You may be just one of the many people looking to go on a weight loss journey and are always looking for secret supplements that can help you. And like the many who are trying to lose weight are acutely aware, is the fact that there is no magic potion that can help you to lose weight instantly. What it requires instead is hard work, motivation, and consistency. All the same, you will always find supplements that can help you eat better and start exercising to set the ball rolling.
Prickly pear cactus, or Nopal Cactus, is one such natural weight loss supplement that has recently gained popularity. If you are on the lookout for natural supplements that have weight loss ingredients, then this is one supplement that you will benefit from looking at. Here are details on how this supplement works, the benefits it can bring, the ways that you can consume it, and whether it will be successful in working for you.
Before You Start
Before we discuss the use of Nopal Cactus and weight loss, it is important that we understand that being obese or overweight can be due to your genetic makeup, and/or due to any medical condition that requires to be dealt with.
Ensure that you pay a visit to your doctor, have yourself checked to rule out any larger problem, and find out if the Nopal Cactus supplement is the right one for you to try out. Keep in mind your genetics, as this can be a major component.
Fat distribution, metabolism, and other factors have a link to genetics. You could be just one of those people who eat less and exercise more than an average person, and yet remain relatively overweight. As a result, a supplement like Nopal Cactus can take longer to work for you than it will for others, or vice versa.
Having understood this, you must understand what is best for your body, what it can do or cannot do, and thus figure out, intuitively, what can work best for you. Practically, psychologists tell you that if you approach a goal from a starting point where you hate yourself or do not accept what you are, it can affect the patience needed to reach any goal and make it difficult for you to maintain it. Physiologists say it could trigger stress eating and lead you to be sluggish while exercising.
Being overweight is often an unnecessary stigma, but it is one that is impossible to ignore. That is why it is good to remember that a body that is overweight is not one that is prevented from doing much, while a slim body does not mean that you can do a lot.
Facts About Nopal Cactus
This is a cactus that is a genus of the family of “prickly pear” cactus, which grows in Southwest US, Italy, Spain, as well as South Africa. Western indigenous populations have always used it as a medicinal plant. What is eaten, is its leaves, the petals of its flowers, and its fruit, which is called “tuna” or “prickly pear”. Its seeds also have some nutritional value.
Nopal Cactus contains nutrients and minerals, like Vitamins A, B (1,2 &3), and C, and calcium. Its compounds are also packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, the main component of the plant that is interesting for us for the topic of weight loss is its fibre content.
How does Nopal Cactus help you to lose weight?
It does so in two significant ways.
It is high in fibre and low in calories.
This is a low-calorie food that has a high fibre content. The main advantage of any high fibre food is that it can make you feel full. So, when you take Nopal Cactus, you will feel full throughout the day, while you will not have consumed many calories. This is what prevents you from overeating during meals or snacking in between them.
Studies have shown that when you take Nopal Cactus or other high fibre food just half an hour before you eat, you will reduce the food you eat during the meal.
Carbohydrate Digestion Is Slowed
The fibres in Nopal Cactus slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which helps to moderate the rate at which the stomach and intestines absorb sugar. This helps to prevent swings in blood sugar levels. Low and high glycemic states can both affect weight.
Low blood sugar leaves you hungry even when you have had your quota of calories.
High blood sugar levels in the blood lead to the release of insulin, and this can lead to the body stopping the burning of fat.
When the body minimizes the times it swings between these two glycemic states, it can lead to loss of weight or a reduction in gaining it.
Absorption of Dietary Fat is Limited
The main weight loss mechanism that Nopal triggers is the decrease in the amount of fat absorbed by the body. Nopal binds itself to the dietary fat, and this makes it too large for its absorption in the bloodstream. Participants in a clinical study showed an increase in faecal fat in their excreta when they were on a 35% fat diet compared to the control group that was not given the Nopal extract in their diet.
Can This Work For You?
Not many studies have been conducted that measured weight loss while the Nopal Cactus has been consumed. However, science has corroborated that Nopal Cactus can help in weight loss, but it can depend on the diet you usually consume.
As Nopal Cactus leads to the reduction in absorption of dietary fat, it then concludes that the best results will be for those who eat a diet that is low in carb and high in fat. If, on the other hand, your diet includes a lot of carbs and less fat, the Nopal Cactus will reduce the amount of fat that your bloodstream absorbs, but the weight can still pile on from the carb intake, and thus lead to it not having an effect.
You should consider the use of Nopal Cactus if your diet contains a lot of these foods.
- Cuts of Fatty Meat from beef, pork, and lamb
- Whole Eggs
- Fish with a lot of fat
Consumption of a high amount of foods that are high in carbs can still help you to lose weight.
- Fried Foods
- Baked Goods
- Fast Foods
The best results will come if your caloric intake comes mainly from fats.
How to Consume Nopal Cactus
Nopal Cactus is an ingredient that is quite versatile. As a result, there are many ways you can take it.
This is probably the easiest and quickest way to take in Nopal Cactus. Swallowing a pill is very easy and you need not worry about losing its nutrients or fiber content through cooking.
You will find weight loss supplements that have Nopal Cactus as the sole ingredient, or you may find others that also contain other minerals, vitamins, and other ingredients that can help in weight loss. You can also enjoy Nopal Cactus as a drink, a snack, or as a meal.
In Mexican cuisine, Nopal Cactus is a common ingredient, and you can find a lot of recipes that use it. The leaf tastes like sour green beans but has a variety of flavours, a fragrance like sweet cucumbers, a slight crunch, and a smooth mucilaginous texture. The fruit of the cactus gives you a taste of watermelon with a floral tint. The flavour of Nopal Cactus can often depend on whether it has grown in the wild or whether it has been cultivated.
This is probably the easiest way to consume Nopal Cactus on the go. Making a habit of including the cactus as part of your diet becomes easy if you make it a fun part of your lifestyle so that, even if you are busy throughout the week, your consumption of it is guaranteed.
You will find many brands that sell prickly pear or Nopal Cactus water that will provide you with electrolytes, antioxidants, potassium, and yet have lesser sugar than coconut water.
The culture of healthy eating has led to plenty of blends of Nopal Cactus juices and smoothies being available for you to choose from. You will also find many of these creative smoothie recipes online.
Replace the greens in your favourite green smooth with Nopal leaf to give your smoothie a unique twist.
A recipe for you to try out.
The following ingredients must be blended:
- One large leaf of Nopal Cactus
- Fresh pineapples – 12 oz.
- One large or one and a half medium frozen banana
- Plain Greek yoghurt – 1 cup
- One Lemon or lime
- Almond Milk – 1 1/2 cups
- A third of a cup of water
- Honey as per taste
* The smoothie is more filling if you add a cup of nuts or oats
* One egg white gives you more protein
3. Snacks and Meals
Nopal Cactus has been domesticated, and as a result, you will find many meals and snacks that include it. You can eat its leaf pads raw or chop them up to make a crunchy part of your salad. Make it into chewy jerky or convert its fruit into jams, jellies, or alcohol. Eat the fruit raw, Use the flower petals of the cactus as a garnish for your meals or as part of a salad.
You can cook the leaves of Nopal as you would a vegetable, This does require some effort, but it is a way of enjoying its versatility.
Cooking Can Affect Your Food
Most cooking methods like simmering or boiling foods lead to nutrients like vitamins to leak into the liquid surrounding your food, which will reduce the amount you eat. Steaming or baking will have similar effects though they are healthier when compared to frying as the calorie content is lower. Fix this problem by saving the stock after you boil the cactus.
Cooking does lead to Nopal Cactus, losing some of its antioxidant effects. It also leads to an essential part of its soluble fibre, decreasing, which reduces its ability to absorb fat.
How much the fibre content is affected by cooking is not evident, but it must be noted.
Other Health Benefits of Nopal Cactus
Nopal Cactus has many other health benefits.
Type 2 Diabetes
When added to meals, this cactus regulates blood sugar, which can be good for you if you have Type 2 diabetes. It is also said to help with insulin sensitivity of cells so that sugar in the blood gets absorbed and reduced blood sugar levels.
It needs more research to judge its effectiveness in Type 2 diabetes, and you need to check with your physician before you use Nopal Cactus.
Help With Hangovers
Take some Nopal Cactus before you have a drink and you will be less likely to have a hangover. Studies have shown that this plant can reduce the inflammation resulting from hangovers, which reduces the otherwise commonly occurring symptoms of anorexia, dry mouth, and nausea. Hangovers depend on your tolerance for alcohol, the amount you drink, and your dehydration levels, but it cannot harm to get help where you can get it.
Help With Lowering LDL (Bad Cholesterol)
Nopal Cactus decreases LDLs in both mice and men, and if you include this vegetable into your diet, you will reduce the lipid level of the bad cholesterol and solve your cholesterol problems.
Side effects of Nopal Cactus
As a Supplement
There are no established side effects from Nopal Cactus supplements other than an allergy to the plant. Check with your physician before you use this supplement if you are:
- Allergic or hypersensitive to prickly pear
- Breast-feeding or pregnant
- Take other medications
As a Food
When you consume it as a food, there can be minor side effects like:
As a food, it is not suitable if you are suffering from IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You can still try it out, but be cautious while doing so.