Can you eat cactus? 3 ways to benefit–and more

Yes you can!

How can you eat cactus?

Cactus is extremely beneficial as a food. It is high in fiber, calcium, potassium, and manganese. Scientists are always discovering how good it is, for example in fighting lung adenocarcinoma, cervical cancer, and leukemia.

#1: Direct

People have been eating cactus stems for a long time. It’s a traditional remedy for many ailments among the Mexicans.

You might find cactus pads in your supermarket. They can be eaten after you slice away the skin. Enjoy it by itself, in a salad, or in a stir fry. It’s slimy!

Cons of eating cactus straight

Raw

Scientists reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that eating cactus that is unprocessed isn’t the most beneficial way to consume it, as many phytochemicals may still not be available for digestion in this state.

Cooked

According to a 2013 study in Food Science and Technology, cooking methods such as boiling also destroy the valuable phytochemicals and antioxidants in cactus, particularly vitamin C and phenolic acids.

Processed is best

Research published in Food and Nutrition Research in 2013 showed that dehydrated matured cactus actually increased bone mass density in premenopausal women, potentially reducing their risk of osteoporosis. Such findings have led to cactus capsules for a variety of conditions.

#2: Capsules or tablets

These cactus supplements typically contain powdered cactus in capsule casings or in tablet form.

Surprisingly, I would recommend all of the following capsule products for their high purity. They also happen to use the same type of cactus.

Blood sugar

The blood sugar lowering effects of cactus are well documented in research. It is common to find cactus capsules targeted for this function.

Nopal blood sugar

Many people find HealthForce Nutritionals’ Nopal Blood Sugar helpful for blood sugar. The more informed ones have also been using it for digestion and reducing appetite.

Energy

Warrior Force Nutritionals’ Warrior Endurance is formulated for all round nutrition. It is indicated for hangovers too.

Warrior endurance

Cleansing


Seagate’s Nopal Cactus
is freeze dried cactus concentrated 100 times. The powder is encased in vegetable capsules. According to the ingredient list, there are no other ingredients, making it one of the better cactus products I have come across.

Nopal cactus

Although it is stated to be for cleansing, people are also finding this product good for diabetes and inflammation.

#3: Liquid extract

I don’t recommend extracts because they have to use something, for example alcohol, in the production process. You lose some of the natural goodness that way.

Heart Health

Cactus Grandiflorus by Herb Pharm is an alcohol extract you take by adding a few drops to beverages.
Cactus grandiflorus
People have experienced lower blood pressure after using it. The big problem is the high alcohol content that makes it unsuitable for those allergic to alcohol.

More valuable uses

Perhaps the most valuable use of eating cactus for everyone young and old is for nourishing the immune system.

Cactus contains a vast variety of phytochemicals, antioxidants, and polysaccharides that are beneficial to the immune system. For example:

  • phytosterols
  • fiber
  • p-hydroxybenzoic acid
  • p-coumaric acid
  • rutin
  • narcissin
  • nicotiflorin
  • β-sitosterol
  • sitosteryl-3-β-glucopyranoside
  • amino acids
  • organic acids
  • fatty acids

Heard of cactus juice?

Cactus juice is a convenient way to get immune boosting nutrients in cactus. Find out more about it here.

6 Comments on "Can you eat cactus? 3 ways to benefit–and more"


  1. Hmm, I knew about aloe vera having health benefits but in general cactus and eating them is something new.
    I have never tried eating a cactus as such, however the supplements that you suggest looks like a better way to get into the habit of cactus consumption.
    Thank-you for the information, I will surely try it out 🙂

    Reply

    1. It was my mother who introduced me to stir fried cactus. Later, I chanced upon a cactus juice product in my work. Since then I have been on the lookout for cactus products for the immune system. Hope you find something suitable for yourself here!

      Reply

  2. Interesting! I never really thought about the health benefits of cactus. Thanks for your honest review. As I probably would not like to eat cactus if it is slimy when cooked. I think the tablets are the way I would go! With the cactus drops, what could I put them on? Like food and eating it that way? Does the drops have any kind of taste? Great article, thanks for making it easy to read.
    –Rina

    Reply

    1. You can use the drops on anything. It is bitter. I have seen quite a few cactus powder/capsule/tablet products. I don’t really fancy tablets because they tend to crush and you lose out that way. That is why I favor capsule products.

      Reply

  3. I live in southern California and a lot of the native people here eat cactus. (tastes like green beans) but I didn’t know that eating it raw was probably not the best way. For once, processed is better!? Anyway, your post is very informative. I didn’t know there were so many options to ingest it. What’s your favorite?

    Reply

    1. My favorite is probably in powder form because it’s travel friendly and easy to store. Did you know freeze drying soon after harvesting retains nutrients better than buying home some of the plant foods we eat? That’s how some of the best cactus products are manufactured.

      Reply

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