What to do with artichoke

    Artichoke nutrition facts

    Artichoke is one of the popular winter season, edible flower bud of the Mediterranean origin. Its use as a vegetable is well known since ancient times for its medicinal and health benefiting qualities. Botanically, it belongs within the thistle family (Asteraceae), in the genus; Cynara. Scientific name: Cyanara scolymus.
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    Globe artichoke grows up to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery-green leaves about 0.5 m long. Beautiful light pink flowers develop in a large head from the edible buds. The bud is composed of compactly arranged triangular scales in a whorl fashion around a central "choke."
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    Each artichoke globe measures about 6-10 cm in diameter and weighs about 150 g. Fuzzy; immature florets at the centre of the bud constitute its "choke." These are inedible in older, and larger flowers. Edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucre bracts (triangular scales) and the base, known as the "heart."
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    Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus) are blanched leafy vegetables, closely related to artichokes. Unlike in artichokes where the flower buds are eaten, the leafy-stalks are the edible portions in cardoons.
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    Several cultivars of artichoke grown and categorized based upon size, color, and spine.
    • Green color, big size,
    • Green color, medium size,
    • purple color, big size,
    • Purple color, medium size,
    • Spine variety.

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    Health benefits of Artichoke

    • Artichoke is low in calories and fat; 100 g of this flower bud just carries 47 calories. Nonetheless, it is a rich source of dietary fiber and anti-oxidants. It provides 5.4 g per 100 g, about 14% of RDA fiber. Dietary-fiber helps control constipation conditions, decreases bad or "LDL" cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines and?help cut down colon cancer risks by preventing toxic compounds in the food from absorption.

    • Artichoke contains bitter principles, cynarin and sesquiterpene-lactones. Scientific studies show that these compounds not just inhibit cholesterol synthesis but also increase its excretion in the bile, and thus, help overall reduction in the total cholesterol levels in the blood.

    • Fresh artichoke is an excellent source of vitamin, folic acid; provides about 68 μg per 100 g (17% of recommended daily allowance). Folic acid acts as a co-factor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of DNA. Scientific studies have proven that adequate levels of folates in the diet during pre-conception period, and during early pregnancy, help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn baby.

    • Fresh globes also contain moderate amounts of anti-oxidant vitamin; vitamin-C (Provides about 20% of recommended levels per 100 g). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

    • It is one of the very good vegetable sources for vitamin K; provide about 12% of DRI. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

    • It is an also good source of antioxidants such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, which help the body protect from harmful free-radical agents. Total antioxidant strength (ORAC) of artichokes (globe or french) is 6552 μmol TE/100 g.

    • It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.

    • Further, artichoke is rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.

    • Additionally, it contains small amounts of antioxidant flavonoid compounds like carotene-beta, lutein, and zea-xanthin.

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