What is an Artichoke?
Ancient Romans and Greeks were the first to use artichoke as food .
But nowadays, it is popularly used in many parts of the world including Europe and the Americas.
This thistle species is much loved for its rich flavor. Artichokes are powerhouse of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and dietary fiber. It has a high medicinal value. Researchers suggest that artichokes may be beneficial for preventing cancer, heart disease; enhance gallbladder, liver, bone and brain health and so on.
This article reviews the research based health benefits of artichokes, its nutritional facts, side effects and precautions.
Here are 13 evidence based health benefits of artichokes.
13 Potential Artichokes Health benefits
1. Artichokes Can Prevent Cancer
Eating foods rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants like artichokes can certainly help reduce cancer risk.
Simply put, it destroys cancer cells, and prevents them from spreading to other parts of the body.
- Cancer is a condition in which cells replicate abnormally and invade healthy tissues.
- This disease, which has more than 100 types, is potentially fatal.
- Reducing cancer risk is possible with antioxidant-rich foods like artichokes.
- Phenolic compounds in artichokes have strong anti-cancer properties that can significantly reduce risk of several forms of cancer.
2. Artichokes Can Improve Heart Health
Mayo Clinic defines heart disease as an umbrella term used for conditions involving the blood vessels, heart rhythm and heart defects.
If only people exercise caution in what they eat and do, the risk for heart disease will surely go down.
One thing that can be done is to eat heart-healthy foods such as artichokes.
In 2008, researchers from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom analyzed the effects of artichokes on cholesterol levels .
High cholesterol levels have been associated with the increased risk of heart disease .
A total of 75 adults were randomized to receive either artichoke extract or a placebo daily for 12 weeks .
Total cholesterol level was reduced by an average of 4.2 percent among artichoke users, and was increased by 1.9 percent among the placebo takers .
It’s safe to conclude that incorporating artichokes in your daily diet can do so much in improving your heart health.
- Eating artichokes can lower levels of cholesterol in the plasma, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease.
3. Artichokes Can Be Used as a Liver Tonic
The liver is not only the body’s largest organ, it is also responsible for many vital processes including digesting food, storing energy, flushing out toxins and more .
Protect your liver from these diseases by eating foods that cleanse this organ and purge out toxins, such as artichokes.
- The liver takes care of many important bodily processes such as detoxification, food digestion and energy storage.
- Diseases like hepatitis, fatty liver disease and cirrhosis can affect liver health and function.
- Artichokes can help protect the liver by cleansing it and getting rid of toxins.
- It can also promote proper flow of bile with its phenolic compounds.
4. Manage Diabetes with the Help of Artichokes
If not managed properly, diabetes can lead to dangerous complications such as kidney damage, heart disease, hearing impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and nerve damage.
If you have been diagnosed wit this condition, it’s a must to monitor blood sugar levels regularly.
Eating foods that can lower blood glucose can also help.
Artichokes reduced not only he fasting and postprandial blood glucose but also the total cholesterol level .
Researchers therefore advise diabetic patients to include this vegetable in their daily diet .
- Diabetes can lead to dangerous complications, and should therefore be managed properly.
- Artichokes are recommended for people suffering from diabetes, as they have hypoglycemic effects that can lower blood sugar levels.
5. Eating Artichokes Can Lower Cholesterol Levels
If you’d like to keep yourself in good health then be sure to monitor your cholesterol levels regularly.
Cholesterol is the waxy substance present in the cells of the body, necessary for making vitamin D, hormones and digestive juices .
To investigate the efficacy and safety of artichokes in lowering cholesterol levels, researchers from Munich, Germany asked 143 patients to take in either 1,800 mg of artichoke extract or a placebo everyday for six weeks .
Artichoke was found superior to the placebo in reducing the total cholesterol level .
The rate of reduction in the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was 22.9 percent for artichoke users and only 6.3 percent for the placebo group .
Also called the “bad cholesterol”, LDL cholesterol can accumulate in the arteries and cause heart problems or stroke.
- Reduce levels of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream by eating artichokes more often.
- Accumulation of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease or stroke.
6. Artichokes Contain Potent Antioxidants
Did you know that free radicals can seriously affect your health?
Some of these health problems include cancer, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease.
A good way to fight cellular damage caused by free radicals is to consume foods that are rich in antioxidants like artichokes.
- Free radicals can cause many serious health problems including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer.
- Fight cellular damage and oxidative stress caused by free radicals with the help of foods rich in antioxidants including artichokes.
7. Resolve Digestive Problems with Artichokes
If you’re always feeling bloated or uneasy after a meal, you might want to try eating artichokes.
Artichokes have been found to have soothing effects on the stomach, and at the same time, are able to aid in digestion .
- Artichokes can prevent indigestion, bloating, nausea and many other digestive complaints.
- These are due to the presence of flavonoids and caffeic acid.
8. Artichokes Can Boost Bone Health
If you don’t take proper care of your bones, they can grow weak and fragile over time.
With this, there’s an increased chance of fractures and other bone diseases like osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a degenerative bone disease that causes bone tissue loss and fragility, increasing the risk of injury and fracture.
Sufficient intake of foods that are rich in vitamin K such as artichokes can prevent this from happening.
According to research, vitamin K not only plays a significant role in blood clotting, it also regulates calcium and activates proteins that are necessary in maintaining bone health .
- Vitamin K in artichokes can help maintain strong and healthy bones by activating proteins and regulating calcium.
9. Artichokes Enhance Brain Function
To keep your brain healthy and functioning optimally, make sure that you’re not deficient in phosphorus.
Scientists have indicated that insufficient intake of this important mineral can lead to cognitive decline .
This is why, it’s important to eat artichokes, which are a good source of phosphorus.
- Deficiency is phosphorus can lead to cognitive decline.
- Eat phosphorus-rich artichokes to improve brain function including memory, learning and logical reasoning.
10. Artichokes May be Good for the Gallbladder
Gallbladder problems can manifest as severe pain in the abdomen, which worsens even more after eating heavy or greasy meals.
The gallbladder, which is the small sac located beneath the liver, stores and releases bile used for digesting food .
You can just imagine how difficult and debilitating a gallbladder problem can be.
It’s important that you take care of your gallbladder to ensure that none of these happen.
Eating artichokes is a good way to keep gallbladder in top health.
What artichoke does is that it ensures that bile is produced sufficiently and transported properly to the gallbladder .
- Problems in the gallbladder, the small sac that can be found behind the liver, cause pain in the abdominal area particularly after eating greasy and heavy meals.
- Artichokes can help by making sure that there’s sufficient bile transported to the gallbladder.
- Contributing to this beneficial effect is the phenolic acid in artichoke known as cynarin.
11. Artichokes Have Anti-Aging Properties
Although there’s no stopping the hands of time, you can certainly look a lot younger when you eat the right kinds of food.
Antioxidant-rich artichokes, for example, have been found to delay aging of the skin.
- Artichokes can be your modern-day fountain of youth, inhibiting the aging of the skin caused by excessive sun exposure.
12. Artichokes Can Fight Viral Infections
Another important benefit of artichoke that many could surely make use of is its ability to fight viral infections.
The active compounds in artichoke work by controlling the growth, formation, and spread of viral cells in the body .
Apart from these two specific viruses, there are many other harmful microorganisms that can be combated with frequent intake of artichokes.
Their antiviral activities can be attributed to the presence of flavonoids, which have also been linked to other pharmacological effects like anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory and so on .
- Viral infections can be combated with frequent intake of artichokes.
- Artichokes’ virucidal activities lie on their ability to suppress the growth and spread of viral cells.
- Artichokes also work as a potent anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory.
13. Artichokes May Cure Hangover
These symptoms can last for 24 hours or more.
For many years, artichoke has been used as a remedy for hangovers, among other ailments .
- Artichokes can help soothe the unpleasant symptoms caused by alcohol hangovers.
- It is a natural diuretic that can help the body expel alcohol more easily.
Key Nutrient Facts of Artichokes
A big artichoke contains no fat and only 25 calories. But it’s loaded with folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants like beta carotene, lutein, ferulic acid, caffeic acid and silymarin.
The list below contains nutritional information based on a 100-gram serving of artichokes.
- Calories 47
- Carbohydrates 51 g
- Protein 27 g
- Fat 15 g
- Cholesterol 0 mg
- Dietary Fiber 4 g
- Folate 68 µg
- Niacin 046 mg
- Pantothenic acid 338 mg
- Vitamin C 7 mg
- Vitamin A 13 IU
- Vitamin E 19 mg
- Vitamin K 8 µg
- Sodium 94 mg
- Potassium 370 mg
- Calcium 44 mg
- Copper 231 mg
- Iron 28 mg
- Magnesium 60 mg
- Phosphorus 90 mg
- Carotene-alpha 8 µg
- Lutein-zeaxanthin 464 µg
Side Effects and Precautions
Consumption of artichokes as food and medicine is safe and there are few cases of reported side effects.
Some people may develop gas, diarrhea, and have an allergic reactions to it.
There are not enough evidence as to how safe artichoke is for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. In this case it’s better to follow precautions and avoid using artichokes.
The health-promoting properties in Artichokes have beneficial effects for the heart, liver, gallbladder, bones and the brain. The thistle can prevent the risk of many diseases such as cancer, viral infections, digestion disorders, high cholesterol, etc.
Artichokes can be eaten raw or steamed. Whether it’s for medicinal purpose or to boost your health, artichokes are definitely worth a try.