Artichokes have a strong reputation for their medicinal properties and highly useful nutritive profile. This is why these have been used for getting several health benefits for centuries now.
By way of introduction, artichokes are not vegetables as they are commonly understood as. Instead, artichokes are essentially a variety of thistle. Most of all, artichokes are known for their role in improving your digestion, liver health as well as heart health. Plus, these have also been applauded for helping lower blood sugar levels.
Artichoke supplements are also increasingly become popular. In that, high concentrations of compounds found in the plant are included as part of the artichoke extract.
Here is an in-depth look at the nutrients present in artichoke and the health benefits that it delivers:
1. Excellent nutritive profile
Artichokes boast a rich content of minerals, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. These are, specifically, rich in vitamins C, K, and folate. A significant amount of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron are also present.
A medium artichoke consists of 7 grams of fiber, which constitutes a whopping 23-28% of the recommended daily intake. Plus, the thistles come with 4 grams of protein with only 60 calories per artichoke that is medium in size.
On top of all of this, artichokes are applauded for their high antioxidants content. It is for this reason that the thistle commonly makes it to the list of high antioxidant foods to eat.
2. May help manage blood pressure
Artichokes may potentially play a significant role in improving your blood pressure levels. The underlying mechanism of how artichokes work to bring down blood pressure is not fully understood as yet. However, studies show that the thistle can be valuable for people with high blood pressure problems.
It is possible that the potassium content of artichokes is helpful in regulating blood pressure. In one study, it was learned that the participants with high blood pressure were able to lower their blood pressure by consuming artichoke extract daily for 12 weeks.
3. May improve digestion
Artichokes boast a high fiber content as well, which is good news for your digestive system. Fiber assists in promoting friendly-gut bacteria, alleviating diarrhea and constipation, and reducing the odds of developing certain bowel cancers as well.
Additionally, artichokes consist of insulin, which is a type of fiber that works as a prebiotic. It also contains cynarin that can yield some positive effects on your digestive health by improving fat digestion, accelerating gut movement, and stimulating bile production.
Research shows that such a profile of artichokes makes it useful for digestive health. For example, in a small study of 12 adults, it was learned that consuming an artichoke extract that contained insulin aided in improving symptoms of indigestion. These symptoms included heartburn, nausea, and bloating.
Moreover, another study of 247 participants showed that having artichoke leaf extract for six weeks daily slashed the symptoms of indigestion. Moreover, it helps reduce uncomfortable feelings of fullness and flatulence.
4. May help with improving liver health
The liver is responsible for several health concerns and maintaining its health is crucial. Luckily, artichokes can possibly help in this domain as well. Artichoke leaf extract can protect from liver damage and encourage the growth of new liver tissue.
Plus, the thistles can also amp up the production of bile, which is useful for eliminating toxins from the liver. In an animal study conducted on rats, it was learned that artichoke extract can help reduce liver damage, improve its function, and boost antioxidant levels as well.
These results were in contrast with the control group of rats that were not given artichoke extract. Beside this animal study, human studies have also proven the positive effects of artichokes on liver health.
For instance, studies have learned that obese adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, consuming artichoke extract daily for two months can help improve liver function by lessening fat deposition and liver inflammation.
5. Can help prevent cancer
As mentioned, artichokes boast a high antioxidant content. A USDA study also learned that out of 1,000 plant foods, artichokes ranked the 7th for their antioxidant content. Antioxidants are the primary line of defense the immune system.
These help to protect against free radicals, which can culminate in multiple chronic health conditions and diseases if left unattended. One of the nutrients present in high numbers in this thistle are polyphenols.
These polyphenols exhibit chemopreventive qualities. This means that they can slow, stop, and also completely reverse the effects of cancer. Additionally, vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant, which is also present in significant amount in artichokes.
It is also proven to discourage conditions such as fibrosis while helping reduce the risk of breast cancer. Finally, research also shows that the extract from artichoke leaves can help prevent cell death and cell proliferation when injected in cancerous masses. This can help reduce the effects of leukemia, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
6. Better bowel movements and easing irritable bowel syndrome
Owing to the rich supply of fiber in artichokes, it is useful for improving bowel movements as well. Fiber adds bulk to the foods that you eat. This is helpful for reducing your bowel movements regularly. Plus, it also helps decrease the symptoms of intestinal cancers, bloating, excess flatulence, cramps, general discomfort of the stomach and constipation.
The dietary fiber present in artichokes is helpful with problems such as diarrhea too. This is because fiber can absorb excess liquid. Moreover, the thistle is helpful irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well.
In one study, it was concluded that 1-2 capsules of artichoke leaf extract consumed daily for two months can help lessen the symptoms of the IBS by 26%. Plus, it helps improve the quality of life by 20%.
Research also notes that consuming artichoke leaf extract daily for six weeks for IBS is as effective as, if not better than, other laxatives and antidiarrheals used as IBS treatment. Researchers understand that some compounds in the thistle have antispasmodic properties.
This means that they can help curtail muscle spasms that are common in IBS, reducing inflammation, and balancing gut bacteria.
7. May bring down sugar levels
Artichokes are also known for their role in lowering the levels of sugar in your blood. It is possible that the work of artichoke extract in slowing the activity of alpha-glucosidase may be helpful with low blood sugar.
Alpha-glucosidase is an enzyme, which works to break down starch into glucose. Once its activity slows, sugar levels don’t go high. However, there is still a lot more research needed to understand how artichoke works to lower blood sugar markers.
8. May help with cholesterol levels
Lastly, artichoke extract can help with lower cholesterol levels as well. A large review showed that daily artichoke leaf extract for 5-13 weeks reached a finale of reduced LDL or bad cholesterol and total cholesterol.
An animal study also showed that the intake of artichoke extract regularly helped lessen LDL or bad cholesterol by 30%. It also reduced triglycerides by 22%. Plus, regular consumption can improve good HDL cholesterol levels too.
This effect of artichoke could possibly be due to two main reasons. Firstly, the thistle consists of luteolin, which is an antioxidant that helps prevent the formation of cholesterol. Secondly, the artichoke leaf extract also promotes the body to process cholesterol levels more efficiently, which can lower the overall levels.