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Artichoke Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and Uses

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What is Artichoke?

Artichoke is one of the popular winter months edible flower bud of Mediterranean origin. Known as “Ankinara” in Greek, its use as a vegetable is well known to the ancient Greeks and Romans who advocated it for its medicinal and health benefiting qualities. Globe artichoke grows up to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery-green leaves about 0.5 m long. If left alone, beautiful light pink, or purple flowers develop forming a large head from the edible buds. The bud is composed of compactly arranged triangular scales in a whorl-fashion around a central “choke.”

Health Benefits of Artichoke

Protection of the digestive system: Like many other green vegetables such as parsley, artichoke was used in ancient times to relieve symptoms caused by various digestive disorders. The plant is a natural diuretic and stimulates digestion. Currently, nutritionists recommend artichoke to treat irritable bowel syndrome.

Improving the gallbladder activity: Flesh artichokes contain an antioxidant from polyphenol family called cynarin which strongly stimulates the process of function the gallbladder.
Relieve unpleasant symptoms occurred following alcohol consumption:Artichoke is positive effects on liver,it can quickly treat hangovers.

Reduce cholesterol levels: Artichokes help the body excrete the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and assist in regulating the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). This action has positive consequences on the functionality of the heart, directly influenced by the level of cholesterol in the body.

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Prevention and treatment of cancer: Artichoke extract from the leaves of the artichoke found that the plant inhibits the apoptosis (cell death) and reduces cancer cell proliferation in several forms of the disease, including prostate cancer, leukemia and breast cancer.

Prevention of hypertension: Artichokes contain a significant amount of potassium, a mineral that the body needs to function optimally. The potassium in artichoke reduces the excess sodium in the body, protecting the cardiovascular system.

Protection of the skeletal system: Artichoke is also an excellent source of vitamin K (100 g of artichoke provides 12% of the required daily dose). This vitamin plays a crucial role in bone health, stimulating the formation and development of bone. In addition, an optimum amount of vitamin K in the diet helps stop neural degeneration and is especially beneficial for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Protection of the fetus during pregnancy: Fresh artichoke is a rich source of folic acid (provides approximately 68 units per 100 grams, or 17% of recommended daily dose). Folate (folic acid) is a co-factor of enzymes involved in DNA synthesis. Studies have shown that adequate levels of folic acid during the pre-conception, especially in early pregnancy, help prevent neural tube defects in newborns.

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Improvement of the immune system: Fresh artichoke bulbs are rich sources of vitamin C (up to 20% of the daily recommended dose for every 100 grams consumed). Regular consumption of foods that provide vitamin C helps body develop increased resistance against infectious agents and free radicals that attack healthy cells of the body.

Ensures optimal functionality of metabolism: Rich in B vitamins (such as niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin and pantothenic acid), the artichoke supports the activity of metabolic processes in the body.

Prevention and treatment of anemia: Artichoke is a plant that provides two other important minerals, iron and copper. The latter is necessary for red blood cell production, while iron helps creating red blood cells.

Liver protection: Artichoke is beneficial for the liver. Studies have shown that this green vegetable helps regenerate liver tissue. Moreover, artichoke has been used for a long time in alternative medicine as a remedy for liver disorders.

Treatment of halitosis: In alternative medicine: artichoke is also used for treating halitosis (bad breath).

Uses of Artichoke

Before cooking artichokes, wash and cut the little thorns which are at the end of the leaves. Also cut the excess steam as that may be bitter in taste.

  • Artichokes can be cooked in a pan of water, you may also add herbs and spices for added flavour. Once cooked it can be eaten hot or cold.
  • It can be served with dips and sauces.
  • To eat artichokes, take off individual leaf at a time, dip in your favorite sauce, and scrape off the fleshy base with your teeth. Center of leaf near its attachment to the heart holds more edible flesh.
  • Be sure to provide a side plate to pile discarded leaves, and a soft towel/finger bowl to wash hands for the guests!
  • Artichokes can be enjoyed mixed with vegetables, beans, meat, or stuffed with seafood.
  • Its stem, which is often thrown away, can also be eaten. The stem, tastes like that of hearts.
  • The globes, in general, are cooked by deep-frying, sauteed in oil or barbequed. The heart of the artichoke is the main part that is eaten.
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