Affiliations: [a] Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics Research Center, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA, USA
Corresponding author: Seema Patel, Bioinformatics and Medical Informatics Research Center, San Diego State University, 5500 Campanile Dr., San Diego, CA 92182, USA. Tel.: +9409811629; E-mail: email@example.com
Abstract: Opuntia cacti are found in prolific abundance in arid regions of the world. The fleshy stems (paddles or nopals) have been a staple vegetable in many parts of Latin America (Central America and Mexico) since long. Even the Southwest US population have developed an interest in them. Now, they have been validated to be good sources of vital phytonutrients viz. dietary fibres, vitamins, minerals, mucilage, pectin. The succulent pads packed with nutrition are envisioned to be imbibed in foods for nutritional augmentation. Apart from additives, the mucilage-opulent cladodes have shown promise as encapsulating agents. Several biological roles of nopal viz. antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, anti-ulcerogenic, anticancer, and hypoglycaemic have been authenticated. This review embodies the recent findings, risks associated, current trends of investigations and untapped potentials of this xerophytic resource. Wide consumption and mass cultivation of nopal is expected to play the dual role of supplying nutrition and averting food insecurity.