The immature flowers of a thistle plant, the artichoke is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. There are various types of artichokes, including the Green Globe, Desert Globe, Big Heart, and Imperial Star, which range in color from dark purple to pale green. While certainly not the easiest of foods to eat, the pure deliciousness of them has people putting in the time it takes to indulge in the unique nutty flavor and soft texture it provides.
But aside from their yumminess, artichokes are also extremely nutritious, packing in a plethora of nutrients, minerals and phytonutrients like quercetin, rutin, gallic acid, and cynarin that protect against many health risks. So whether you’re looking for a reason to add artichokes to your diet once and for all, or just another reason to keep eating them, we have you covered with some of the best health benefits, delightful recipes to try and some fun tips, too!
5 Health Benefits of Artichokes:
Help Controls Diabetes
Artichokes are chock-full of fiber, which has the ability to keep blood sugar levels stable. This ensures spikes and dips in insulin are avoided, which can cause serious issues for diabetics. The fiber slows down the rate at which glucose is absorbed in the blood.
Improve Skin Health and Appearance
Set aside those expensive beauty products and eat an artichoke! The foods you eat can contribute to, or take away from, beautiful skin. Artichokes offer a rich supply of antioxidants and peptides that improve skin texture and nourish the cells. They work to diminish fine lines, wrinkles and blemishes, while also preventing damage to the skin from free radical formation. Quercetin, for example, has been touted for its ability to provide incredible anti-aging and rejuvenating effects to the skin.
Aid in Weight Loss
Artichokes are great for dieters, as they’re low in fat and high in fiber. And because it’s labor-intensive to consume, you pace yourself while eating it, which allows your stomach time to tell your brain it’s full. This can prevent you from overeating.
Detox the Liver and Digestive System
The powerful antioxidant called flavonoid silymarin in artichokes works to properly protect the health of the liver. And the substance called cynarin in artichokes has been found by research to generate bile produced by the liver, which is responsible for triggering digestion and aiding in the absorption of nutrients. Research has also found artichokes to be beneficial in relieving symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and can help soothe the stomach.
Artichokes high levels of polyphenol-type antioxidants are known to ward off various types of cancers, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia. Research at the Comenius University in Slovakia concluded that specific antioxidants in artichoke leaf extract aided in cancer cell death and slowed cancer cell growth. And another study released by the University of Georg-August found that the phytonutrients in artichokes helped inhibit the release of cancer agent reproduction.
- Healthy Pasta Salad With Artichokes and Lemon Vinaigrette by Food Faith Fitness
Simple, quick and full of delicious ingredients to complement the roasted artichokes like fresh basil, garlic and Parmesan cheese, you can indulge in healthy comfort food with a summery twist with this recipe!
- Basil and Artichoke Dip by The Healthy Maven
One of the reasons people order up the artichoke appetizer at a restaurant is because they get to dip the vegetable in aioli. This recipe combines the best of both worlds by turning the artichoke into a dip itself!
- Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese by Slender Kitchen
Liven up a typical grilled cheese with some healthy vegetable additions like spinach and artichoke. Plus, this grilled cheese is just 300 calories, compared to the typical recipe that comes in at 600!
- Grilled Shrimp, Corn & Romaine Salad with Green Goddess Dressing by Get Healthy U
When you know you need a salad but are craving something with a little more oomph, all you have to do is get creative. Liven up your typical bowl of greens with delicious add-ons shrimp and artichokes.
- Mediterranean Chicken with Potato Noodles by Get Healthy U
This healthy dinner is packed with plenty of protein and a whole lot of delicious flavors. From the fresh basil, feta, fresh tomato, artichoke hearts and moist chicken to the new take on your typical noodles — spiralized potato noodles — you’ll enjoy the simplicity and uniqueness of this dish.
- Mediterranean Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad by Food Faith Fitness
When you’re craving that creaminess to go with your artichoke, try out this recipe, which combines greek yogurt in place of mayo.
- Farro Green Energy Salad by Get Healthy U
This isn’t your typical salad filled with greens. The farro adds a hearty and earthy touch. Tomatoes, sliced almonds, garlic, marinated artichokes, kale, broccoli and Parmesan dish round out this satisfying dish.
What to look for: If the incredible health benefits and delicious recipes won you over, but you’re not sure where to begin with this seemingly complicated vegetable, there are a few things you need to look for. The artichoke should have a healthy green color, the petals should still be closed, and when you press the leaves against themselves, you should hear a squeaking down, which indicates freshness.
To keep it fresh: After you buy your artichoke, you’ll want to prolong freshness by storing it in an airtight plastic container, and cutting off the edge of the stem. To get the best flavor and nutrients out of the vegetable, cook it within a week of buying.
How to prepare and cook artichokes: Rinse under cold water, ensuring you get off the light film. Cut an inch off from the top and trim the stem, pulling the petals slightly apart to season the entire thing. You can steam, boil or bake artichokes. To steam, place in a steaming basket with the stem faced up and the water boiling. Keep them in for about 30 minutes, adding lemon if desired. To boil, submerge in boiling water, keeping the water at a high simmer for about 30 minutes. To bake an artichoke, pull apart the petals, season with olive oil, lemon and spices, then wrap in tinfoil and put on a baking sheet, baking at 425 degrees for about an hour.