Why We Should All Be Eating More Artichokes? – Healthy Positive Mind –
Artichoke is a year round plant with purple flowers. Although artichokes are considered as vegetables, the part that is eaten is essentially unopened bud of a flower. The leaves and roots of Artichoke are used as a cure for some disease, from irritable bowel syndrome to prevent a hangover.
There are more than 50 types of artichokes. As food, Artichoke contains 25 calories and 3 grams of fiber, vitamin C, folates, magnesium, calcium, iron and sodium. Artichoke leaves contain cynarin, an ingredient that helps in lowering cholesterol.
Most people’s favorite part of the artichoke is the heart, but the leaves are actually the source of the majority of its health benefits. In clinical studies, artichoke leaf extract has been proven to have potent disease-fighting and anti-aging properties.
Artichokes are packed with phytonutrients such as quercetin, rutin, gallic acid and cynarin, which all help to protect against many health risks including cancer, heart disease, liver dysfunction, high cholesterol and diabetes.
In 2004, the United States Department of Agriculture conducted a comprehensive study analyzing the antioxidant content of the most commonly consumed foods. Artichokes ranked in the top four vegetables and seventh overall.
Artichokes are probably best known for their cholesterol reducing and liver protecting properties.
The French have known this for years and often take artichoke extract during periods of indulgence, such as at Christmas, as it helps digest fatty foods and ease indigestion.
Artichokes are a Mediterranean delicacy which you’ll also find in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese dishes.
High cholesterol levels increase the risk of coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis. Since the 1970s, scientists have been testing and artichokes cynarin and artichoke leaf extract for their ability to reduce cholesterol levels. Cynarina and artichokes has been conclusively proven to reduce bad cholesterol dramatically.
To further demonstrate the artichoke’s heart-healthy powers, scientists set up a randomized, placebo-controlled study to examine the effect of artichoke leaf extract in patients with high cholesterol. All participants showed positive results.
Over six weeks, participants were split up, with half receiving artichoke extract and the rest a placebo. The patients receiving artichoke were shown to have an 18.5 per cent reduction in cholesterol level.
The high concentration of cynarin and artichokes not only affects cholesterol, but can also improve digestive health. Cynarina is known to stimulate the production of bile, which enables us to digest fats and absorb vitamins from our food, making artichokes an excellent way to start any meal, especially if it is rich and high in fat, the way the French do it often .
Artichoke leaf extract can be very helpful for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and dyspepsia, or upset stomach.
In a study at the University in Reading, England, 208 adults who suffered from IBS and dyspepsia were monitored over a two-month period of treatment with artichoke leaf extract.
Liver Function and Fatty Foods
Bile produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder is what helps us digest fats and remove dangerous toxins. Cynarina and artichokes boosts the production and is very beneficial to the health of your liver.
Artichokes also contain the flavonoid silymarin, which protects the liver. Silymarin reduces the process of lipid peroxidation from occurring in the cell membranes of the tissues of the liver, making the artichoke the ideal vegetable to help your liver function better.
There are many other powerful polyphenol-type antioxidants found in artichokes that researchers believe can contribute to the prevention and management of prostate cancer, breast cancer and leukemia.
Studies have shown that the antioxidants rutin, quercetin and gallic acid found in artichoke leaf extract are able to induce apoptosis (cell death) and reduce the proliferation of cancer cells.
In research at Comenius University in Slovakia, artichoke leaf extract was studied for its ability to inhibit growth of leukemia cells. Over a 24-hour period, leukemia cells were treated with a variety of concentrations of artichoke leaf extract, with results suggesting that it slows down the reproduction of the leukemia cells while inducing apoptosis of these cells as well.
In addition, researchers at the University of Georg-August in Germany have found that the many phytochemicals in artichokes help to block the secretion of cancer agents, thus inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
How to prepare artichokes
Start by removing the tough leaves from close to the base and trim the stem to about 2cm long (or, on good-sized ones, remove the stem completely, so the artichoke will sit flat on its base).
Cook in plenty of lightly salted, boiling water or in a steamer, simmer for 15-30 minutes, depending on size and freshness.
Just-cut artichokes need less cooking to become tender. The best test to check that it is cooked is when a leaf from the middle pulls away easily and the heart is tender when pierced with a knife.
Artichokes can be served hot or cold.
Use a spoon and remove the fuzzy center at the base of the artichoke and discard it. What remains is the heart of the artichoke and it is entirely edible and delicious.
You can also buy these artichoke hearts preserved in tins or glass jars and herb oil.
For the keen gardener, artichokes make a beautiful border which you can eat too!
USE OF CAPSULES AND EXTRACTS OF ARTICHOKE
Artichoke plant is available in capsule and in a form of extract. The capsule strength ranges from 170 to 320 mg and people should follow the recommendations on the package. The average dose is 600 mg for capsules per day and daily doses of artichoke leaf extract is about 500 mg.
Due to lack of information on its safety, artichoke leaf extract should not be administered to children under 12 years, pregnant women and breastfeeding women and to people who have kidney disease, liver disease and persons with obstruction of the roads. Also artichokes in two forms, as an herbal and food should be avoided from people who are allergic to calendula, chrysanthemums and margaritas.
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