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3 Reasons To Add Enchanting Artichokes To Your Diet

By April 11, 2018Nutrition Information

3 reasons to Add enchanting artichokes to your diet

Artichokes are an ancient vegetable from the Mediterranean. They have been used by the Romans, Greeks and Egyptians, for thousands of years as a culinary and medicinal food. Artichokes are beneficial to your health

In ancient times artichokes were considered an aphrodisiac.  Read my blog post, Are Artichokes an Aphrodisiac?

The artichoke is the bud of a large thistle in the sunflower family.

What makes artichokes so enchanting is the way they look.  Fresh artichokes have spiky, pointed leaves surrounding a heart. It’s as if the heart is encased in armor.  The hard green and purple leaves unfurl to reveal a pliable, flavorful heart.

The heart is the most delicious part of the artichoke but the leaves are also edible. Both heart and leaves are beneficial to your health due to their high levels of antioxidants, phytonutrients, folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, iron, copper and vitamin B.

1. Boosts Liver Function

One of their most notable benefits is their ability to cleanse the liver and purify the blood.

There are 2 phytonutrients in artichokes that make them highly beneficial to your liver.

Artichokes contain cynarin, which promotes the production of bile. Proper bile flow is essential for detoxification (a major task of the liver).

Bile serves as a carrier for toxins that we breathe in through the air, eat in our food, or drink in our water – it helps to ensure that these toxins are taken to the intestine or kidneys for proper elimination from the body.

The second major phytonutrient in artichokes that is good for your liver is silymarin. This is a powerful nutrient which helps maintain and enhance normal liver function. Silymarin strengthens the wall of the liver’s detox pathways preventing toxins from leaking into the bloodstream.

Silymarin protects the liver by reducing inflammation, enhancing production of glutathione (an major antioxidant), and stimulating the production of new liver cells by accelerating protein and DNA synthesis.

Another one of the major benefits of artichokes to your liver is that they are a natural defense against hepatoxicity [toxicity of the liver]. They help alleviate symptoms of heartburn and “hangovers” from alcohol consumption. Artichokes guard your liver cells from damage caused by outside pollutants, carcinogens and toxins.

2. Helps Balance Cholesterol

One of the interesting ways artichokes help reduce cholesterol is with the bitter compounds cynarin and sesquiterpenen-lactones.  Studies show that these two compounds inhibit cholesterol synthesis and increase bile excretion. Since it improves how your body uses cholesterol the result is lower LDL “bad” cholesterol and higher HDL “good” cholesterol.

3. Improves Digestion

Artichokes help you digest fat better. Since artichokes contain cynarin, the compound that stimulates the production of bile. Bile breaks down fat from your food. If bile production isn’t optimal you can experience constipation and gas when fats aren’t broken down properly.

Artichokes are a great source of dietary fiber. The fiber content of a medium artichoke is more than that of a full cup of prunes. Fiber supports digestive health by keeping you regular and preventing constipation.

Fiber keeps you healthy by preventing toxic compounds in the food from being absorbed.

In addition, dietary fiber decreases bad or “LDL” cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines for removal. An additional benefit of fiber is it makes you feel full longer, supporting your natural weight.

How To Eat Artichokes

You can eat artichokes boiled, steamed, braised, baked and roasted. The hearts are great added to salads. You can buy artichokes hearts in a can. They’re available in most health food stores and supermarkets. Check to make sure there are no preservatives.

An easy way to enjoy artichokes is to steam them whole and serve with a healthy dipping sauce.

Recipe: Steamed Artichokes with A Creamy Vegan Dill Sauce

A simple recipe with a healthy dipping sauce and directions how to eat those amazing leaves and get to the sweet, soft heart.  Click here for the recipe. 

Stuffed Potato Skins with Spinach and Artichokes

This is one of my favorite spring recipes. These stuffed potatoes taste creamy and “cheesy” but are Vegan and Paleo. They warm you up since it’s often cold outside as the weather changes.  They also fill your body with the spring greens and liver supporting vegetables you need this time of year.  Click for the recipe.

Have a happy spring.  I hope this information inspires you to eat artichokes.  Your body will thank you.

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