locations Of Cultivation

Nopal is native to Mexico and the southwestern regions of the United States. It is also found in Italy, Spain & South Africa, where it was imported during the Spanish conquest of the New World.


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