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Prickly pear pads, otherwise known as nopales, are a staple of Mexican cuisine: People in mid- to low socioeconomic populations in Mexico tend to eat them about three times a week. Apparently they're pretty tasty when stripped of their prickles and boiled up in bite-sized pieces.
The Diabetes Care study gathered 36 people with type 2 diabetes, made them fast for 18 hours, and then fed the hungry volunteers a delicious breakfast of either scrambled egg and tomato burritos; chilaquiles (cheese, beans, and tomato sauce with corn tortillas); or quesadillas with avocadoes and pinto beans. Some eaters got 85 grams of nopales as well.
Among the participants who ate nopales, those who'd chowed down on quesadillas had a 48 percent reduction in their after-meal blood sugar rise compared to the non-nopales breakfasters. The chilaquiles eaters had a 30 percent reduction in blood sugar, and the burrito consumers had a 20 percent reduction.
Padding your Mexican meal with nopales, conclude the authors, could be a cheap and effective way to help lower blood glucose rises after that irresistable quesadilla.
Source: Diabetes Care, May 2007