The benefits of artichokes in the diet and thier medicinal properties.
Artichokes consumed in the U.S. are generally of the Globe variety. Known botanically as Cynara Cardunculus, artichokes are actually part of the thistle family. Artichokes have been around for thousands of years. Originating in Ethiopia, it’s known that artichokes were one of the first vegetables that were grown by ancient man. Today, nearly all artichokes consumed in the U.S. are grown in the town of Castroville, California. However, the world’s top producer of artichokes is Italy.
Artichokes have always been known to hold medicinal properties, and were used by ancient Greeks as a digestive aid. It’s only been in the last couple of centuries that we have come to realize the artichokes true health benefits when added to the diet.
A Diet Including Artichokes
Artichokes are low in fat (less than 1 gram), and are a source of protein (2 to 3 grams), and carbohydrates (10-11 grams). Artichokes are an outstanding source of fiber as well as the trace elements of chromium and magnesium. Artichokes also contain amounts of folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and potassium.
Artichokes can be steamed, boiled or fried. They can be eaten on their own or they can be sliced or chopped and used as an ingredient or topping on other dishes. The leaves can be used to steep in hot water for a tea. The artichoke has what is described as a pleasantly bitter flavor.
Medicinal Values of Artichokes
The bitter taste of the artichoke comes from the chemical cynarin, which is particularly concentrated in the vegetables leaves. Cynarin, along with another compound found in artichokes called luteolinis, are believed to reduce cholesterol. An extract of the leaves are thought to be beneficial in treating irritable bowel syndrome and digestive problems. Fresh artichokes even have a substance called inulin, which is known to help in stabilizing blood sugar levels.
One of the greatest medicinal benefits of artichokes is their contribution to healthy liver function. The compounds in the artichoke help to remove toxins and assist in liver cell regeneration. Heavy or excessive use of alcohol as well as eating fatty and processed foods can put a strain on the liver, rendering it less efficient. This can result in increased cholesterol levels and weight gain. The artichoke can help to counter these effects to some degree if included as a regular part of your diet.
Artichokes can even be used as a means to cleans and detoxify your liver. To do an artichoke liver cleanse, you will need to be eating artichokes at nearly every evening meal for 6 to 8 weeks. During this time, you should remove all animal fats from your diet. Artichokes should comprise the main dish of most of your meals, but you can add a little chicken or fish here and there if you like. You should also avoid any alcohol during this period as well. At the end of your liver cleanse, you will be rewarded with easier weight loss due to more efficient metabolizing, and of all things, improvement to the luminosity of your skin.
Here is a recipe to try, using artichokes. There are many more recipes to be found online that use the artichoke. Try a few out and rediscover the health benefits of this ancient vegetable.
Artichoke Cream Soup
2 cups minced green onions
1 bag (16oz.) frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and finely chopped
5cups chicken broth
1/4cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pint cream
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add green onions and sauté for 5 minutes. Add chopped artichoke hearts and continue stirring for 3 more minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. After reaching a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and using either a hand mixer or food processor puree the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cream and place back on medium heat until soup is hot but not boiling. Ladle into bowl and garnish with fresh parsley.
About Ron Warner
I have never been satisfied with things as they are. Yes I suffer from the "Grass is Greener Syndrome". I have been a ditch digger and the GM of a mortgage company. I have worked as a fry cook, Branch Manager for a major Stock Brokerage firm, a roofer, a car salesman, an IT Network Admin, a landscaper, a radio DJ and the list goes on. 30 years of exposure to such a variety of professions and vocations has given me a wealth of knowledge and a unique insight of the world around us. My family and I have enjoyed the savings I have experienced by being able to do many things for myself rather than needing to hire someone else to do the job. True, some may refer to me as a job hopper. But how many computer geeks can roof their house? What does a car salesman know about investing? Know any Stock Brokers who can change a water heater? Yeah, I did not think so. Yes, Life has been good so far.