Although not as popular as more well-known vegetables, artichoke is worth learning more about. Artichoke health benefits span a wide range due to its high content of nutritious compounds. A delicious addition to meals, artichoke is also capable of contributing to an increase in overall health. Read on to learn more about why artichoke should be included as a regular part of your diet.
Artichoke Health Benefits
Artichoke health benefits are numerous and impressive. It possesses the ability to fight inflammation, improve gut flora, reduce the risk of heart disease, and boost the immune system.
Artichoke Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Its high concentration of antioxidants offers protection against several health conditions including certain cancers. These antioxidants help fight free radicals and reduce inflammation in the body to increase overall health.
In addition to high antioxidant levels, artichokes are full of beneficial compounds, specifically cynarin, that help calm inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, promote liver health, and boost blood flow. These benefits lead to increased protection against heart disease and other health conditions.
Digestive Health Benefits
Cynarin is also capable of boosting bile production in the digestive tract. This increase in bile helps boost the absorption of vitamins, fatty acids, and nutrients and encourage gut health.
Fiber encourages the digestive system to run smoothly and efficiently and also helps reduce symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and other digestive conditions. Its high fiber content also helps contribute to weight loss and prevent the accumulation of visceral fat. This type of fat is very dangerous, because it surrounds internal organs. Visceral fat is also linked to various health conditions. Fiber also assists the body in detoxing, promoting healthy liver function, and preventing colon cancer and heart disease.
Keeps Sugar Levels in Check and Combats Anemia
The high fiber content also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, an especially important benefit for diabetics. Fiber regulates blood sugar levels by allowing glucose to be absorbing at a slower rate into the bloodstream.
Along with fiber, artichokes also contain a good source of iron. Artichokes make an excellent option for obtaining plant-based iron to help prevent anemia – a condition that occurs when iron levels are low on a consistent basis.
Artichokes also provide good levels of folic acid, an especially important mineral to women of childbearing age. Folic acid helps prevent birth defects, increase fertility, and prevent complications during pregnancy.
Supports Brain Health
Furthermore, artichokes provide a respectable dose of Vitamin K, a vitamin capable of protecting the brain and preventing neural degeneration. This powerful brain protection helps prevent cognitive decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other dementia-related disorders. Adequate intake of Vitamin K also promotes bone health.
Improves Skin Health
In addition to artichoke health benefits, skin’s overall appearance will also benefit from regular consumption of this vegetable. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals help nourish skin from the inside out and fight premature aging by battling oxidation.
Nutritional Value of Artichoke
Artichoke is low in calories and fat, high in fiber, and contains zero saturated fat. Below is a breakdown of artichoke’s nutrition facts and vitamins, listed in order from the highest concentration to the lowest.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
- Folic acid
- Vitamin B6
Surprisingly, artichokes contain more antioxidants per cup than blueberries, cranberries, and red wine. A few of the specific antioxidants found in artichokes include:
- Gallic acid
Although artichoke hearts are the most popular portion to consume, the leaves are full of potent antioxidants and phytonutrients as well. Artichoke supplements, gaining popularity due to their health benefits, are derived primarily from the leaves. These artichoke extracts are used to make supplements. Artichoke supplements have a positive effect on a variety of health issues, including:
- Bladder infection
- Liver issues
- Kidney problems
- High cholesterol
Some people even use artichoke to treat snakebites. Additional uses of artichoke supplements include reducing high blood pressure, lowering the risk of gallstones, managing blood sugar levels, and increasing the flow of urine. Also, cynarin and chlorogenic acid – compounds derived from artichoke – can be used as a natural sweetener.
In the kitchen, artichoke is used in a variety of delicious recipes. This versatile vegetable can be eaten cooked or raw. To enjoy it raw, consider shaving pieces into a salad. Jarred artichoke hearts make a delicious, healthy topping for homemade pizza. Read on to learn two simple recipes using artichoke as the main ingredient.
Cheesy Artichoke Dip
One of the most common artichoke recipes is cheesy artichoke dip. Artichoke dip is a popular appetizer and snack food, often served with crackers, chips, or vegetables. To make an artichoke dip:
- Combine artichoke hearts, mayo, parmesean cheese, desired seasonings, and mozzarella cheese
- Bake at 350 degrees for around 15 minutes until thoroughly heated
Steamed artichokes are easy and quick to make and provide a nutritious, tasty side dish or appetizer for any meal. To prepare:
- First, remove stems and thorny ends from each leaf
- Fill a pot with water up to the bottom of a steamer basket
- Take the artichokes and rest them in the steamer basket
- Bring the water to a boil and cook approximately 20 to 30 minutes until the artichoke is tender and its leaves are easy to remove
- Serve with desired seasonings such as salt, pepper, and butter
These are just a few suggestions for how you can cooke artichokes. However, because these vegetables have a relatively mild flavor, you can add to a wide range of recipes. Artichokes really allow you to get creative.
To sum up, artichoke health benefits make it a nutritious addition to any diet plan. Artichokes are quite easy to cook, and they are delicious even in the most simple of recipes. If you are growing tired of your usual diet, artichokes can help spice things up. Thus, we strongly recommend you give artichokes a try, if you haven’t done so already.
Have you ever tried artichoke? Let us know what you think of it and if you have any favorite recipes we should try.