High in antioxidants
Both types of artichoke are low in fat and calories, so are excellent choices for traditional weight loss diets. Contributing essential minerals andfiber, Jerusalem and Globe Artichokes are a healthy addition to any eating plan. Globe Artichokes are particularly high in antioxidants, in the form of vitamin C and phytonutrients, which are thought to protect cells against the attack of free radicals.
Cynarin and Silyamrin
The two major phytonutrients found in Globe Artichokes are Cynarinand Silymarin. These are of particular interest for their ability to lower cholesterol, protect and support liver function, increase bile production and prevent gallstones. Standardized supplements of Globe Artichoke extract with stated minimum amounts of active ingredients are available in tablets, capsules, gels and liquids. The notable side-effect of everything tasting sweet after eating an artichoke can be attributed to Cynarin. Studies suggest that Silymarin, which is also found in Milk Thistle, may also help control blood sugar in type II diabetics.
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels, particularly of the small particle LDL form of cholesterol, are strongly associated with heart disease. Globe Artichoke consumption has been linked to lowering cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream and increasing the relative level of high density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the "good" cholesterol. The liver makes bile acids from cholesterol and stores them in the gallbladder. By increasing the production of bile acids, Artichoke extract helps the liver reduce the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
The ancient Romans prescribed Globe Artichokes to alleviate hangover symptoms, but a randomized study found Artichoke extract fairly ineffective against alcohol-induced hangovers. However, recent studies have shown thatSilibinin, the active component of Silymarin, protects the liver from the poison found in the death cap mushroom (Amanita phalloides) and from carbon tetrachloride toxicity. Globe Artichokes have a mild diuretic effect that may assist in lowering blood pressure for some people.
Artichoke has been traditionally used to alleviate mild indigestion. Thecynarin contained in an Artichoke increases bile production, which in turn helps the body digest fats more efficiently and receive greater benefit from the fat-soluble vitamins. Bile works by emulsifying the fats consumed, rendering them more easily absorbed and processed by the small intestine. Most gallstones are created when high concentrations of cholesterol in the gallbladder crystallize. Gallbladder or biliary disease is diagnosed when gallstones cause pain by stretching or blocking the bile duct. People who have had gallstone symptoms in the past should be aware that increasing bile production can push existing stones into the bile duct. Studies indicate that Artichoke Leaf extract can reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia, activity that may be related to improved fat digestion.
Jerusalem Artichokes are unusual in that they store energy as the carbohydrate inulin instead of starch. Inulin has limited digestibility for humans and doesn't impact blood glucose so is useful to diabetics and those looking to lose weight. Raw Sunchokes have a crisp texture, a mild slightly sweet flavor, and make a good substitute for chips and crackers. Boiled and mashed, they are similar to potatoes and when steamed they hold their shape and are more carrot-like in texture. Consumers will also find inulin listed as an ingredient on low carbohydrate snack foods like meal-replacement bars.
Soluble fiber like inulin is thought to help to lower cholesterol. Consuming inulin increases the body's absorption ofcalcium and magnesium. It is considered probiotic because it fosters the growth of good bacteria in the gut, but eating too many Jerusalem Artichokes can cause flatulence in people with fructose malabsorption, so a gradual increase in the amount consumed over time is recommended.
Health benefits of Artichoke
Artichoke is low in calories and fat; 100 g of this flower bud just carries 47 calories. Nonetheless, it is a rich source of dietary fiber and anti-oxidants. It provides 5.4 g per 100 g, about 14% of RDA fiber. Dietary-fiber helps control constipation conditions, decreases bad or "LDL" cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines and help cut down colon cancer risks by preventing toxic compounds in the food from absorption.
Artichoke contains bitter principles, cynarin and sesquiterpene-lactones. Scientific studies show that these compounds not just inhibit cholesterol synthesis but also increase its excretion in the bile, and thus, help overall reduction in the total cholesterol levels in the blood.
Fresh artichoke is an excellent source of vitamin, folic acid; provides about 68 µg per 100 g (17% of recommended daily allowance). Folic acid acts as a co-factor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of DNA. Scientific studies have proven that adequate levels of folates in the diet during pre-conception period, and during early pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn baby.
Fresh globes also contain moderate amounts of anti-oxidant vitamin; vitamin-C (Provides about 20% of recommended levels per 100 g). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
It is one of the very good vegetable sources for vitamin K; provide about 12% of DRI. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.
It is an also a good source of antioxidant compounds such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, which help the body protect from harmful free-radical agents. Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of artichokes (globe or french) is 6552 µmol TE/100 g.
It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.
Further, artichoke is rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.