Artichokes are beautiful and delicious green vegetables that are native to the Mediterranean region and offer incredible nutrition and multiple health benefits. They form part of the thistle family and have an array of edible buds and leaves which can be steamed, boiled, baked and pickled.
They are high in dietary fiber, low in fat and are saturated with incredible antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. They are known to boost immunity, lower blood pressure, nourish the digestive tract and even prevent liver disease. Artichoke consumption dates as far back as Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire where it was known as a delicacy and natural aphrodisiac that offered an array of health benefits.
Today artichokes are commonly produced globally and sold fresh, pickled and even in the form of a supplement known as artichoke extract. While its exterior may look intimidating it is relatively easy to prepare and a delicious way to get your body back into a healthy condition.
Here are 10 health benefits of artichokes:
1. It Improves Liver Health
The Department of Biochemistry in the Medical Faculty of Istanbul carried out a study in 2010 to observe the effect of artichoke on the health of the liver. Mice were kept on a high cholesterol diet while being supplemented with artichoke extract for 1 month and the results were very encouraging.
Due to the presence of a substance known as cynarin it was found that an artichoke rich diet can stimulate the production of bile in the liver while increasing the body’s ability to eliminate it. The findings were published in the Journal of Biological Trace Element Research and serves as evidence that artichokes have a positive effect on liver health.
A 2006 study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture found that artichokes were one of the highest sources of antioxidants in the world, beating even blueberries, wine and dark chocolate. The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Quercetin, rutin and anthocyanins are some of the powerful antioxidants that artichokes offer, which help to reduce free radical damage and reverse the signs of aging significantly.
3. Excellent for the Immune System
Each medium artichoke contains 25% of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C, which is also known as ascorbic acid. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps to boost immunity as well as increasing collagen production for faster wound healing.
4. Nourishes Your Digestive Tract
Each artichoke offers as much as 28% of your daily recommended value of dietary fiber, which is 25-35 grams per day according to the World Health Organization.
Dietary fiber promotes digestive health by eliminating excess waste, keeping bowel movements regular and increasing your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you eat. Insufficient fiber leads to constipation, fatigue and an increased risk of developing colon cancer.
Surveys has shown that the average American gets only 50% of the required dietary fiber per day, which makes artichokes an excellent way to get back on track.
5. Helps to Lower Cholesterol
A study conducted in 2001 involved 143 patients that had been diagnosed as having high cholesterol. For 6 weeks they were supplemented with artichoke extract to observe whether this plant had any positive effect. It was found that overall cholesterol was lowered by as much as 18%, which restored the patients back to a healthy state.
The high amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, as well as the rich dose of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins help to reduce the LDL levels of cholesterol, which is known as “bad” cholesterol. This helps to prevent heart disease, stroke and heart failure.
1 whole medium artichoke contains as little as 60 calories, zero fat and more than 10 grams of dietary fiber, which makes it an excellent choice in promoting weight loss.
The high dose of fiber makes it incredibly filling while giving your metabolism a boost.
7. Prevents Anemia and Fatigue
Artichokes are high in iron, offering up to 10% of the daily recommended amount per cup serving. Iron helps to increase the production of red blood cells, which serve as the oxygen transporters throughout the body. Low levels of iron in the body are associated with fatigue, anemia and poor cognitive function.
By eating more artichoke, you will be boosting oxygenation throughout your body, which helps to improve mental stamina, reduce fatigue and prevent anemia.
8. Lowers Blood Pressure
Fluid balance is important in maintaining a healthy blood pressure, and artichokes are the support for this.
They are low in sodium and high in magnesium and potassium, which improves circulation, eliminates excess fluid and reduces inflammation, resulting in a lowered risk of developing or maintaining life-threatening hypertension.
9. Excellent for Bone and Joint Health
Artichokes contain Vitamin C, Calcium and Vitamin K, which are excellent for improving the health of bones and joints. The Vitamin C helps to stimulate collagen production, which keeps joints lubricated and pain-free. The Calcium and Vitamin K help to build and maintain a healthy bone mineral density, as well as strengthening the connective tissues between bones.
Lastly, artichokes are a green vegetable and forms part of the list of highly alkalizing foods, which helps to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism significantly.
10. Reduces the Risk of Developing Cancer
Antioxidants have been studied for decades and have shown to reduce the development of cancer cells significantly as well as strengthening the immune system.
Artichokes contain polyphenols, which have particularly been linked to completely reversing the spread of cancer cells in diagnosed cancer patients. They also contain quercetin, Vitamin C and rutin which have been linked to reducing multiple types of cancer.
A study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture analyzed more than 1000 vegetables for their antioxidant value and found that artichokes ranked as one of the highest, officially ranking in 7th place. The more artichokes you eat, the better your chances of never developing cancer.