The Health Benefits of Artichokes



The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a perennial thistle originating in Southern Europe around the Mediterranean. It grows to 1.4–2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50–82 cm long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the "choke". These are inedible in older larger flowers

Artichokes, the big green buds used in cooking, are an excellent source of dietary magnesium, fibre, Vitamins A and C, folic acid, chromium, potassium, biotin, manganese, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and a carbohydrate that is in the form of insulin.

As one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables on the planet, artichokes are hugely beneficial to our health. Diabetics who include artichokes in their diet can reap huge rewards from this vegetable because it contains a carbohydrate - in the form of insulin - which is a polysaccharide or starch that is handled by the body differently than other sugars. Thus artichokes are low in calories due to this carbohydrate, plus they are also extremely beneficial to diabetics. Insulin, as we know, improves blood sugar control in diabetes.

Other known health benefits of artichokes include the treatment of many liver diseases via its active ingredients found within the leaves called caffeoylquinic acids, such as cynarin. These compounds are found to have an choleretic effect that promotes the flow of bile and fat to and from the liver and treatment of hepatitis. Artichokes also helps relieve the symptoms of rheumatism, prevent atherosclerosis, alleviate various ailments of the kidneys, and help promote the growth of bifidobacteria within the digestive tract.

Varieties

Traditional cultivars (vegetative propagation)
Green, big: Camus de Bretagne, Castel (France), Green globe (USA).
Green, medium-sized: Blanca de Tudela (Spain), Argentina, Española (Chile), Blanc d'Oran (Algeria), Sakiz, Bayrampasha (Turkey).
Purple, big: Romanesco, C3 (Italy).
Purple, medium-sized: Violet de Provence (France), Brindisino, Catanese,Niscemese (Italy), Violet d'Algerie (Algeria), Baladi (Egypt).
Spined: Spinoso sardo (Italy), Criolla (Peru).

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 220 kJ (53 kcal)
Carbohydrates 10.51 g
Sugars 0.99 g
Dietary fiber 5.4 g
Fat 0.34 g
Protein 2.89 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.05 mg (4%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.089 mg (6%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.111 mg (1%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.240 mg (5%)
Vitamin B6 0.081 mg (6%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 89 μg (22%)
Vitamin C 7.4 mg (12%)
Calcium 21 mg (2%)
Iron 0.61 mg (5%)
Magnesium 42 mg (11%)
Phosphorus 73 mg (10%)
Potassium 276 mg (6%)
Zinc 0.4 mg (4%)
Manganese 0.225 mg
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database