Artichokes are food that we love and that we usually consume when it is a season. Although we consider them as a vegetable, the truth is that they are a type of thistle. We include them in our diet because we like their flavor and for the different properties that the artichoke brings to our body.
They are native to the Mediterranean and have been used for centuries for their possible medicinal properties. Some of the benefits it brings to our body are better digestion, better heart health, better liver health, and lower blood sugar levels.
What is artichoke and how to consume it?
The artichoke is a type of edible plant, which is considered as thistle. It is native to the Mediterranean, making it a very important ingredient in cooking when it is in season. We usually find it cultivated throughout Europe, in the countries of the Middle East and in America, which is quite rare in Asian countries.
The edible part of the artichoke is the bud that is inside the flower head before it fully blooms. It is very important to take into account the time when growing it since the buds become hard and almost inedible once the flower has fully bloomed.
Another of the edible parts of the artichoke is the heart, which is the base where the other buds are born. This is considered the most delicious part of the thistle.
There are different ways to consume them. We can steam them, boil them, sauté them or roast them. We can also prepare them stuffed or battered. In addition, we can find them in the form of a food supplement or artichoke tea, with which we can benefit from all the properties of the plant as an infusion.
Artichokes are a versatile food. For different nutritional purposes, we usually consume them mainly for the different benefits they bring to our bodies. Thanks to them our immune system is strengthened, we manage to reduce cholesterol and protect ourselves against diseases such as atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.
They are also known for their detox action, for improving liver health, and for helping with digestive problems such as constipation and indigestion. Below we list the different properties and benefits of artichoke :
1. Large amount of nutrients
This type of thistle is low in fat and is instead rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are especially high in folic acid and vitamins C and K. In addition, they also provide us with important minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
A medium artichoke provides us with fiber between 23% and 28% of the recommended daily intake. In addition, it only has 60 calories and provides 4 grams of protein. As if that were not enough, it is considered one of the vegetables richest in antioxidants.
2. It reduces bad cholesterol and increases good
Artichoke leaf extract can have a positive effect on the regulation of cholesterol levels. Different studies have been carried out that propose that the consumption of artichoke leaves and their incorporation in the diet reduces LDL, the bad cholesterol, and increases HDL, the good cholesterol. Thus, these types of plants help us process cholesterol more efficiently, which leads us to have lower levels in general.
3. Regulate blood pressure
Artichoke helps people suffering from high blood pressure. It has been shown that incorporating it in our diet, the potassium it has helped to neutralize the effects of excess sodium, which causes us to increase blood pressure. In this way, this type of thistle acts as a vasodilator and is especially useful for all those who take hypertension medications to prevent the effects of potassium deficiency.
Since ancient times, artichokes have been used as liver tonics. Currently, it has been shown that two of the antioxidants present in them improve the general health of the liver, since they reduce the presence of toxins, thus facilitating their elimination from the liver and the body. In addition, certain studies ensure that its leaves promote the growth of new tissue and the repair of damaged liver cells.
5. Improves digestive health
Another of the properties that artichokes give us is the improvement of our digestive health. Its great source of fiber helps to keep our digestive system healthy. By promoting friendly intestinal bacteria, reducing the risk of certain intestinal cancers and alleviating constipation and diarrhea.
The fiber present in this type of thistle increases the volume of the food we eat, which helps us to keep our bowel movements regular and reduce the symptoms of constipation. In addition, we also have to take into account that artichokes contain inulin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disease that affects our digestive system. And can cause stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea, bloating, constipation and flatulence.
Consuming artichoke regularly can alleviate symptoms in several ways. Some of the compounds that we can find in it have antispasmodic properties. This means that they can help reduce and stop the common muscle spasms in IBS. As well as balancing intestinal bacteria and reducing inflammation.
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