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Benefits of the mexican cactus

Mexican cactus

The nopal or prickly pear pad is endemic to America. It is present in dozens of dishes and has been used historically from pre-Hispanic times to present day due to its medicinal benefits, both at home cooking as in Mexican haute cuisine. It also represents a national symbol. Its name comes from the Nahuatl language, specifically "nopalli."

It is a multifaceted ingredient that can be used in multiple ways and combinations, adding an exotic touch and regionality to dishes. You can make juice, cook, roast, fry and even eat in a salad or broth.

Only recently the culinary arts of other cultures outside of America started to include this ingredient. Its name comes from Nahuatl (Aztec language)Nopalli.

The nopal is a cactus (people consume its pulp and fruit) with more than 300 species in America. You can find most of them in Mexico and each of these cactus species will give a special touch to each dish, as well as a succulent flavour. However, people consume this cactus widely throughout Mexico mainly for its health benefits and properties (high in oxidants, vitamins and minerals). The main ones according to different medical sources are:

  • Lowers blood sugar level, preventing diabetes.

  • Lowers cholesterol.

  • It helps prevent cancer.

  • Increases immune resistance.

  • Protects the liver.

  • Helps relieve pain.

  • Speeds wound healing

  • Helps relieve constipation.

  • Reduces gastric acids.

  • Fights obesity.

  • Protects skin from wounds and burns (when applied topically).

Other main benefits of the cactus are in the contribution of:

  • Calcium

  • Proteins

  • Carbs

  • Iron

  • Ascorbic acid

  • Vitamins A, C, K, B1, B2, B3 and B6


The list of benefits of the Mexican nopal is long, as are its applications and flavours in the culinary arts. We can find it in dozens of dishes with nopales that exist in the different regions of Mexico.

In Rosa Negra, we have given ourselves the task of adding this pre-Hispanic ingredient to our delicious Latin American Cuisine menu. To your delight, we have some options that incorporate this healthy ingredient from ancient times: Charcoaled Nopal roll (nopal taco) made of nopal cactus pad, portobello, burnt corn, red serrano pepper, goat cheese and salsa or our  Wagyu Gaoneras with cactus pico de gallo.

There’s a saying that there is nothing more Mexican than Nopales, so on your next visit to Rosa Negra, in any of our locations, Cancun, Mexico City or Tulum, enjoy a cactus-based dish and be part of one of Mexico’s identity icons.

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