Dip into fiber. More people should be on familiar terms with this unusual vegetable with the petal-shaped leaves. It contains amazing amounts of fiber, with one medium artichoke weighing in at 5.2 grams. That’s more than you get in a whole bowl of oat-bran cereal, a rich fiber source. And that gives you a good head start on getting the 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day that the National Cancer Institute recommends for optimum health.
Although artichokes don’t have large quantities of nutrients, they have enough vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, and potassium to help combat diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure. And weight watchers should note that a whole medium ‘choke has a mere 53 calories. Also, eating an artichoke properly takes time, which can help overeaters control their appetites.
A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable and they ranked seventh in a study of the antioxidant levels of 1,000 different foods. Some of the powerful antioxidants are quercetin, rutin, anthocyanins, cynarin, luteolin, and silymarin.
Studies done with artichoke leaf extract have found that they induce apoptosis (cell death) and reduce cell proliferation in many different forms of cancer, including prostate cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer. An Italian study found that a diet rich in the flavanoids present in artichokes reduces the risk of cancer. The pulp of artichoke leaves contains a polyphenol antioxidant called cynarin which increases bile flow. Thanks to cynarin and another antioxidant, silymarin, artichokes are very beneficial to the liver. Studies have found they may even regenerate liver tissue. Artichokes have long been used in folk and alternative medicine as a treatment for liver ailments and the scientific studies are now proving them to be correct.
Artichokes also help the digestive system. They are a natural diuretic, they aid digestion, improve gallbladder function and, as mentioned above, they are of great benefit to the liver. Thanks to their positive effects on the liver, many people swear by artichokes as a hangover treatment. Instead of the hair of the dog, try the leaves of an artichoke. Ingredients in artichoke leaves have been shown to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase. They raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
The artichoke has been near and dear to me since I was a little girl and is still probably my favorite in the vegetable kingdom, even more so, now that I know all of the healing benefits. They have such an incredibly unique taste and they simply just make me happy.
How To Cook Artichokes
I personally like to boil my artichokes. Rinse them real good because little critters can be found in them sometimes, if not properly washed. Grab a big pot and put two artichokes in and fill up with water until they slightly start to float. Put the pot onto the stove on high. When the water starts to boil, put a lid on, turn the heat down to medium and wait about 40 minutes and they should be done. I love to just eat them with melted butter which is much more healthy than mayonnaise or a hollandaise sauce. The pure and delicious taste of the artichoke is enough for me. How about you?