Background: Prickly pear cactus stem (nopal) has been used in folk medicine and a raw material since ancient times. Stems have been proved to possess components with valuable biological activities: anti inflamatory, antioxidant, antiulcerogenic, hypoglycemic, and so forth. Nowadays, people consume foods not only to cover the nutritional requirements, they also demand for healty, natural and convenient foods that show biological activity. This study evaluated the bio-functional effects of consuming tortillas or bars (filled with prickly pear fruit jam) supplemented or not with nopal dietary fiber. Results: The addition of nopal increased the fiber and polyphenols content in both tortillas (16.67%, 2.33 mg QE/L) and bars (13.79%, 1.99 mg QE/L). Furthermore the trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC, 1.47 mmol/L), polyphenols (7.67 mg QE/L) and vitamin C (77.91 micromol/L) showed increased levels in volunteer's plasma after intake. Also lower levels of glucose (4.43 mmol/L), total cholesterol (4.27 mmol/L), LDL (1.96 mmol/L) and triglycerides (1.54 mmol/L) were observed in plasma after the supplementation scheme with nopal-based tortilla, while GSH:GSSG ratio in erythrocytes was higher. Conclusions: The results suggested that the intake of nopal-based tortillas with high content in fiber and antioxidant compounds can help to improve the overall oxidative status in healthy humans, which can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. In addition, these products showed suitable physicochemical characteristics to be marketed.
Chemistry and Pharmacology