Artichokes are considered to be one of the superfoods of nature primarily because of their nutritional value and health benefits. Although, they look unusual, they have been cultivated for a very long time. The leaves and the bud (which is called the hearth of the artichoke) are both edible. As you eat your way through the outer leaves and get closer to the center, the leaves have more tender “meat” on the bottom. Learn all about Artichokes and their health benefits by reading below.
In case you have never seen an artichoke before or have not eaten it, they might be a little intimidating. In their first appearance, they do not seem to be edible. However, artichokes are considered to be one of the oldest cultivated vegetables. Originating from the mediterranean, they have found their way all across the globe. In the United States they are primarily cultivated in the californian region.
Artichokes are primarily of two types. The first one is large and round and is commonly know as Globe artichokes. The second type is elongated and tapered artichokes. Another type of artichoke is the Jerusalem artichoke (also known as sunchoke), which is actually a variety of sunflower. The most famous and readily available one is the round or the globe artichoke.
Unlike majority of other vegetables, Artichoke is among the most fascinating visually. The plant and the vegetable is not just delicious to eat but is a delight to look at as well. The artichoke plant grows to a width of about six feet and a height of three to four feets. If not harvested from the plant, the bud of the artichoke will finally blossom into a beautiful, blue-violet flower. However the flower is edible.
As artichokes are not like your normal vegetables, cutting and eating them may be overwhelming for any novice person. The website finecooking describes a step by step approach of how to cut and eat them.
Learn more about whole artichoke, artichoke heart and bottom at FineCooking.Com
Artichokes have innumerable amount of health benefits and nutritional value. Apart from lowering your blood pressure, cholesterol etc, they have many more health benefits. Read our Nutrition and Health Benefits tabs, to know in detail.
Read More about Artichokes, their health benefits and how to cut and eat them
Artichokes are surprisingly versatile, so don’t let their prickly and thorny outsides keep you from eating them steamed, stuffed, braised (or even raw).
Storage: Store loose in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. Avoid putting into a plastic bag because this will increase the moisture content and can cause them to rot quickly.
Cleaning & Cutting: Snap off the dark-green outer leaves of the artichoke until only the pale, tender inner leaves remain. Cut off the top 1/4 inch of the artichoke, Trim the stem end and any dark parts around the bottom and Cut, if needed, and drop into acidulated water.
Step by step guide to cutting artichokes at FineCooking.Com
How to Buy: If the leaves are clinging together tightly, the artichoke is ideal. If the leaves are open, the artichoke will lack taste. Any leaves sticking out or unfolding are a sign that the artichoke is past its prime. Check the stem of the artichoke. A dark brown or black stem at the point of the cut is an indicator that the artichoke might be old.
Special Steps: Artichokes are especially prone to oxidation, and that’s why we recommend immediately rubbing their cut surfaces with extra lemon juice before submerging them in acidulated water.
TIP: The flavour of artichokes can be enhanced during cooking by adding a dash of lemon juice or vinegar.
Artichoke is a good source of antioxidants such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, which help the body protect from harmful free-radical agents.
Mineral Content: Artichoke is rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.
Vitamin & Compounds: Fresh artichoke is an excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid, Vitamin K, Vitamin A. It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid. It is an also good source of antioxidants such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid.
Water Content: Artichoke is 85 percent water by weight.
Carbohydrate Content: Artichoke provide only 47 calories per 100 g
The potential health benefits of artichoke hearts range from detoxifying and liver-cleansing effects to cholesterol-lowering properties. These juicy flower buds are also a real superfood when it comes to antioxidant activity. Keep reading to get the full scoop on the potential medicinal properties of this Mediterranean superhero vegetable.
Cardiovascular health: The high quantities of potassium in the vegetable help to maintain normal heart rhythm.
Lower Blood Pressure: Potassium also tones down the effect of sodium on blood pressure. This helps to maintain healthy blood pressure, which promotes good health of the heart.
Cholesterol Health: Certain phytonutrients in the vegetable help to lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Immunity: The artichoke is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. This helps to boost the body’s immunity against diseases. The vegetable has high contents of vitamin C which supports a healthy immune system.
Cancer: These potent nutrients have been found helpful in the maintenance of healthy cells especially in cases of prostrate cancer. This is because they inhibit the proliferation of the cancerous cells. Color pigments in the vegetable reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Digestion: This vegetable is rich in dietary fiber which supports a healthy digestive system. This helps to prevent constipation.
Blood health: Fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels and lessens the risk of heart disease.
Weight control: Dietary fiber is regarded as a vital aid in weight control. This is because it helps one feel full, hence reduces food intake.
Bone and muscle health: Vitamin C assists in the formation of collagen. This protein supports the development of cartilage, bones, muscles and blood vessels. Magnesium helps to build healthy bones. It also supports muscle functions. Potassium supports the central nervous system and muscle functions.
Liver Function: The boost in bile production you gain from eating artichokes can also be attributed to cynarin, which can be very beneficial to the health of your liver.
Birth Defects: Artichokes help pregnant women have healthy, normally-formed children. The high levels of folic acid found in artichokes can prevent neural tube defects from occurring in newborns. The neural tube closure process in vitro requires a certain amount of folate to occur properly, so folic acid is an essential part of a pregnancy diet.
Metabolic Functions: Magnesium and Manganese are both essential parts of the body’s metabolic processes, and they are also found in significant amounts in artichokes. Magnesium is an important part of protein synthesis throughout the body, as well as optimizing the intake of calcium by the body, further strengthening bones.
Brain Function: There are a number of aspects of artichokes that make them beneficial for brain health, including their quality as a vasodilator that allows more oxygen to reach the brain for elevated cognitive function, for phosphorous an essential mineral that is found in artichokes and is also packed into brain cells.
High in Antioxidants: A study done by the USDA found that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable and they ranked seventh in a study of the antioxidant levels of 1,000 different foods. Some of the powerful antioxidants in artichokes are quercertin, rutin, anthocyanins, cynarin, luteolin, and silymarin.
Hangover Treatment: Thanks to their positive effects on the liver, many people swear by artichokes as a hangover treatment.
High in Fiber: One large artichoke contains a quarter of the recommended daily intake of fiber. A medium artichoke has more fiber than a cup of prunes.
Eczema: Artichoke is used to treat eczema and other dermatologic problems
Diabetes Health: Artichoke contains inulin and fructans that has minimal impact in increasing blood sugar level making it beneficial for diabetics
Bile duct obstruction: There is concern that artichoke might worsen bile duct obstruction by increasing bile flow.
Allergy to ragweed and related plants: Artichoke may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to the Asteraceae/Compositae family.
Gallstones: Artichoke might make gallstones worse by increasing bile flow; use artichoke with caution.
Artichokes are not called superfood for no reason, there are many recipes that you can make from them. We present a humble list of some of them.
1) Artichoke Leek Frittata: Here’s a fritta perfect for spring, with fresh chopped leeks and artichoke hearts, Parmesan and cottage cheeses, and seasoned with tarragon. Enjoy!
2) Braised Marinated Artichokes: This dish is inspired by a classic Roman-style braised artichoke. For that dish, more of the outer leaves are trimmed off, and the artichokes are braised until they are completely tender and you can eat the whole thing with a fork and knife.
3) Grilled Artichokes: If you love artichokes, here’s a great way to prepare them on the grill. The trick is to steam them first.
4) Sauteed Baby Artichokes: These sautéed baby artichokes are easy to prepare and combine flavors that work naturally well with artichokes.