Artichokes are a versatile food, and although some consider them vegetables , they are actually a variety of thistle. For nutritional purposes, they are consumed mainly due to the benefits of the artichoke that helps protect against various forms of cancer, strengthens the immune system, reduces cholesterol and protects against diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, heart attack etc.
Benefits of the artichoke for health
Artichokes have also been famous for detoxify the body, improve the health of the liver and help in digestive problems such as indigestion, constipation and diarrhea. In addition, these small miraculous thistles can reduce blood pressure and eliminate hangovers.
You will be surprised by all the benefits of raw artichoke in your juices or smoothie recipes and even more will surprise the powerful compounds that fight diseases. But first, let's look briefly at the fascinating story of the artichoke.
A little history
It is easy to be intimidated by this member of the thistle family, but almost all the artichokes are edible!
In the history, the artichokes date from the Mediterranean almost 3000 years ago, from where they extended to the north of Italy, Spain and France, and of the south and this to the north of Africa and Arabia. They are native to the Mediterranean region, and that is why they play such an important role in their cuisine. Artichokes can be found throughout Europe, the countries of the Middle East and America, but they are found less frequently in Asian nations.
The artichoke was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks as food and for medicinal purposes, particularly as an aphrodisiac. The ancient Greeks believed that the artichoke was created when Zeus became angry with a beautiful woman who thwarted her attentions and turned her into a thistle.
Benefits of the artichoke for health - What are artichokes?
Artichokes are known in their natural form as thistle, and their scientific name is Cynara cardunculus. The edible part of an artichoke is the yolk inside the head of the flower before it blossoms completely. The time is key to cultivate them, since they become hard and almost inedible once the flower has bloomed completely.
In addition, one of the most important parts is the"heart", which is the base from which the other buds sprout. It is often considered a delicacy or at least the most delicious part of the plant and is usually more expensive.
Benefits of the artichoke for health and nutritional value
Artichokes are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and are a rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamins that include vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B-6, B-12, A, E, D and vitamin K. They also provide minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, sodium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.
Artichokes have the highest antioxidant levels of all vegetables, according to a study conducted by the USDA, and 1,000 plants of different types of food, ranked 7th in antioxidant content. Antioxidants are one of the main means of defense for the immune system against the effects of free radicals, which are natural byproducts of cellular metabolism that can lead to a series of dangerous conditions and diseases in the body.
The antioxidant properties of artichokes come from several sources, one of which are polyphenols, which are found in large quantities in them. Polyphenols have chemopreventive qualities which means they can prevent stopping or completely reversing the effects of cancer in any patient.
Its antioxidant capacity also comes from another source, its high levels of quercetin and rutin, two specific antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the chances of developing cancer.
Vitamin C is also a known antioxidant and is found at significant levels in artichokes. Finally, other studies have shown that artichoke leaf extract can be used to induce cellular apoptosis (cell death) and cell proliferation when injected into cancerous masses, and can reduce the chances and effects of prostate cancer, cancer breast and leukemia.
Improve the health of the heart
In addition to their impressive skills in the fight against cancer, artichokes are also considered a healthy addition to your diet for a variety of reasons one of which is taking care of the heart. It has been found that certain ingredients in their leaves reduce the levels of bad cholesterol and increase the levels of good cholesterol.
Cholesterol is a type of fat that builds up in the arteries of the cardiovascular system, blocks blood flow, increases blood pressure and can cause potentially fatal heart attacks. Any method to reduce bad cholesterol is worth it, so give artichokes the opportunity to improve the health of your heart.
Regulated blood pressure
Artichokes are rich sources of potassium, the essential mineral that has an impact on numerous organ systems throughout the body. Potassium helps neutralize the effects of excess sodium, which is notorious for raising blood pressure. Artichokes, therefore, are particularly useful for those who are already taking medications for hypertension to prevent the effects of potassium deficiency.
Diabetics are also encouraged to eat artichokes to prevent complications associated with blood pressure and that disease. Finally, a reduction in blood pressure can reduce the chances of heart attacks and coronary heart disease.
Improves liver health
Artichokes were used as liver tonics for centuries, but the exact mechanism of their impact was never fully understood until modern science could adequately investigate this versatile plant. It has been shown that two antioxidants found in artichokes, cynarin and silymarin improve the overall health of the liver by reducing the presence of toxins and facilitating their elimination from the liver and the body.
The artichoke a cure for the hangover
Artichokes can reduce levels of toxins in the blood by eliminating them quickly. Therefore, artichokes are a perfect cure for hangovers. Some people choose to chew some artichoke leaves after a night of heavy drinking.
Prevention of birth defects
As if all these other health benefits were not enough, artichokes even help pregnant women have healthy children. The high levels of folic acid found in artichokes can prevent neural tube defects in newborns.