Let’s have a look at answering the question, are nopales keto friendly? You may be surprised to find out that nopales are keto approved so can easily be incorporated into a low carb, or ketogenic diet. Read on to find out some of our favorite serving suggestions as well as some of the amazing health benefits.
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What Are Nopales?
A nopal is part of a cactus plant that is found in Mexico and some southern parts of the United States. Sometimes, people will call nopal cactus a prickly pear cactus. It might be surprising to some, but this form of cactus is edible and is a common ingredient in many Mexican dishes.
A nopal is actually the pad of the cactus, and they can be eaten in their raw form or cooked as an ingredient in a variety of dishes.
Before we get into whether nopales are keto or not, let’s just have a quick recap on what keto is.
Nutritional Value Of Nopales
When examining one serving of raw nopales, which would be one cup, the nutritional value is as follows:
- Carbohydrates: 2.86 grams
- Fiber: 1.89 grams
- Fat: 0.08 grams
- Sugars: 0.99 grams
- Protein: 1.14 grams
- Calories: 13.8 calories
Net Carbs In Nopales
In one cup of raw nopales, you will be getting less than one gram of net carbs per serving. If you find foods with nopales as an ingredient, there is a good chance that the product is also low in carbs.
Why Are Net Carbs In Nopales Relevant?
If you’re new to keto and want a bit more information, check out our keto beginners guide.
As a quick summary, if you need it, the keto (also known as the ketogenic diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet.
The whole concept of the keto diet is that your body transitions from burning glucose, in simple terms, sugars or carbohydrates, to burning fat as its primary fuel source.
For a keto diet, people will restrict their macros to eating;
- 70% of their calories are from fat
- 25% from protein
- 5% from carbohydrates
Sticking to these macros for a period of time will put your body into a state of ketosis.
Ketosis is when your body has transitioned from burning carbohydrates as its primary fuel source to burning fat for fuel.
It is at this point that you will start to see and feel the benefits of the keto diet.
There are a lot of new terms and abbreviations that you may come across, sometimes it can feel like a new language that you need to learn.
Some people can be put off the keto diet because of the side effects, however, these are only short-lived and the health benefits of keto far outweigh the side effects.
One of the main benefits which attract people to the keto diet is that it can cause significant reductions in insulin levels (by up to 75%) and blood sugar levels, which can be attractive to those that struggle with diabetes, amongst other health complaints.
Are Nopales Keto Friendly?
Nopales are a delicious and nutritious addition to a keto diet. They offer a lot of versatility to many dishes.
They are very low in net carbs and add unique flavor and a nutritional punch to many healthy dishes.
Health Benefits Of Nopales
Nopales are rich in antioxidants, which are known from many scientific studies to be a vital part of a balanced diet, being that they are so beneficial for our bodies inside and out.
The antioxidants in nopales come from their flavonoid content, which also adds to their anti-inflammatory capabilities.
Nopales have also been a staple in traditional and alternative medicines, given that it is believed they can offer benefits to those living with conditions such as glaucoma, ulcers, fatigue, and liver issues.
Some studies have also found nopales can be helpful in preventing viral infections and can help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
How Can I Incorporate Nopales Into My Keto Diet?
Nopales are often added as an ingredient in popular Mexican dishes such as tacos. They can also be sauteed with a variety of other vegetables, so you can get your much needed daily source of vegetables without going over your net carbs for the day.
In Mexico, nopales, especially the sweeter varieties, are sometimes consumed in juice form. If you are looking to try nopales this way, opt for nopales that are more red or purple in color.