Artichokes hail from the Mediterranean region and have been used in natural medicine for centuries. This delicious and nutritious vegetable provides a number of health benefits, including improved blood sugar regulation, liver health, heart health, and digestion. You can also get the benefits of artichokes in the form of a supplement. An artichoke extract supplement contains high concentrations of the beneficial compounds found in artichokes. Let’s take a look at the top five health benefits that artichokes offer.
1. Artichokes are filled with beneficial nutrients
Artichokes contain powerful nutrients that help improve your health. This amazing vegetable is low in fat while being a top source of fiber. In fact, each medium sized artichoke contains approximately 7 grams of fiber, which provides you with 23 to 28 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber. It also provides approximately 4 grams of protein.
Everyone knows that fiber is an important part of your diet; however, most do not know how it benefits your health. Dietary fiber is found in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. The body is unable to digest fiber; instead, it passive through the digestive tract and cleanses the intestines.
There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in liquid and turns into a gel while insoluble does not dissolve. Soluble fiber is found in barley, citrus fruits, peas, oats, apples, psyllium, and beans. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat, cauliflower, potatoes, nuts, and beans.
Fiber offers a number of health benefits. It can help normalize bowel movement for improved bowel health. Because high fiber foods are filling, fiber can help you remain satiated for longer periods, which can help you achieve a healthy weight, it can lower your cholesterol, improve heart health, regulate blood sugar levels, reduce the risk of cancer, and help you live a longer and healthier life.
2. Artichokes improve digestive health
Artichokes help improve digestive health by increasing the number of good bacteria in the digestive tract. These delicious vegetables contain a type of fiber called inulin. Inulin acts as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are foods used to feed the healthy bacteria in the lower digestive tract. When artichokes are included in your diet for three weeks, the number of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract increase.
In addition to improving the microbiota in the gut, artichokes can help relieve indigestion symptoms, including heartburn, bloating, and nausea. Artichoke leaf extract supplements when taken daily for six weeks can reduce the feeling overly full, increased gas, and indigestion. Finally, artichokes contain cynarin, which can improve the production of bile. Improved bile production increases gut movement and helps your body digest fats more efficiently.
3. Artichokes provide antioxidant protection
If you are looking for a vegetable that is rich in antioxidants, look no further than the artichoke. Antioxidants help protect cells from dysfunction and premature aging. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and prevent cellular damage. Some of the most potent antioxidants are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, selenium, and zinc.
One artichoke contains 25 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. It also contains approximately 22 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin K, 27 percent of the daily value of folate, 8 percent of the RDA of copper, and 3 percent of the recommended daily value of zinc.
Antioxidants are used to increase immunity, aid in DNA repair, and improve your overall health. Artichokes contain a powerful antioxidant called luteolin which can help prevent the formation of cholesterol, making artichokes heart healthy foods. Artichokes have also been shown to improve liver function and reduce liver damage caused by medications. The two antioxidants responsible for improving liver health are cynarin and silymarin. Finally, artichokes provide anticancer effects thanks to gallic acid, quercetin, rutin, and silymarin found in artichokes.
4. Artichokes may improve blood pressure readings
Artichokes may help regulate blood pressure. Consuming artichokes daily can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings. Although the exact cause of lower blood pressure readings remains unknown, it is believed that artichokes increase the production of eNOS, an enzyme responsible for widening blood vessels.
One artichoke also contains approximately 15 percent of the daily recommended intake of potassium. Potassium decreases the effects of sodium on the body. As you increase your consumption of potassium rich foods, the amount of sodium in urine increases, allowing you to excrete excess sodium from the body. Potassium eases the tension in the blood vessel walls.
5. Artichokes decrease the risk of cancer
Artichokes contain a variety of antioxidants that provide anti-cancer effects. Some of the most helpful antioxidants in artichokes include gallic acid, rutin, silymarin, and quercetin. Silymarin has been shown to prevent and even treat skin cancer in certain studies.
Artichokes contain the highest amount of antioxidants than any other vegetable. The lowly artichoke contains anthocyanins, flavonoids, and polyphenols that sweep damaged cells, toxins, and free radicals from the body. The flavonoids, luteolin, and apigenin are aggressive cancer killing agents that cause malignant cells to die rapidly. Researchers are researching the benefit of pretreating cancer cells with powerful flavonoids before chemotherapy to improve the success rates of cancer therapies.
How to prepare artichokes
If you have never eaten or prepared artichokes, adding them to your diet can seem overwhelming; however, they are quite easy to incorporate into your diet.
Artichokes can be sauteed, roasted, steamed, boiled, grilled, or added to your favorite hot dip recipe. Artichokes can also be breaded or stuffed. You can eat the leaves as well as the heart of an artichoke.
Artichoke extract supplements also provide you with the benefits of artichokes in an easy to swallow formula. There are some things to take into consideration. If you are allergic to sunflowers, marigolds, chrysanthemums, or daisies, you are at a higher risk of having an allergic reaction to artichokes. Also, those suffering from gallstones or those who have a bile duct obstruction should avoid consuming artichokes or taking an artichoke supplement.
The risk of side effects of artichoke supplements is low except for those who have bile duct disorders or those who have allergies. Additionally, women who are breastfeeding or who are pregnant should avoid artichoke supplements, unless directed by a doctor.
Artichokes provide a number of health benefits. These delicious vegetables are filled with nutrients to promote health and decrease the risk of developing an illness or disease. Artichokes can help improve cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure readings, and regulate blood glucose levels. Consuming artichokes regularly can improve liver health, relieve digestive problems, and decrease the risk of cancer.