Health and medicinal benefits of artichoke is well-popular among ancient times. It belongs to sunflower family. This vegetable resembles a large flower bud. The petals are the edible portions. Artichoke is a main item in the healthy diet. Artichokes are rich in various types of nutrients like minerals, antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.
Artichoke nutrition is considered as the highest source of antioxidants among all fresh vegetables. In earlier period, artichoke is only eaten by men because it is considered as an aphrodisiac. In the 16th century, it is believed that this food item has the ability to enhance sexual power and so artichoke was denied for women. But today artichokes are recognized as a mini package of vitamins and they are used by both men and women. Artichoke is cultivated widely for medicinal reasons.
Artichoke nutrition and health
Artichoke diet is considered as a natural remedy for many disorders like blood disorders, edema, kidney problems and arthritis. It possesses diuretic properties that help to improve the flow of bile to the liver and gall bladder. Artichoke helps to fight against bloating and water retention. The diuretic effect of artichoke is quite helpful to prevent certain kidney problems, liver cirrhosis and hypertension. Bile assists in the digestion of fats. Artichoke contains a compound called cynarin.
Cynarin assists in the production of bile. Bile improves digestion by stimulating intestinal peristalsis. It also aids in the proper fat metabolism and so it artichokes are extremely helpful in weight loss treatment. It is a good remedy for many high cholesterol problems and other potential diseases. Some of important health benefits of artichoke nutrition are
- helps in the digestion process
- helps to reduce the cholesterol level in the body
- prevent heart attacks and other heart diseases
- provides immunity power
- prevents constipation
- detoxify the body
The dietary fiber in artichoke nutrition assists in the proper functioning of the digestive system. Fiber prevents the absorption of toxic compounds from the food and thus helps to prevent colon cancer. Artichoke also helps to stabilize blood sugar level. Artichoke also possesses simulative and restorative effect upon the liver. So it helps to remove toxic substance from our body. It improves the functioning of liver which in turn results in improved health.
How to use artichokes?
Artichokes can be used in soups and salads. For cooking artichoke you can steam, microwave or boil it. Baby artichokes can be cooked faster than older ones. Nutrient content is more in baby artichoke than matured ones. Nutrition value is best when artichokes are fresh. Extremely hard outer leafs mean that the artichoke is over matured. Such artichoke also possesses significant discoloration.
Health benefits of antioxidants
Antioxidants in this vegetable are able to protect the sensitive lining of intestinal tract. Antioxidants also help the liver to regenerate tissue growth. Antioxidants and phytonutrients in this vegetable inhibit the proliferation of cancerous cells. Thus they help to maintain healthy cells in prostate cancer patients.
Main antioxidants present in artichoke are caffeic acid, ferulic acid and silymarin. Antioxidants flavonoid compounds present in artichoke are lutein, zea-xanthin and carotene-beta. Some color pigments are also present in artichoke which minimizes the risks of certain types of cancer.
Maintenance of optimum cholesterol level
Artichoke rich diet is quite suitable for those who are trying to limit their fat intake or focusing on weight loss. This is a low fat food and fat content in it is less than 1 gm. It contains only a low amount of sodium and cholesterol. Cholesterol deposits in the blood vessels, tendons, skin and arteries are extremely dangerous.
High cholesterol level has a direct relation with obesity. If cholesterol forms inside the arteries, then proper blood circulation is prevented and this in turn leads to serious impacts. Some phytonutrients in artichoke helps to reduce the bad cholesterol level in the body. Thus it offers protection against arteriosclerosis.
Vitamins in artichoke
Main vitamins present in artichoke nutrition are vitamin C, vitamin K and folate. Vitamin C offers immunity power to the body. Vitamin C helps our body to generate immunity against pro-inflammatory free radicals and infectious agents. It also assists in wound healing and iron absorption. Formation of collagen is often assisted by vitamin C. Collagen is essential for bone and muscle development. Vitamin K has a crucial role in the bone formation (osteotrophic) activity.
Vitamin K rich diet is quite beneficial for people suffering from Alzheimer’s diseases because it limits neuronal damage in the brain. Folate assists in the production of red blood cells and genetic material.
Folate is able to prevent some birth diseases, neural tube defects and reduces the risk of premature delivery. So, gynecologists often advise pregnant women to include artichoke in their diet. Folate also assists in the proper cardiovascular functioning. Main B-complex vitamins found in artichoke are niacin, pantothenic acid, thiamine and pyridoxine. These B-complex vitamins are vital for proper cellular metabolic functions.
Minerals in artichoke
Main minerals found in artichoke nutrition are copper, phosphorous, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium and potassium. Manganese acts as a co-factor for an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Copper and iron are essential for RBC formation. Magnesium assists in energy production. Phosphorous is a significant component in the cell membrane.
Phosphorous aids in energy production and storage. Artichoke nutrition also contains high amount of potassium. Potassium possesses many health benefits. It helps to reduce the effect of sodium in the blood pressure. It also assists to maintain a normal heart rhythm. The functioning of muscles and central nervous system is also assisted by potassium.