Artichokes are regal-looking veggies that pop up often in salads and dips. Rich in calcium, iron and vitamins C and A, among other nutrients, artichokes are incredibly healthy superfoods that boast a wide range of benefits for your health, from better digestion to a lower risk of cancer.
While most experts recommend eating fresh produce raw to retain vitamins and minerals as much as possible, you can make an exception with artichokes. For one, raw artichokes aren’t exactly palatable. Artichoke’s tough outer leaves also only have a small portion of edible material. In most cases, recipes would call for inner leaves, which are tender and fleshier. Meanwhile, the heart and the stem can be eaten whole after cooking.
The many health benefits of artichokes
Whether steamed, boiled or roasted, artichokes pack an impressive list of health benefits. These include:
Provides many nutrients – Artichokes are a staple of Mediterranean diets because of their nutrition profile. For one, they are rich in vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. They also provide dietary fiber and contain antioxidants, including luteolin, apigenin and chlorogenic acid.
Combats inflammation – The heads and leaves of artichokes have high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect cells from oxidative stress and inflammation caused by free radicals.
Reduces cholesterol – Artichokes are a heart-healthy food because they help reduce your cholesterol levels. Fiber contributes to this effect, as do some of the antioxidants in artichokes. Anthocyanins, phenols, flavonoids and other antioxidants in artichokes also prevent cholesterol oxidation.
Boosts digestion – In folk medicine, artichoke is used to enhance digestion because of cynaropicrin, a bitter-tasting compound primarily found in artichoke leaves. Plus, artichoke hearts are loaded with fiber, which helps keep food moving along the digestive tract.
Regulate appetite – Natural healers in several European countries, such as Germany and Finland, also make herbal preparations from artichoke leaves to stimulate appetite, especially in children.
Promotes regularity – Inulin, an indigestible carb found in the outer leaves and flower heads of artichokes, serves as food for the good bacteria in the gut, which help regulate bowel movement.
Supports liver health – Two of the most powerful antioxidants in artichokes, cynarin and silymarin, help your liver eliminate dietary and environmental toxins. Many studies have also shown that cynarin helps protect the liver from damage and even helps regenerate liver cells.
May reduce cancer risk – Oxidative stress and inflammation are associated with the development of cancer. Thanks to the beneficial effects of their antioxidants on oxidative stress and inflammation, artichokes help lower cancer risk and reduce the potential for cancer cell growth.
Cream of artichoke soup
While not the most colorful soup, nothing screams “comfort food” like this thick and luxurious artichoke soup. Serve it with croutons for added texture.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup coconut cream
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
Steam the artichokes in 2 cups of water for 45 minutes or until tender. Drain but reserve the liquid. Set aside the steamed artichokes to cool.
Scrape the flesh from each artichoke bottom and add those to a soup pot along with the reserved liquid.
Remove the choke from each artichoke bottom. Dice all the artichoke bottoms and add them to the pot along with the stock, white wine, potato, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaves and marjoram. Simmer for 45 minutes or until thickened.
Pour the pot’s contents into a blender and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the pot and reheat.
Stir in the coconut cream and goat cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with homemade croutons.
Packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, artichokes are amazing superfoods with a wide range of health benefits to their name. To reap those benefits, eat more artichokes as part of a balanced diet.