Properties and Benefits of Artichoke: The artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a vegetable with an abundance of health benefits. Although it has only recently caught the attention of the scientific community, the artichoke is believed to be an incredibly healthy vegetable which can support digestion and reduce cholesterol levels. The bitter taste of artichokes is indicative of cynarine, a potent natural substance which helps improve digestion by supporting gallbladder activity.
Eating them on a regular basis stimulates the release of bile from the gallbladder which, in turn, helps break down fats. In addition to this, the artichoke is an incredibly rich source of fiber. Dietary fiber binds to fats and prevents their absorption at the intestinal level. The less fat our intestines absorb, the lower the cholesterol.
Being a great source of fiber, the artichoke maintains a healthy colon. Because it retains water and thus increases stool size, fiber facilitates easy bowel movements. And the less your colon is exposed to waste, the healthier you will be. Research indicates that an adequate intake of fiber can lower the risks of developing colon cancer.
But please remember that more than 25-30 g of fiber a day may prevent the absorption of important nutrients and thus lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Moderation is the key so make sure you eat just enough fiber to help lower your cholesterol levels, ease and treat constipation and protect your colon. With around 8 g of fiber per 100 g of fresh product, artichokes are a wonderful source of fiber. If eaten every 2-3 days, artichokes can even promote weight loss.
Artichokes contain excellent amounts of vitamin B9 as well, providing approximately 68 mcg/100 g of fresh vegetable product, which represents around 17% of the recommended daily intake of folate. Vitamin B9 or folate plays a crucial part in DNA synthesis. More exactly, vitamin B9 can efficiently prevent neural tube defects in newborns.
For this reason it is extremely important that women increase their vitamin B9 intake before conceiving and during pregnancy. Artichoke, lentils, spinach, cabbage, white, red and black beans are all wonderful, natural sources of vitamin B9 or folate.
The artichoke is an even more surprising vegetable: 100 g of artichoke contains 20% of the RDI of vitamin C. Foods rich in vitamin C stimulate immunity and helps the body develop resistance against a variety of infectious agents naturally. In addition to this, vitamin C boasts incredible antioxidant properties, offering protection against free radical damage.
Also, artichokes are a good source of vitamin K. By meeting your daily needs of vitamin K, you can prevent bone loss, arterial calcification, blood coagulation problems and lower the risks of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Artichoke alongside other green leafy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, turnip green, broccoli, romaine lettuce and parsley are great sources of vitamin K.
In addition to this, the artichoke is rich in antioxidants such as silymarin, caffeic acid and ferulic acid. These antioxidant natural compounds protect against free radical action and prevent DNA damage and oxidation-related diseases such as stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Silymarin, in particular, is great for the liver. Silymarin is used in liver diseases to promote liver cell regeneration, reduce inflammation and stop the proliferation of tumor cells. Artichokes appear to be a good substitute for silymarin supplements.
Even more, artichokes contain good amounts of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and phosphorus, making them a great addition to any diet. Overall, the artichoke boasts wonderful health benefits and, if you are contemplating making some healthy changes to your diet, this is a vegetable to remember.