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Artichokes originated from the Mediterranean and have been associated with several potential health benefits to our health. Often considered as vegetables, artichokes are actually a variety of thistle. The part of the artichoke that we eat is the bud of the flower before the plant blooms. If left to fully bloom, the artichoke transforms to a single, purple blossom. However, most artichokes are harvested for food before they get to full bloom. The plant is now available in most parts of the world. The edible globes of various sizes and hues are known for their extraordinary nutritional properties. Here are some of the top health benefits to encourage you to include the tender heart in your culinary repertoire.

Artichokes Are Essential for a Healthy Gut

Artichokes form a rare list of unique foods that contain both pre-and pro-biotic. Prebiotics are plant fibers that probiotics (the healthy bacteria in the gut) feed on. For a healthy gut, it’s essential to have both. Eating artichokes helps to improve your digestive system. In turn, your immunity becomes stronger since much of the immune system emanates from the gut.

Artichokes Help in Liver Detoxification

A 2018 study concluded that artichokes contain a powerful antioxidant flavonoid known as silymarin that protects the liver. Artichoke extract supplementation has been found to increase the antioxidant status in the liver. It also increases other components, including glutathione, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase.

Artichoke is also found to contain cynarin, the nutrition that positively stimulates the production of bile. The liver produces bile, which is responsible for enabling digestion and helping with the absorption of nutrients. If the liver fails to produce enough bile, fatty acids won’t be properly absorbed. And eating a balanced diet won’t benefit your body as it should.

Artichokes Help to Fight Cardiovascular Disease

Regular consumption of artichokes and artichoke extract has been associated with reduced unhealthy cholesterol levels, metabolic syndrome, and high blood pressure. Adding the plant to your diet can also help reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.

Cynarin, which is found in artichokes, is one of the best natural remedies for lowering cholesterol levels back to normal. As you are aware, people with higher cholesterol levels are more at risk for developing heart disease. Artichoke extract and juice have also been found to fight high blood pressure.

Artichokes Are Antioxidant Powerhouse

Artichokes pack an impressive number of antioxidants and phytonutrients, including rutin, gallic acid, cynarin, and quercetin. They also have a high oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC), giving them their free radicals absorption and elimination properties.

People who consume high-antioxidant foods are less at risk of developing cancer since the antioxidants help to fight the free radicals. Nutrition experts say that a cup of artichokes hearts contains a higher amount of antioxidants than blueberries, red wine, and chocolate.

Artichokes Are Fiber-Rich

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one whole cooked artichoke supplies about 7g of fiber. This is nearly a third of the recommended daily amount, which is between 30-38g for men and 21-25g per day for women.

Fiber is highly beneficial for our bodies. Besides supporting healthy weight management and digestion, fiber also helps regulate blood sugar and insulin levels in the body. Not to mention the fiber in artichokes helps to feed your colonic helpers (gut bacteria), which are associated with improved immunity, anti-inflammation, and moods.

Fiber also supports smooth bowel movements, decreasing constipation issues. On the other end, if you suffer from loose stool or diarrhea, fiber absorbs the excess liquid and forms healthy bowel movements.

Artichokes Are Nutrient-Rich

Apart from antioxidants and fiber, artichokes are a rich source of nutrients. One medium-sized, cooked artichoke contains more than 20 percent of the daily recommended value for both folate and vitamin K. On top of that, you get 10 percent of the daily recommended amount of essential minerals like magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, and potassium.

These minerals help to increase bone density and health, reducing the chances of developing conditions like osteoporosis.

Improved Brain Function

Another potential health benefit of artichokes is a boost to your brain functions. These healthy plants contain phosphorous, an essential mineral that is also found in brain cells. Increasing the amount of phosphorous in the brain is said to boost your cognitive abilities, keeping your brain healthy and active.

More importantly, artichokes are a whole food. The journal Nutrition and Diabetes found that people who regularly consume a plant-based diet experienced less body mass index and lower cholesterol levels. Plus, nutrients from whole foods have the most benefits to our health.

All images by Shutterstock

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