Artichokes, scientifically known as Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus is a vegetable that originated in the Mediterranean regions. Read on to find out 10 health benefits of artichoke.

This plant has been well known for its potential medical health benefits. Artichoke can improve heart and liver health, lower blood sugar levels, and improve digestion due to various compounds. Its popularity is increasing as a supplement.

Unfortunately, artichokes don’t make for the list of top sold veggies. As most people are not aware of the health benefits, this vegetable can provide.

10 health benefits of artichoke:

According to a survey (Boriss, 2005), almost 70% of people enjoy the veggie at restaurants but don’t like to buy and prepare artichoke at home. Here are 10 health benefits of artichoke that will let you know why you should add this veggie into your daily diet routine.

Contains lots of nutrients:

Artichoke is packed with tons of powerful nutrients. A medium raw artichoke contains:

  • Fiber: 6.9 grams
  • Fat: 0.2 grams
  • Vitamin K: 24% of the daily recommended intake
  • Vitamin C: 25% of the daily recommended intake
  • Carbs: 13.5 grams
  • Protein: 4.2 grams
  • Riboflavin: 5% of the daily recommended value
  • Thiamine: 6% of the daily recommended value

Artichoke is low in fat but rich in minerals, vitamins, and fiber. This veggie contains a large number of important minerals like phosphorus, potassium, iron, and magnesium. A higher amount of folate, vitamin C and K are also present in it.

According to a study (Negro, 2012), Artichoke ranked at the top of most antioxidants among all vegetables. one medium, Artichoke, contains almost 7 grams of fiber which is 28% of our daily recommended value.

Helps in lowering bad cholesterol:

Artichoke leaves extract proved to have a positive effect on cholesterol levels. According to a large review of 700 people (Sahebkar, 2017) the people who take the supplements of artichoke leaf extract experience a reduction in bad cholesterol levels.

Another study (Englisch, 2000) of 143 adults shows that artichoke leaf extract can reduce the bad cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol if taken regularly for six weeks.

This effect of artichoke on cholesterol levels is due to the presence of luteolin, an antioxidant that prevents the formation of bad cholesterol.

Moreover, the artichoke leaves extract increases cholesterol processing, leading to its overall lower level. And this low level of cholesterol can help in improving heart health as bad cholesterol can be a risk factor for many heart diseases.

Improves liver health:

Artichoke can help in protecting liver cells from damage and also increase the growth of new cells. Artichoke is also studied to increase the production of bile, which plays an important role in removing harmful toxins from the liver.

For example, in one animal study (Morsy, 2014) artichoke extract was given to rats with liver damage, resulting in higher oxidant levels, better liver functions, and less liver damage in those given the extract.

Studies also show the positive effects of artichoke on human liver health as well. For example, one study (Panahi, 2018) of a group of people suffering from fatty liver disease found out that consuming 600 mg of artichoke on a daily basis improves liver function.

It also found the reduced liver inflammation and less deposition of fat as compared to those who weren’t consuming artichoke extract. And the reason behind these benefits could be Cynarin and silymarin, oxidants present in the artichoke.

Helps regulate blood pressure:

Artichoke can also be very helpful for people suffering from high blood pressure. According to a study (Roghani-Dehkordi, 2009) of a group of men suffering from high blood pressure, consuming artichoke extract daily for several weeks can reduce both diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

This is due to the ability of artichoke to promote the enzyme eNOS, which plays an important role in making the blood vessels wider.

Moreover, artichoke also contains potassium in a good amount, a mineral that helps to regulate blood pressure. If you are not able to eat the whole artichoke, then try artichoke extract to get all of these benefits.

Helps improve digestive health:

Artichoke contains a higher amount of fiber which can help in keeping the digestive system healthy. High fiber can promote friendly gut bacteria, which reduce the risk of certain digestive diseases like diarrhea, constipation, bowel cancer, and indigestion. Artichoke also contains inulin, a type of fiber that acts as a probiotic in keeping the gut healthy.

According to a study (Ramirez-Farias, 2008) of adults, consuming artichoke extract containing Inulin for several weeks experienced a great improvement in gut bacteria.

The extract of these vegetables can also help in reducing symptoms of indigestion like bloating, heartburn, and nausea.

Another study of 247 people (Holtmann, 2003) suffering from indigestion found out that consuming artichoke leaf extract regularly for several weeks can reduce the uncomfortable feeling of fullness compared to those who are not taking this extract.

Cynarin, a natural compound, can be the reason behind all these positive effects of artichoke, like improving digestion, gut movement, and bile production.

Reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome:

Irritable bowel syndrome is a digestive health condition that can cause diarrhea, bloating, constipation, stomach pain, and flatulence.

According to a study (Walker, February) the people who consume artichoke daily feel great relief from symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Moreover, 96% of participants found out this vegetable was as effective as other irritable bowel syndrome-like laxatives and anti-diarrheal treatments.

This is due to the presence of antispasmodic properties of the certain compound of artichoke. This means these compounds can reduce inflammation, improve gut bacteria’s health, and stop muscle spasms, which are common in irritable bowel syndrome.

If you don’t like to eat this vegetable, the capsules are also present, which contain artichoke leaf extract. These capsules can provide the same benefits as artichoke.

A study (Rafe Bundy, 2004) of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome found out that 1-2 capsules of artichoke leaf extract if consumed daily for 2 months, can reduce symptoms of digestive problems up to 26% and make the quality of life better.

Can help maintain blood sugar level:

Artichoke can also help in marinating blood sugar levels and is a very good option for diabetic patients to add to their diet plan.

One study (Rondanelli, 2011) of adults suffering from obesity found out that consuming artichoke with kidney beans on a regular basis lowers their fasting blood sugar levels compared to those who are not taking these.

Adding boiled artichoke to a meal can also reduce the blood sugar level 30 minutes after consumption. This is because artichoke has shown the ability to slow down the activity of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose and affects the blood sugar level in the body.

But if you are already using the supplement for diabetes, consult your doctor before taking artichoke leaf extract supplements or adding Artichoke into your diet plan.

Has possible anti-cancer effect:

Certain antioxidants present in artichoke like gallic acid, rutin, silymarin, and quercetin can provide the anti-cancer effect. Studies have shown the benefits of artichoke in reducing the growth of cancer cells.

For example, According to a test tube and animal study, (Mukhtar, 1996) silymarin present in artichoke can help in preventing the risk of skin cancer.

Helps in fighting against allergies:

Diet rich in vegetables like artichoke, which contains antioxidants, can help in reducing inflammation. Research (Elizabeth C Matsuii, 2009) the benefits of artichoke in preventing allergies and asthma due to the presence of folate, which is a vitamin B that reduces inflammation. It can also be useful during pregnancy as artichoke has a tendency to increase the immune system.

Artichoke contains polyphenols, which repair damaged cells and improve immune function. Polyphenols are the phytochemicals that are present in plants and give them color.

Jerusalem artichokes provide protective prebiotics:

The green artichokes, which are mostly found in the market, are also known as globe artichokes. The Jerusalem artichoke is not green in color and is related to sunflowers; these are also referred to as sunchokes. These artichokes also provide health benefits.

Jerusalem artichoke can be eaten both raw or cooked. Besides the presence of Inulin in this artichoke, these are also a great source of prebiotics as well.

Prebiotics are very important for gut health as these are beneficial for the gut bacteria and also improve immune function and enhance mood.

On the other hand, Inulin can help in the absorption of important minerals like calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins. Inulin has also been linked to the prevention of risk of various cancers like colorectal and breast cancer. 

According to a paper published in cellular and molecular biology about vegetables’ functional and medicinal benefits.

The research found out that this artichoke has anti-cancer, antioxidant, and anti-fungal properties, as these are very helpful in lowering cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and triglycerides levels.

These are also considered to be helpful in losing weight, improving the digestive system, and detoxing the alcohol and heavy metals from the body. The inulin is also present in the globe artichoke, but the amount is higher in Jerusalem artichokes.

How to select artichokes:

While artichoke can provide many health benefits, it is very important to choose fresh artichoke and cook it properly to obtain all of these benefits.

When buying fresh artichokes at the market, look out for the heavy ones, whose leaves are firm and tightly packed, not squishy. These are signs of the freshness of these veggies.

How to cook artichokes:

Cooking artichoke is not as difficult as most people think. It just takes a little bit more time to cook artichoke as compared to other veggies.

To cook artichoke, wash it properly first, then chop its top and cut off the stem. Place the trimmed artichoke in the bowl and squeeze some fresh lemon onto it to prevent it from turning brown.

Now open the leaves outward from the center, drizzle some avocado oil, and place peeled garlic in the center. Sprinkle some kosher salt on the veggie and transfer it to the foil. Pour some juice if left in the bowl and double wrap it into the foil.

Preheat the oven to 425℉, then place the artichoke into the oven and bake for about one and a half-hour. Once the artichoke is cooked enough, open it up, and take the garlic out.

Now pull off the purple leaves and remove the inedible section called choke with the help of a spoon. Pull off the outer leaves and enjoy the heart of the artichoke.

You can enjoy it with dip, sauce, hummus, or seasoned tahini. The whole leaf of artichoke is not edible. Scrape off the tender part and discard the tough outer section. Then enjoy the inner delicious edible part by drizzling some vinegar.

How to add artichoke to meals:

There is not only one method of cooking and adding artichoke into your diet plan. Artichoke can be added to the diet in many different ways, including:

  • Boiled
  • Sautéed
  • Grilled
  • Roasted
  • Artichoke leaf extract
  • Stuffed or breaded

Steaming is another famous method of consuming artichoke in the diet. This method doesn’t take much time as it only takes 20-40 minutes to steam a medium artichoke. Different seasonings can also be added to enhance the taste of this veggie.

Bottom line on 10 health benefits of artichoke:

Artichoke is a highly nutritious and low-carb food that can provide a lot of health benefits. Many pieces of evidence from studies show the positive effect of artichoke extract on health. These were only 10 health benefits of artichoke, and there are many more.

Regular consumption of artichoke extract can help in maintaining cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which both impact heart health.

Moreover, artichoke extract is also suitable for liver health and prevents digestive problems. Artichoke extract supplements are also available for people who don’t like to use this extract directly.

But there are a few conditions in which artichoke should be used only by the consultation of a physical health consultant.

For example, some people who are allergic to artichoke should avoid this veggie and its extract. Pregnant and breastfeeding women also use this veggie on the recommendation of a dietitian.

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