What is Artichoke? Artichoke (Latin name: Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is a diversity of species of thistle, cultivated as a food. It has lobed, silvery, glaucous-green leaves and flowers which grow into a massive head (8-15 cm) from an edible bud. Basically, the eatable parts of artichoke are its flower buds (before they bloom). The bud head is an assemblage of multitudinous budding small flowers together with many bracts on an edible base called the “heart”. The immature florets in the center of the bud are called the “choke”. The naturally occurring form of artichoke (the cardoon) was used as a food by the ancient Romans and Greeks. Different species of artichoke were cultivated in Sicily since the classical period of the ancient Greeks. In the 9th century, globe artichokes have also been cultivated in Naples. In England, the vegetable was introduced by the Dutch in 1530, while the USA began to cultivate it in the 19th century when it was brought to the state of California by Spanish immigrants and to the state of Louisiana by French immigrants.
This is how raw artichokes look like
Picture credit: drprem.com
If you want to have this vegetable as a tasty delicacy every now and then, we would recommend these jarred organic artichoke hearts by Monjardin. They’re carefully selected and hand-picked, prepared using traditional Spanish methods, packed in water and salt. On their own, they are splendiferous topped with a dollop of alioli or garlic mayonnaise. You can also toss them in pasta dishes, use them as a pizza topping, or as a wonderful ingredient in green salads or in paella. These are just some of the tips regarding the culinary use of artichoke hearts!
Nutritional facts about artichoke
Being a vegetable, the artichoke is fat-free, cholesterol-free, calorie-low and sugar-low, because 120g of vegetable contains barely 1g sugar and 64 calories. Artichokes are a rich fiber source, as the same serving has 10g of dietary fiber!
Artichokes are abundant in numerous minerals (including trace minerals) and vitamins that are substantial for our bodies, so they can function properly and stay away from diseases. 120g artichoke contains: 15.6 IU vitamin A, 8.9mg Vitamin C, 0.2mg Vitamin E, 17.8mcg Vitamin K, 0.1mg Thiamin, 0.1mg Riboflavin, 1.3mg Niacin, 0.1mg Vitamin B6, 107mcg Folate, 0.3mg Pantothenic acid and 41.3mg Choline. The same serving of artichokes also has: 25.2mg Calcium, 0.7mg Iron, 50.4mg Magnesium, 87.6mg Phosphorus, 343mg Potassium, 0.5mg Zinc, 0.2mg Copper, 0.3mg Manganese and 0.2mcg Selenium.
The nutritious vegetable also contains small amounts of Omega-3 (45.6mg) and Omega-6 fatty acids (126mg), as well as particular antioxidants like caffeic acid, ferulic acid and silymarin. These naturally occuring matters increase the body’s resistance to harmful free radicals that cause serious conditions such as cancer. Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of artichokes is 6552 µmol TE/100g. Other antioxidants found present in artichoke are lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.
Health benefits of artichoke
Artichokes can be part of an indigestion treatment. Pain and discomfort associated with acid reflux or indigestion can be relieved thanks to artichoke leaves according to a report from the December 2003 issue of “Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics”. Moreover, Germany’s Commission E authorized artichoke for the treatment of dyspepsia which includes bloating, nausea, stomach discomfort, lack of appetite, constipation or mild diarrhea.
Artichokes are a great source of dietary fiber, as an average artichoke provides nearly 41% of the recommended daily value. The insoluble fiber in this vegetable is called inulin and also aids the intestinal health, because it incites the growth of good bacteria in the colon. Inulin has the capacity to assist in balancing the blood sugar levels and lowering the cholesterol.
Each 100g artichoke delivers 17% of the recommended daily intake for folic acid (vitamin B9). This B vitamin acts as a co-factor for enzymes responsible for DNA synthesis. What’s more, a folates-rich diet in the coarse of a pre-conception period or early pregnancy, helps prevent neural tube demerits in the newborn baby.
If you’re searching for vitamin K rich foods, artichoke should be one of your top choices, because it provides 12% of the optimum vitamin K daily allowance. Vitamin K has shown promising potential regarding bone health, by stimulating bone formation (osteotrophic) processes. Sufficient levels of this compound may limit neuronal damage in the brain, therefore today it plays a role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Because artichoke has B group vitamins found present in it, it can be a great addition to a vitamin B complex rich diet. These important nutrients help transform the consumed food into energy, sustain a healthy nervous system, digestive system, memory and concentration. B vitamins are also known to favor healthy skin, nails, hair, mental wellness and DNA synthesis. They are thought to be helpful in dealing with cardiovascular problems, pernicious anemia and premenstrual syndrome.
We already referred to the fact artichokes are mineral-rich and that minerals are essential to our well-being. For instance, potassium is a significant element of cell and body fluids that counters the effects of sodium, thus helping to control blood pressure and the heart rate. Copper is necessary for the production of red blood cells, while iron is needed for the formation of red blood cells.
Learn how to cook and eat artichoke with Brandi Milloy
Warning: according to the Langone Medical Center, individuals with gallbladder should avoid artichoke leaves, until they consult with their health care provider, because the leaves might stimulate gallbladder contraction. To boot, artichoke supplements shouldn’t be used by people with liver or kidney disease, small children, nursing or pregnant women.