Is Cactus Keto-friendly? How To Eat It Right On Keto Diet?

Cactus is a common food item that many people enjoy. It can be eaten raw or cooked into dishes to add flavor and nutrients.

Cactus is also known for its high water content, making it ideal for those on the keto diet who are looking to drink more fluids in their day.

However, there are some drawbacks to cactus that may affect your keto diet: they’re not low carb enough (it’s considered a fruit), and they have too much sugar!

So is cactus keto-friendly? We will go into the answer, and at the end of the article, I introduce you to many delicious dishes prepared with cactus that guarantee macro. Let’s go!

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Is cactus keto-friendly?

Yes, cactus is keto-friendly, but not without some caveats.

First is the sugar content of the cactus. If you’re strictly following a keto diet with less than 50g of net carbs per day, then it’s best to avoid eating too many fruits.

Cactus falls into this category as it contains 19g of total carbs (12g are fiber and 7g are sugar).


The other issue we see from our members on the forum are those who struggle with adding nopales to their ketogenic dish during cooking time.

Other members suggest blanching in boiling water for two minutes first before adding them to your dish or removing any stems if there’s more severe concern over spiking blood sugar levels.

Second, you need to be aware that cactus does contain some amount of carbs per serving. That being said, it still counts as a zero-carb food item.

This is a question that quite a few people ask. Castus, at first glance, looks very thorny and scary. But when the outer spiny cuticle is removed, the cactus will give you a slice of very nutrient-rich meat.

Cactus is native to the Opuntia cactus of Central America and the deserts of North America. In the U.S. has more than 90 species of Opuntia cactus. 

In addition to domestication used to propagate plants, cactus also serves as a valuable food source.

Castus generally consists of the leaves and the fruit. Each part provides different benefits to the body. Cactus fruit is keto-friendly but has more carbohydrates than cactus leaves.

How many carbs are in the cactus? Nopales and Prickly Pear’s nutrition facts

Castus generally consists of the leaves and the fruit. Each part provides different benefits to the body. Cactus fruit is keto-friendly but has more carbohydrates than cactus leaves.

In addition to domestication used to propagate plants, cactus also serves as a valuable food source. Castus generally consists of the leaves and the fruit, which provide different benefits to your body when consumed separately or combined.

Cactus is not just a tasty delicacy; it is also rich in plenty of vitamins and nutrients that could prove beneficial for your health!

Nopales (Cactus Leaf) nutrition facts & benefit

Cactus leaves, also known as nopales, are the edible parts of prickly pear cacti.

Nopales plants in southern and southeastern United States, but they need to be boiled for about 2 minutes before consuming if you want to cook them.

Nopales are not only delicious; they’re also packed with a lot of nutrition!

Per 100 grams of this plant, you’ll absorb:

  • About 1g fat
  • 8g protein
  • 11-16 g fiber, which bulks up your stomach and decreases feelings of hunger (helpful for weight loss).
  • You’ll also get 16% daily value vitamin C and 15% calcium.

As far as nutrients go, there’s a good chance that you can get all the vitamins you need from nopales, even without eating anything else.

Prickly Pear (Cactus Fruit) nutrition facts & benefits

Prickly pear fruit is rich in an antioxidant called beta-carotene, which helps maintain vision, brain function, and red blood cell production.

It’s also high in vitamin C and low-glycemic—excellent food for those on a Keto diet.

Source: CactusWay

Prickly pears are low in calories and high in fiber, meaning they will fill you up with less than their weight. They’re also naturally very sweet, so it feels like you’re having something more indulgent than you are!

Prickly Pears Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database:

100 grams of Prickly Pear contains (not counting water)

And, Prickly pears are keto-friendly! According to Lose It!, one medium-sized prickly pear contains 2 grams of net carbs.

So, in summary, nopales contain very little carbohydrates (less than 4 grams per 100 g) while prickly pear fruit has more (around 8 grams per 100 g); however, the latter is much higher in fiber that can contribute to your weight loss goals.

What does cactus taste like?

The flavor of cactus varies depending on the type you eat. Cactus fruit tastes a little like honey and can be eaten raw or made into jelly.

Cactus leaves have a more substantial, earthier flavor and can be consumed with other vegetables in soups or salads.

There are many different ways to cook with them, highlighting their diverse flavors for an exciting touch to any dish you’re cooking!

How to eat cactus right on a keto diet

Let’s get into the details on how you can add cactus fruit to your keto diet for both savory and sweet dishes!

If you’re following a stricter form of the keto diet, then 20g net carbs per day is your target. For this reason, it’s best to avoid having too many fruits in your keto meal plan.

Cactus fruit is a keto-friendly food option because it tastes sweet and can be used in savory dishes.

Cactus leaves – which have an earthier flavor – can add tangy spice to veggie salads or soups. There are no limits when using them both – you’ll never get bored of their taste.

Cactus is an excellent addition to salads (especially with keto-friendly taco and low carb gyro meat); chop off the top of the cactus, then use a spoon to scoop out all its juicy goodness!

Grilled Cactus Salads. Source: Kevin is Cooking

Cactus is an excellent source of antioxidants and water, so feel free to toss them into your salads daily.

Cactus general benefits

It is known as nopales in the U.S. and is a nutritional powerhouse — high in protein and low in calories.

They’re loaded with antioxidants, water, and fiber too! If you’re looking for a way to boost your nutrition on keto or feel like losing weight, cactus is an excellent way to do both!

The fruit is sweet but has been found only minimally carb-heavy because of its healthier fiber. The leaves offer more dense nutrition but also come peppered with spiky needles that should not be touched under any circumstances!

Nopales have become famous for their:

The University of Texas study found that prickly pear extract helped fight asthma, cardiovascular disease, and cancer cells!

Recipes including cactus

Nopalitos cake

Cactus is very versatile, so you can also use them to make cakes and even pancakes! You can find the recipe for nopalitos cake here:

Castus noodles

Cactus noodles are also a great way to add some delicious crunchy texture to keto meals, and it’s super easy to make!

All you need to do is cut off the cactus top and use a peeler or vegetable slicer (basically, any kitchen utensil that can make long noodles) to make the cactus into noodle shapes.

If you want them to be more al dente, then add a little bit of lemon juice and salt into boiling water before adding in the cactus. You can also cut it up with scissors instead of more variety (I do if I’m preparing a big salad with cactus).

Removing all the spines from the cactus can be a bit daunting at first, but it’s not too difficult.

First of, you’ll need to wear rubber gloves and use a knife to cut off the bottom of the cactus, where many spines are located. Make sure that you’ve removed all the spines, then cut it into pieces.

You can either use a cheese grater or zester to remove the thorns, but I find that using a peeler is easier and safer. The last step is to put your prepared cactus in boiling water for about 5 minutes (you can also cook it in a microwave for 3 minutes) and then drain it.

Black cactus (which is actually green in color!) is the most common type of cactus used for cooking, but you can also cook red, prickly pear, globe, queen’s crown, senita/senita de Maguey, or white ones.

Each of these has a slightly different flavor, so you can have multiple side dishes by simply switching up the types of cactus you use!

Final thoughts

Okay, now you found the answer to the question it cactus keto-friendly or not.

Not only is it keto-friendly, but it also offers a lot of health benefits, as I described above. So there is no reason why you should not add it to your keto meals.

Cactus is an excellent water source as it contains 92% and is low in calories, with only 20 net carbs per serving.

If you have been following the keto diet, we hope this blog post has helped you find a new tasty food to try. Feel free to leave us comments below if you enjoyed this post and found it helpful 🙂

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