Artichoke is a superfood that comes with several significant nutrients and health benefits. Before we talk about the Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits of Artichoke, let’s take a look at its history. The origin of Artichoke links back to the great Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Arabs took it to Europe on their quest to conquer Spain and cultivated it there for several years. Although many people think it’s a vegetable, it’s actually a type of thistle. Its scientific name is Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus, while some people call it by the names of French or Green Artichoke and Green Artichoke.
Today, it’s native to the Mediterranean area, which is precisely why it’s a significant ingredient in the Mediterranean diet. The naturally occurring Artichoke variety known as Cardoon is found in the Mediterranean area. Commercial Artichokes are available in almost all Europe and America as well as some Middle East Countries. However, it’s really hard to find it in Asia.
Structurally Artichoke consists of a heart that is its innermost part. On top of this meaty core, there is a fuzzy center known as choke. Rows of petals then surround the choke. The petals protect the heart and each petal has thorns at its peak. These thorns are not problematic if you handle them with care, and they soften up while cooking.
You can cook Artichoke by removing the base stem by discarding the choke from the center. The baby artichoke is the best edible part that is in the center of the stem. You have to be very careful with the time of cultivating Artichoke as they become really hard and almost inedible once the flower blooms fully. So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the Nutrition values and facts of Artichoke.
Artichoke Nutrition Facts:
Artichoke is rich in antioxidants and many other nutrients, and it also contains many health benefits, which we will discuss later in detail. According to the USDA database, One Hundred Grams of Artichoke contains 47Kcal Energy, 3.27g Protein, 0.15g Fat, 10.51g Carbohydrates, and 5.4g of Fiber. In terms of minerals, it contains 44mg Calcium, 1.28mg Iron, 60mg Magnesium, 90mg Phosphorus, 370mg Potassium, and 94mg Sodium. Furthermore, it provides 11.7mg Vitamin C, 68µg Folate, 0.19mg Vitamin E, 14.8µg Vitamin K. Lastly, it yields 0.036g of Unsaturated Fatty Acids with 0g of Trans Fatty Acid and 0g of Cholesterol.
Artichoke Health Benefits:
This low fat and low carb vegetable contribute to various health benefits that help in regulating body function. Some of its significant health benefits include:
1- Lowers Cholesterol:
There are two types of cholesterol, namely HDL (good cholesterol) and LDL (bad cholesterol). According to research, the leaves of Artichoke leaves have a positive effect on lowering the LDL level. Moreover, its regular consumption boosts the HDL levels.
2- Regulates Blood pressure:
It aids in regulating Blood pressure. Studies have shown that it has a potential effect on regulating blood pressure. However, the researchers have not been able to understand its extent fully. There is an enzyme in Artichoke whose primary role is to widen the blood vessels. In addition to this, it also contains Potassium, which helps with the regulation of blood pressure.
3- Improves Liver Health:
Reports suggest that Artichoke has the potential to protect the liver from any harm. Apart from protection against liver damage, it also promotes new tissue growth. Studies have shown that it increases the production of bile, which removes toxins from the liver. It is rich in Antioxidants, and the primary function of Antioxidants is to remove toxins from the body and protect the liver against any harm.
4- Improves Digestive Health:
Artichoke is a good source of fiber. The leading role of fiber in any diet is to keep the gut healthy and reduce bowel diseases such as constipation and diarrhea. So, overall, fiber improves and maintains a healthy digestive system. As it has a fair amount of fiber, it provides relief from indigestion symptoms such as bloating, heartburn, nausea, and similar problems. Cynarin present in Artichoke has a positive effect on bile production, which accelerates gut movement and also improves the digestion of certain fat molecules.
5- Ease out Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS, is a medical condition that affects the digestive system. Its symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and cramping in the stomach area. Consuming Artichoke Leave Extracts is one of the best remedies for IBS as it reduces muscle spasm by balancing the gut bacteria and reduces inflammation.
6- Lowers Blood Sugar:
Studies have shown that Artichoke contains natural insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels. But that’s not all. It also has an enzyme whose primary role is to slow down the activity of alpha-glucosidase. Alpha-glucosidase breaks down starch into glucose, and this enzyme neutralizes it to keep the blood sugar level low.
7- Anti-cancer Effect:
As we discussed earlier, Artichoke contains many types of Antioxidants. Among these Antioxidants, some certain Antioxidants such as rutin, quercetin, silymarin, and gallic acid have a significant anti-cancerous effect.
With all these nutrients and health benefits, there are also some potential harms associated with Artichoke. However, you don’t have to worry about anything if you are consuming it in an adequate quantity. As we know, excess of everything is bad. So, the following are some possible risks of Artichoke.
- ALLERGIES: Some people may be allergic to Artichoke or its extract. Those people who are allergic to sunflowers, daisies, and products of the same family are more sensitive to Artichoke. So, if you are one of these people, make sure to consult a proper nutritionist before taking it.
- PREGNANT and LACTATING WOMEN: They should avoid its use as its safety information is still unknown.
- GALLSTONES: as they have the ability to promote bile movement so people suffering from gallstones should avoid its use.
Overall, Artichoke is rich in Anti-oxidant, Fiber, and other beneficial nutrients. Mainly, it contributes to digestive problems and Irritable Bowel syndrome. However, there is very little research on Nutrition Value, Health Benefits, and the proper use of Artichoke. On paper, it has all the qualities of a superfood.