An artichoke is a species of thistle that is cultivated for its large, edible flower head.
In their natural form, they are known as cardoon and their scientific name is cynara cardunculus.
The part of the artichoke that can be eaten include the buds that are formed on the flower head before it has a chance to bloom.
The main part of the artichoke and the one that is most popular is the heart which is the base from which this vegetable springs from.
In fact, there is about 6.9% of fiber present in it. This is roughly 100 grams at most.
Artichokes are extremely high in antioxidants compared to any other vegetables.
As anyone will tell you, this property means that consuming it can allow the body to prevent cancerous cells from forming. This also includes heart disease. (1)
The antioxidant property in this vegetable comes from a number of different sources such as polyphenols which are present in high concentrations.
Polyphenols have the ability to either slow down, reverse, or completely stop the onset of cancer.
Besides this, the antioxidant properties of artichokes also come from rutin and quercetin which are known for their anti-cancerous properties.
In other words, eat a lot of artichokes if you do not want to get cancer.
Artichokes are also a rich source of potassium, the main mineral which has a notable positive impact on several organs in the body.
For one thing, it neutralizes excess sodium, a component that can increase blood pressure significantly otherwise. (3) Artichokes act as a vasodilator, which basically means that it dilates the blood vessels to allow blood to pass through smoothly. This is why they are also quite useful for those who take medication for hypertension in order to prevent overdosing on potassium.
When hypertension or high blood pressure is prevented, chances of heart disease developing reduce at the same time.
Artichokes are common ingredients in liver detoxifying herbal supplements and this is attributed to this vegetable’s detoxifying and effects. The property is attributed to the presence of chlorogenic acid and cynarin both of which are known for healing the protecting the liver from harmful agents.
These, along with sylymarin, reduce toxicity levels in this organ and also help the body flush them out of the system. In addition, these compounds also facilitate the growth of new cells and repair damaged liver cells. (5)
One of the best benefits of this vegetable is that it can lower cholesterol significantly, which is one of the main causes of heart disease. Like the leaves, the heart of the vegetable contains cynarin, which is high in components that prevent high cholesterol levels.
The heart is also chock-full of vitamin K and folate which has a number of cardiovascular benefits itself. Vitamin K pushes calcium into the bones, which in turn prevents it from reaching the walls of the blood vessels.
As mentioned before, artichokes are rich in dietary fiber which is one of the main components for improving health and the function of the digestive system. It’s simple to understand really. Fiber adds more bulk to the food that we eat which besides keeping us full for a significant part of the day, also keeps our bowels moving smoothly. It also decreases constipation and also prevents a number of intestinal disorders from cropping up.
Fiber from artichokes can also prevent bloating, cramps, flatulence and relaxes the stomach as well. It can also ease diarrhea by expelling excess liquid from the body and make a healthy bowel movement possible. Artichokes are also known for cleaning up excess cholesterol in the body and flushing the arteries to allow smooth blood flow.
In terms of digestion, artichokes also benefit another organ whose health is mostly ignored, the gallbladder. The vegetable can soothe an inflamed gallbladder and can also open a blocked duct in the organ to allow normal functionality. We can say that in a way this vegetable aids in the secretion of gastric juices which are important for digestion.
Artichokes comprise of two components that are essential for the body’s metabolic process: magnesium and manganese.
Magnesium, for example, plays an important role in synthesizing proteins in the body and it also regulates calcium intake which can make bones stronger. Manganese, on the other hand, enhances the rate at which amino acids, carbohydrates, and cholesterol are metabolized in the body.
Besides these amazing benefits, artichokes can also aid pregnant women in having a healthy delivery and healthy children. The high concentration of folic acid in this vegetable can prevent neural tube defects from occurring in infants. The process requires a fixed amount of folate, which folic acid can make up for if it is part of a pregnancy diet.
Artichokes are usually very safe. Some people (very, very few) may experience allergies or gas.
Summary: Besides being a rich source of fiber that aids digestion, artichokes can strengthen bones, cleanse the liver, increase blood flow, prevent heart disease and prevent birth defects in newborns.