Health Benefits of Artichokes that You Need to know for Better Living
Health benefits of artichokes come with fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K1, folate, magnesium, potassium, iron, and copper. Artichokes also have phytonutrients called inulin. Inulin is a prebiotic that promotes proper nutrients absorption. We can absorb it from the fiber content of artichoke.
Health benefits of artichokes come with the right amount of fiber. How many fibers can we get from a single artichoke? A medium-sized artichoke has 6.9 grams of fiber approximately. With this much fiber, it has a significant impact in weight loss program.
Aside from fiber, we can get an adequate amount of antioxidants and vitamin C. These two nutrients are useful for treating damage cells causing cancer tumors and other significant diseases.
Also, we can have cynarin in artichoke. Cynarin is responsible for the promotion of bile production in the liver. Bile is essential in digestion and absorption of nutrients as well. The sugar compound in artichoke can be identified as ‘fructooligosaccharides’ or oligofructose. This natural sweetener slows downs appetite which makes us less hungry. It is another excellent opportunity for us to be fit and healthy at the same time.
All about Artichoke and its health benefits
Before going into details of artichoke nutritional value, let us go through with the history of artichoke; how can we grow artichoke; and what are the artichoke varieties.
Artichoke came from the earliest civilization in the Greek and Roman era. It was considered as one of the oldest vegetables. The first recorded place where artichoke was cultivated is in Naples around the 9th century CE. Then, it followed by Muslim Spain and Maghreb regions in Northwest Africa. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Italy and France started to produce artichokes. Lastly, around the 19th century, French introduced artichokes to the United States.
The word ‘artichoke’ has a long history of how we came up with the name. Sometime in the 1530s, artichoke got the first name ‘articiocco’ followed by ‘arcicioffo’ of Italy and ‘alcarchofa’ from Old Spain. Later on, Arabic people have called this vegetable ‘artichoke’ or a plant with a big stump mass on the top. The term ‘choke’ has no relation to any botanical or biological term. The term evolved from Italy, ciocco, which means stump. The word ‘arti’ is an old prefix, which means high. And with that, we now call this beautiful plant—artichoke.
So, how can we grow artichoke?
Artichoke is a versatile vegetable if you plan to grow them. It does not need extra care as long as the farm area has full sunlight. You also need to have enough irrigation that will keep the soil moist all the time.
There are three methods in planting artichokes. You can plant it using the seeds, roots, and even the shoots. The most straightforward procedure is to plant the artichoke through the root method. Just place the root in the soil with some spacing of about 1.5 meters apart from each root. Growing artichokes needs a lot of space. It becomes about 2 meters high, and the leaves can produce approximately 80 cm long. The full-grown buds of the flowers have a diameter up to 15 cm. It will take six months before its maturity. Once it was full-grown, you can harvest artichoke up to 30 times in one season.
The best farm condition for artichoke should have mild winters and cool summers. Therefore, the top producing countries of artichokes are Egypt, Italy, and Spain. Then, Peru and California-USA followed to sustain the growing demand for artichokes.
Varieties of Artichoke
Since artichokes have different origins, it comes into different types. It is essential to learn about artichoke varieties. In this way, we can identify each characteristic.
Each variety has a different appearance. As a member of the thistle family plant, the parts of the artichoke is unique from the other vegetables. For instance, we can use the botanical term ‘bract’ for the leaf of artichoke. Leaf of the artichoke has many thorns. On the top part, we use the term ‘globe’ for the artichoke fruits.
The bract and globe of artichokes may differ from each variety. There are nine artichoke varieties; you can grow and find them in the supermarkets. We can distinguish each array because of the shape and color, the green and red.
Artichokes come in green
Green varieties of the artichoke are Chianti, Big Heart, and Classic Green Globe. Let us dive into each green variety of artichoke and learn the unique characteristics of each one.
One of the green varieties is Chianti artichoke. It has the classic shape of artichoke with four inches diameter. The leaves have green and maroon colors.
Artichoke shaped like a wide heart is another variety with 3.5 to 5.5 inches in diameter. It has a plump base and weighs more substantial than other artichokes. If you need to make a stuffed artichoke, you have to choose the Big Heart artichoke variety.
Moreover, the classic green globe is the last green variety of artichokes. Classic green globe artichoke is the common artichoke in the market. The taste of the globe is creamy like butter. The size ranges between 3 to 5 inches in diameter.
Artichokes in red
After we learned about the green varieties of artichoke, let us induce our self with the red types. There are six varieties of red or deep-wine color artichokes – King, Omaha, Mercury, Siena, Baby Anzio, and Fiesole.
The first of red variety is King artichoke; it can weigh almost one kilogram during harvest season. You can find green spots at the tips of its leaves. The globe has a diameter size of about four inches.
Another red variety is the Omaha artichoke. It measures two inches bigger than the average size of the artichoke. The appearance of Omaha is different from other artichokes. It has pointy leaves with red and green hues. The taste is less bitter than other artichokes varieties.
Artichokes in red-violet colors with a round top shape are the Mercury variety. This variety has a sweet taste but smaller than the average size of the artichoke. It only measures 3.5 inches in diameter.
On the other hand, if you have seen an oblong shape artichoke with pure red color, you are meeting the Siena variety. The characteristic of Siena is different from other artichokes. It can be eaten raw. The harvest time is longer than other artichokes varieties.
Finally, the two red varieties of the artichoke are Baby Anzio and Fiesole. The Baby Anzio has a purple and a light red color tone. Also, it is the smallest artichoke with one-inch diameter until fully grown.
Another red variety and the last one in our list is the Fiesole artichoke. We can appreciate this variety because of the fruity flavor it has. The color of Fiesole artichoke remains while cooking. Unlike other variation, the color fades after cooking.
However, one of the varieties of artichoke that not farm grown is cardoon. Cardoon can be found in the wild and not being cultivated yet. But, it is edible because of its leaf ribs. You can enjoy it stewed or just raw with olive oil and garlic.
Health Benefits of Artichokes
Knowing about the origin and varieties of artichokes is essential. But, it is necessary to learn the nutritional value it provides.
It is impressive that artichoke had been one of the crops planted around the world. It was discovered as one of the best weight loss foods. At first, we are taking it for granted without realizing the health benefits of artichokes.
Given this, we should only eat artichokes in moderation. Aside from weight loss, we can have other health benefits in artichokes. As one of the fiber-rich foods, it promotes the prevention of health problems.
Artichokes for Prevention of Type-2 Diabetes and as Heart Healthy Food
To prevent type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, we need to have a daily intake of adequate vitamins and minerals. It also includes fiber. These nutrients are the heart’s healthy food to make us fit and healthy.
We can avoid the occurrences of Type-2 diabetes. We need to know how to protect our pancreas and maintain the average level of our blood sugar. The fructan compound in artichokes promotes prebiotic in our digestive tract. Prebiotic prevent the escalating of our blood sugar level. Also, the fiber in artichokes contributes to reducing bad cholesterol.
Reduction in bad cholesterol will lead our body to healthy roads. Artichokes leaf extracts can boost our production of vitamin D. The leaf extracts contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamins. These nutrients are vital to avoid chronic illness. It will also make our blood vessels and heart arteries to function normally.
Artichokes as Cancer Preventing Food
Aside from fighting diabetes and chronic diseases, artichokes have nutrients that can prevent cancer. Unlike other cancer-fighting foods, artichoke has many antioxidants. Antioxidants are necessary to fight free radicals.
According to USDA, artichoke stands as seventh on the list of antioxidant-rich foods. It contains polyphenols, quercetin and rutin. Enough antioxidants in our body provide compounds that fight free radicals or damaged cells. Damaged cells affect the overall structure of our body with long-term oxidation. Detoxification of free radicals can prevent cancer growth and other degenerative diseases.
Antioxidants are not solely responsible for cancer prevention. Vitamin C also contributes to maintaining our immune system. In artichoke, vitamin C protects our healthy cells from the radiation therapy of damaged cells. It reduces the recurrence of cancer cells in our body.
Artichokes for Good Digestion
As mentioned earlier, artichoke is a good source of inulin. Inulin is fructan fibers that help in weight loss. It provides support for food digestion and prevents stomach discomfort.
Daily consumption of adequate fiber from artichoke comes with all the nutrients your body needs. Some nutrients like caffeic acid and flavonoids prevent stomach complications like constipation and diarrhea. It also helps in the elimination of toxins from our body.
However, too much intake of artichokes fiber has many side effects. You can experience bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea. Fructan fibers are high with fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are fibers with carbohydrates components that our body cannot digest. It can happen if we overeat vegetables with inulin. Other foods with inulin are asparagus, garlic, bananas, onions, and wheat.
Artichokes Improve Brain Function
Another health benefits of artichokes prevent brain disorders with vitamin D. It can address early symptoms of common brain illnesses. Alzheimer, depression, anxiety, and macular degeneration can be prevented.
Folate or vitamin D is another nutrient present in artichoke. It improves brain function. Phosphorus and vitamin C in artichoke reduce symptoms of brain illnesses as well.
Artichokes Promote Healthy Liver
What are the other health benefits of artichokes? Artichokes also provide antioxidants for our liver. Antioxidants like cyanine and silymarin are vital to promoting a healthy liver. These two antioxidants support the production of bile.
Bile helps our liver excrete toxins out of our body. Bile production in our body is essential for the proper digestion of fats that our body needs. These fats are fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. They are indigestible without bile. Without these fats, we can experience steatorrhea or the deficiency condition of fat. To prevent this condition, you need to have artichoke nutrients.
Artichoke plays a big part for your liver in producing bile, storing energy, and support digestion of food. Most importantly, it detoxifies harmful toxins. It also promotes gallbladder functions to prevent the formation of stones.
As you have read, artichokes have great importance in our health, especially to our liver. There are over the counter food supplements for our liver. But the best nutrients come in eating artichokes to promote liver functions.
Other Health Benefits of Artichokes
Some health benefits of artichokes target bone health, anti-aging, and muscle regeneration.
Artichokes contain calcium, which we are all familiar with what it does to our body. Calcium promotes bone health. It ensures average bone density with a combination of some minerals like magnesium, copper, potassium, and iron. Healthy bones should have healthy muscles with sufficient supply of protein in our body. Artichoke has a protein that promotes muscle mass for physical strength.
Also, eating artichoke helps you fight the early signs of aging. Artichoke has cynaropicrin that deals with the factors of aging like stress, poor eating lifestyle, and lack of sleep. Cynaropicrin provides enough supply of antioxidant in our body. It will reflect on our skin. However, aging is a natural process that artichoke cannot stop. But the process can be slowed down with artichoke consumption.
Other Uses of Artichokes
Before trying artichokes, you need to consult your doctor beforehand. Some people have an allergic reaction to artichokes. Given this, some test and professional guidance are needed.
Besides the health benefits, we can still have other uses for artichokes. We can extract oil from artichoke cardoon or seeds. Like walnuts, the extraction process is cold-pressed to maintain the fatty acids. Fatty acids like linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic can be used for herbal medicines. It can be essential ingredients in making tinctures and capsules.
Tincture from artichokes is a combination of crushed artichoke and alcohol. You need to dilute the concentrated tincture with water as prescribed consumption.
Artichokes Cautions and Side Effects before Consumption
As discussed above, you need to consult your doctor beforehand to know if you have allergic reactions. You should also watch for gallbladder attack if you have records of high cholesterol. Artichoke is not recommended as pregnancy food. Therefore, it is necessary that you seek professional advice before making a diet meal plan with artichokes.
Artichokes can be included in some recipes. The taste and texture are extraordinary, which can be used for medicinal recipes. Medicinal methods of artichoke can be in the form of herbal tea and infusion.
Artichoke infusion helps our digestion and liver by treating gallstones. The preparation involves brewing of artichoke leaves or the whole globe. The infusion is administered as one of the natural treatment for asthma.
Artichoke tea is one of the healthy herbal teas that you need to try. The effect of artichoke tea is useful when you are experiencing a hangover from the alcohol you intake. It empowers the liver to cleanse your body. It is an alternative food for people with diabetes. With the inulin properties, it helps to normalize the sugar in your blood as well as fats in your body. It promotes healthy digestion to increase your appetite and provide good bacteria at the same time. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, the aroma of artichoke tea can alter your feeling. It also addresses abdominal pains and can be a natural remedy for heartburn.
Our perspective with artichoke: this is one of the best weight loss foods that you should try as it also provides a lot of health benefits as well.
However, artichokes contain an allergen similar to chamomile, dandelion, and Echinacea. It is crucial and essential to note that before consuming artichokes, one should seek professional advice.
Also, you need to know how to choose fresh and quality artichokes in supermarkets. New and quality artichokes should have firm and compact bright leaves. If you hold it, the weight should be almost one kilogram. After buying from the store, proper storage is the best way to keep it fresh if you are planning to eat and cook it later. To keep it clean, slice off a thin strip from the bottom of the stem then splash some water over the artichoke. Store it inside the refrigerator with an airtight plastic bag.
Now you know all the details of artichoke, there is no harm in trying and include it in your diet plan.