Nopales and Diabetes: How does it help?
Studies have been done for years about the benefits of Nopales but must of them are published in Spanish. Still there needs to be more done to have an effective scientific evidence of its long term effect. In México it’s a popular belief that if you drink a Nopal-fruit juice shake first thing in the morning you will lower your glucose levels. Of course, the industry has taken advantage of this alternative to sell powders, bottled drinks and tablets since the people has not doubt about its benefits and that it actually works for them. Nopales are also rich in calcium and high in fiber.
This is a cooking blog, I know that, but from time to time I receive emails from people asking me about other ways to cook nopales because they are eating them for medicinal reasons to lower their glucose levels. Like the email I received from Maria C., where she says that a lovely old lady told her to eat grilled nopales first thing in the morning, when she was told by her doctor that she had diabetes type 2. That was 5 years ago and she is doing great now. Thank you Maria for sharing your story with me.
It is not my intention to entertain you with all the details about the medical benefits of this cactus plant, but If you would like to learn more about the Nopales and diabetes studies, here is a series of links to research made by several Universities and well renowned Medical Institutions. They are in Spanish, please use your online translator.
Universidad Nacional de México, Mexican Institute of Health, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Universidad de Querétaro, Hospital IMSS de la Raza.
If you have never eaten nopales before, try adding them to stews like any other vegetable, made them scramble with eggs for breakfast, stuffed with cheese and then covered with an egg batter and fry, they have a mild flavor that you will get used to enjoy. Like this simple recipe that can also be prepared when grilling outside with your barbecue grill along with your steak as we do in some states in México. One nopal will be just enough for one person.
Grilled Cactus for 2 stove top version, but of course they will taste better in a charcoal grill.
2 medium size nopales, needles removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of you favorite melting cheese (optional)
1. Warm your griddle or cast iron grill. Brush the oil on each side of the nopal.
2. Place the nopalitos in your griddle and cook over medium heat turning until tender, about 8 minutes.
3. If using a cast iron grill cook until marked and tender. Just before serving top with the slice of cheese to melt. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve with a fresh salsa and warm tortillas. A healthy, low calorie dinner or lunch.
Other recipes with Nopales: How to cook Nopales, Nopales with Eggs, Cactus Salad, and Nopales with Chorizo.