Artichoke 101 ~ 5 Fab Facts

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by Nancy Newcomer


1. Eat the Whole Artichoke

You’re probably most familiar with the marinated artichoke hearts that become a favorite party dip. But have you ever enjoyed a whole artichoke, steamed or braised? The way you eat the artichoke makes a big difference in the overall health benefits you get. A whole artichoke, prepared and cooked, contains lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals and makes a nutrient-rich addition to any meal. Eat only the artichoke heart, and you’ll miss out on some of the nutrition in the green leaves. Choose canned and marinated artichoke hearts, and you’ll get extra unwanted calories and sodium from added ingredients.

2. Excellent Source of Fiber

One medium artichoke contains seven to 10 grams of fiber. For most adults, this much fiber provides about 20 percent to 25 percent of daily recommendations. For anyone who already keeps track of fiber intake, it’s not easy to find the fiber powerhouse foods. For reference, the same amount of broccoli or apples has closer to three or four grams of fiber. This much fiber leaves little room for digestible carbohydrates, making artichokes a low glycemic index food, as well. The fiber is balanced out with three to four grams of protein and less than one gram of fat.

3. More Than Fiber

Artichokes aren’t all fiber. One medium artichoke qualifies as a good source (at least 10 percent of the daily value) or excellent source (at least 20 percent of the daily value) of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese. The beauty of nutrient-rich vegetables like the artichoke is that you get the nutrients and fiber without a lot of calories. The nutrients mentioned above are a bargain at fewer than 65 calories.

4. Traditional Health Benefits

Artichokes or extracts from the artichoke have been used as traditional remedies for several health conditions. Historical uses of artichokes have been use as a diuretic, treatment for hyperuricemia (high levels of uric acid in the blood and a cause of gout), to increase bile production, as an appetite stimulant and even to freshen breath. Artichoke extracts are being studied using modern research methods to evaluate benefits to these conditions, as well as others, such as high blood cholesterol. So far, the research is promising, but not conclusive.

5. A Mediterranean Diet Staple

In the 1950s, the Mediterranean diet was studied to help explain the low rates of heart disease in that region compared with other regions of the world. Today, a Mediterranean diet is recommended as a heart-healthy diet and is based on healthy vegetable oils, fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish. Artichokes are widely used in Greece and other regions of the Mediterranean. If you’re trying to recreate the Mediterranean diet in your own household, use artichokes often.

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