In 2022, we’ve come very far in terms of what we consider healthy and what we don’t. The diet culture from the early 2000s consisted of idealizing stick-thin bodies even if it meant extreme starvation and harmful diet culture.
Since then, there have been more and better conversations about diets and food in general. People are still stuck in the limbo of appearing better.
However, the conversation around food and weight loss has shifted from appearance to having a better quality of life.
It’s not about starving oneself to achieve the perfect look but rather eating and sticking to a diet that serves you and you alone.
Weight loss used to be about achieving a certain figure on the weighing scale ten years ago.
However, sometimes weight loss is necessary because of the health conditions that people may encounter.
In people with heart conditions or diabetes, weight loss may help manage their health. However, weight loss isn’t easy, and most diet pills are dangerous and come with many side effects.
There are many detoxes and “fit” teas that people have called out for being laxatives in pretty packaging. This fact has led many people to search for healthier and natural alternatives.
The cactus plant is a healthy alternative that people have started to use for their health benefits and to help with their weight loss.
In the article below, we’ll look at what cactus is and how it may help weight loss.
What Is a Cactus Plant?
Cacti are succulent perennial plants. They have thick herbaceous or wood-like herbaceous stems.
Cacti are succulents; however, they’re extremely distinct.
The main distinction is that cactus plants have areoles which are small, spongy holes with plant hairs, and in many species, these spongy structures have spines or some bristles.
Areoles act like branches, and more branches grow from these branches.
Many cactus plants occur in segments. One segment grows after another until we get a complete branch of cactus pads.
These cactus pads, if cut open, will release a cactus sap as they have a high amount of water stored in them.
In most cactus plants, leaves are absent. However, cactus plants also have flowers.
How Does Cactus Plant Help with Weight Loss?
According to research conducted in Phytotherapy Research in 2010, which was conducted on Wistar rats, administering a cactus extract to rats helped increase their diuretic and antioxidant function. Diuresis is the process of urine formation. It means that it helped with much of the water weight in people.
However, this study was conducted on rats, so how does it translate in humans? The researchers also conducted a trial with 49 women with a normal BMI and administered a 2-gram cactus dose or placebo to these women for 28 days.
They noted a significant loss of fat and weight in the women who were given cactus extract. However, the data from this research was never published, so you must take it with a grain of salt.
In 2014, another research was conducted by a different group of scientists in a 3-month-long clinical trial.
They wanted to understand if cactus had any effect on the levels of fecal fat in healthy volunteers. The study involved two subjects receiving cactus fiber/ extract or placebo with their meals for 45 days.
Their fecal matter was collected over this time. The results indicated that the cactus caused an increase in fecal fat excretion compared to the placebo sample.
These two studies help us determine that cactus does affect weight loss in subjects in several ways.
Diet pills also help people lose water weight and so we can maybe think about cactus extract as a more natural alternative.
Much research claims that the nopal cactus helps with diabetic development and insulin resistance.
This fact helps with the accumulation of fat.
In the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, scientists found that people eating Nopal cactus along with a breakfast rich in Carbohydrates still showed significantly lower levels of blood sugar even after the ingestion.
The insulin levels also remain tapered after the meal. The Nopal cactus did help to a certain degree.
Cactus has a very high fiber content, which means that it is good for your gut and helps with easy digestion.
Nopal cactus has nutrients that help reduce internal inflammation so you can digest foods with relative ease.
This fact means you’re less likely to contract constipation and diarrhea. It also causes less bloating, enabling you to avoid ulcers and colon cancers.
Nopal Cactus Decreases Sugar Levels
We’ve talked about how the Nopal cactus reduces blood sugar levels.
People use Cactus extracts to help them maintain and regulate blood glucose levels together along with medicine.
Cactus plants and other succulents like Aloe Vera also help immensely in maintaining blood sugar levels in people who have high insulin.
High levels of sugar in the blood are often related to weight gain, and thus, lowering sugar levels means that you can get help with your overall weight.
Rids You of Excess Fluid
Nopal cactus plants have diuretic properties, which lets them help you flush excess fluids from tissues and drain them in your blood. People with obesity have excess fluids which gather in tissues.
The diuretic property in cactus plants helps eliminate all the excess fluid, which may collect in the body.
Cactus Have Fewer Calories
Another way that the cactus plant helps with weight loss is by making you feel full. You can grill and eat a whole cactus pad, and you’ll feel full.
However, most Nopal cactus plants only 70 calories in a paddle which is nothing. You’ll receive nourishment and energy, and it makes you feel full.
When you feel full, you’re less likely to binge or eat. This property also helps you get rid of a few extra pounds that you were otherwise putting on.
How to Prepare Cactus for Your Food
People generally use the nopales or the cactus paddles to use in their food. There are many ways that you can eat cactus. You can eat it in a salad or cut it up and boil it.
Some people also like preparing it the same way they would a good piece of meat. Before you cook cactus, you will have to prepare it.
We have given the steps to prepare cactus below:
- Put the cactus paddle on your cutting board and use a sharp knife to trim off the edge. Now, use a pair of tweezers to pull out any long spines connected to the areoles.
- Scrape the thorns and eyes, running your knife from back to front until it’s all clean.
- Rinse the paddles thoroughly once you complete the steps above with all of them.
Once you prepare the cactus pads, you can use them in various recipes.
You can cut them up and toss them in a salad, or you can fry up your grill them and char them until they’re cooked.
There have been many preliminary studies that define how cactus can help us with weight loss.
However, you cannot take these studies as fact. The best thing about consuming the cactus plant to reduce your weight is that it doesn’t have any harmful side effects.
It’s safe and natural. However, ask your doctor to recommend a dose so it’s safe for you.
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