Water Insoluble Fraction of Nopal (Opuntia ficus) Cladodes Beneficially Affects Postprandial Appetite-related Variables, while the Soluble Fraction Has No Effect: A Randomized Crossover Study in Healthy Volunteers
Abstract: Introduction: The world has witnessed a global trend of increasing obesity, which is directly linked to non-communicable diseases, such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). The epidemic of obesity is largely associated with consumption of high calorie diets and low physical activity. Food choice and exercise have a big impact to prevent obesity and T2D making these diseases highly related to personal lifestyle. The diet is one of the most important modifiable lifestyle factors that may be used to prevent obesity. Nopal (Opuntia Ficus Indica) is a cactus plant that has its origin in Mexico and has been used as traditional medicine to prevent overweight and obesity. Since Nopal cladodes are rich in several bioactive compounds, it may be considered as a functional food. The objective of this study was to investigate the perceived effect of Nopal cladodes on appetite variables in healthy humans. Method: Two test-products with two different fractions of Nopal cladodes flour (soluble Nopal fraction bread (SNB) and insoluble Nopal fraction bread (INB)) and a control product (white wheat bread (WB)) were studied in healthy young volunteers (n=17). The subjective appetite variables (hunger, satiety and desire to eat) were measured repeatedly by using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) during a time perspective of three hours post consumption. Results: The INB resulted in significantly improved response in appetite variables (p < 0.05) compared to the WB. After consumption of the INB, the feeling of hunger and desire to eat were reduced by 27% and 32% respectively, while the feeling of satiety was increased by 25% during the period between 15-180 min post consumption. Importantly, the INB test product also resulted in a significant reduction on hunger and desire to eat, and an increased feeling of satiety during the final hour (120-180 min), compared to the control WB. Conclusion: The results indicate that the insoluble fraction of Nopal flour may beneficially affect appetite variables in healthy young adults. The results thus suggest that Nopal may help to modulate food intake and therefore contribute to antidiabetic effects previously observed with this edible plant.
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