Nopalitos, Mucilage, Fiber, and Cochineal

Carmen Sáenz-Hernández, Joel Corrales-García and Gildardo Aquino-Pérez

in Cacti

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231573
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927889 | DOI:
Nopalitos, Mucilage, Fiber, and Cochineal

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This chapter discusses some of the important uses of the cactus plant. Cacti are important as a vegetable, as a dietary supplement, and as the host for the red-dye-producing cochineal. A common use of cactus stems is nopalitos—tender young cladodes—a traditional vegetable eaten fresh or cooked in various dishes. Nopalitos are generally obtained from Opuntia ficus-indica, Opuntia robusta, or Nopalea spp, and contain complex polysaccharide mucilage, which has great potential as part of dietary fiber. The production of cladode products as over-the-counter medicinal products is growing fast. Cladode-derived products are sold for the control of diabetes, cholesterol, gastric and intestinal afflictions, and obesity. Two types of cochineal, the dye-producing cactus parasite, are also recognized.

Keywords: cacti; cochineal; nopalitos; cladodes; Opuntia ficus-indica; Opuntia robusta; Nopalea; dietary fiber; cladode products; medicinal products

Chapter.  14553 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Plant Sciences and Forestry

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