Artichokes are a regal looking vegetable that can be intimidating to the unacquainted. But don’t let the sharp thorns or the geometric exterior scare you off. With a little know-how and the right dipping sauce, artichoke becomes a delicious and out-of-this-world healthy snack.
The Top Ten Health Benefits of Artichokes
- Rich in Antioxidants: Artichokes are filled with phytonutrients with antioxidant benefits that help with everything from staving off cancer to bolstering your immune system. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition ranked artichokes as even higher than dark chocolate, blueberries, and red wine as having the most antioxidants per serving, and they’re number 7 of 20 on the USDA’s top 20 antioxidant-rich foods list.
- High in Fiber: Oats, step aside. Prunes? Yeah right. Artichoke wears the crown for highest natural fiber content of any vegetable and over most grains. Many people are absolutely shocked to learn that a mere 120 grams of artichoke has over 10 grams of fiber, or nearly half of your daily requirement. Hail to the fiber king!
- Lowers Cholesterol: Artichokes have demonstrated time and time again that they are effective at lowering cholesterol. In two placebo controlled tests, the antioxidants in Artichoke leaf extract lowered patient cholesterol levels 4.2% and 18.5%.
- Liver Function: Your liver produces bile to eliminate dangerous toxins and digestive fats. Artichokes help immensely with this process, demonstrably boosting bile as a result of the phytonutrient cynarin, which is found in artichokes. Artichokes are also filled with the flavonoid silymarin which hinders the process of lipid per oxidation from occurring in the cell membranes of liver tissues.
- Improved Digestion: The cynarin and fiber in artichokes make them a great tool in maintaining a healthy digestive system. The bile-producing cynarin alleviates bloating and other digestive pain. Fiber helps break down food and keep the digestive system moving. Inulin, one of the major sources of fiber in artichokes, is a prebiotic. Prebiotic increases the amount of probiotic bacteria in your stomach.
- Lowers Blood Pressure: Sodium raises blood pressure. Potassium replaces electrolytes and offsets the negative effects of sodium. Artichokes are high in potassium. Thus, artichokes lower blood pressure!
- Builds Strong Bones: Artichokes are rich in vitamin K, containing 12% of your DRI, and play a crucial role in ongoing bone health. They also have vitamin C, which is involved in the formation of collagen. Collagen is, among other things, essential for bone health.
- Low Calorie: Artichoke makes a great snack because it is very low in calories and fat, yet is high in fiber which makes you feel full. In addition, the time-consuming process of eating each individual artichoke leaf will psychologically make you feel like you had a large snack.
- Boosts Immunity Artichokes are high in vitamin C which is essential to maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Folate Health Fresh artichokes contain plenty of folic acid, which is involved with enzymes in the synthesis of DNA. Eating artichoke and getting your recommended amount of folic acid can alter your genes.