Artichokes make my Healing Diet for many reasons: their strong tie to preventing serious conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, their nourishing effect on the liver and digestive tract, ability to reduce dangerous body-wide inflammation, and, of course, their great taste and versatility in recipes too. With great taste artichoke has so many benefits for the health. I this article, we are discussing the health benefits of the artichokes.
While artichoke hearts are often the most widely available and consumed part of the artichoke, don’t go discarding the artichoke leafs quite so quickly — the leaves are actually where many of the most powerful nutrients in the artichoke are stored.
In fact, artichoke extract supplements, which have become more popular over recent years due to their various heart health-promoting benefits, are largely derived from antioxidants and phytonutrients found in the leaves of the vegetable.
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one medium artichoke (120g), cooked without salt.1
Artichokes are absolutely packed with a number of vital antioxidants and phytonutrients, such as quercetin, rutin, gallic acid and cynarin. Artichokes make my list for the top 10 antioxidant foods due to their high ORAC score (oxygen radical absorption capacity), which tests the power of a plant to absorb and eliminate free radicals.
Artichokes are ranked No. 15 on my list in terms of having a high ORAC score and therefore a powerful ability to fight oxidative stress in the body.
One of the most crucial benefits of a food containing a high amount of antioxidants is its ability to ward off various types of cancer, since cancer cells can grow partially due to oxidation and “free radical” buildup within the body when the’are left uncontrolled.
Antioxidants are exactly what our bodies require in order to combat free radicals and to slow the onset on diseases that are often seen in aging populations. Antioxidants present in artichokes — specificially rutin, quercetin and gallic acid — have been shown in studies to reduce the growth of cancerous cells and therefore to prevent cancerous tumors from proliferating.
Artichokes have displayed their cancer-fighting food abilities on two cancers in particular, breast cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma. Research published in both the Journal of Cellular Physiology and Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that polyphenolic extracts from the edible parts of artichokes “induce apoptosis and decrease the invasive potential of the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB231.”
Another study conducted by the National Research Centre’s Medicinal Chemistry Department in Dokki Giza, Egypt, looked at the protective effects of fish oil and artichokes on hepatocellular carcinoma in rats. The researchers concluded after dividing the rats into eight groups that “the results pointed that 10% fish oil and 1 g% leaves of artichoke succeeded to protect from hepatocellular carcinoma to a certain degree. In addition, they may be considered as protective foods against angiogenesis.”
Consuming artichokes and artichoke extract has been correlated with reducing unhealthy cholesterol levels, calming inflammation in the body and improving blood flow.
People with higher levels of cholesterol are more at risk for developing heart disease and experiencing cardiac arrest or stroke, but luckily the powerful substance cynarin found in artichokes is one of the best natural remedies for bringing cholesterol back to a healthy level. The lipidic and glycemic-reducing action of artichokes also help them prevent coronary heart disease and metabolic disorders.
Because of their ability to boost the production of digestive bile and to detox the body, artichokes are included on the GAPS diet, which is a diet that was specifically created to nourish the digestive tract and restore proper gut health.
Eating GAPS diet-approved foods like artichokes is correlated with improving gut flora, reducing symptoms related to digestive disease and boosting immunity as well — since much of the immune system is actually held within the gut. Artichokes contain a powerful antioxidant flavonoid silymarin, which is an effective liver protectant.
A specific substance in artichokes called cynarin has been shown to positively stimulate the production of bile, which is produced by the liver and ultimately responsible for enabling digestion and helping with the absorption of nutrients. Without proper bile production, a good diet cannot be used to foster health because many of the essential nutrients and fatty acids are not properly absorbed.
Studies have also shown that artichoke leaf extract can be very helpful in relieving symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the leading digestive disorders in the world. IBS is a condition that often causes painful symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, an upset stomach and more.
It’s believed that the artichoke benefits IBS and other digestive disorders because of its high fiber content, ability to reduce inflammation, and artichoke’s nourishing effect on the gut lining and liver.
Artichokes are very high in fiber, which is crucial for numerous functions in the body. Fiber keeps the digestive system running smoothly and relieves conditions like constipation and diarrhea.
It has the important role of helping the body to detox itself of waste, extra cholesterol, sugar and toxins, plus fiber acts to facilitate liver function and make us feel full after eating.
Studies have shown that consuming plenty of soluble fiber, like the kind found in artichokes, is a great way to keep off dangerous visceral fat — the kind that accumulates around your organs and can lead to various diseases.
A diet high in fiber is correlated with maintaining a healthy weight and also reducing the risk for serious conditions, including colon cancer, heart disease and more.
Fiber is technically the part of any plant-food that cannot be digested, therefore it must make its way through your digestive system and then out of your body. So essentially fiber is the substance that pulls food through your intestines, and without it you may suffer from issues like feeling overly hungry, constipation, energy spikes and dips, mood swings, weight gain, and bloating.
Fiber helps with weight loss because it has the ability to swell and expand in your stomach and intestines, soaking up fluid and giving you the feeling of being full. This makes it harder for you to overeat, plus it also helps to balance cravings due to fiber’s ability to stabilize blood sugar.
The high amount of fiber found in artichokes has the ability to help keep blood sugar levels stable, avoiding spikes and dips in insulin that can lead to serious problems for diabetics. The fiber in artichokes allows glucose to be absorbed in the blood more slowly, and because fiber is a substance that can be digested and does not require insulin, fiber does not count toward the amount of carbohydrates or glucose you consume.
Jerusalem artichoke has even been shown to improve insulin secretion and sensitivity in diabetic rats, which shows promise for diabetic humans as well.
A one-cup serving of artichokes provides about 10 percent of the average person’s daily requirement for the important trace mineral iron. While many people think of animal products, like beef and eggs, as being the only and best sources of iron, artichokes are also a good source, especially for plant-based eaters who need to make sure they consume enough of the vital mineral.
An iron deficiency is most common among women, especially premenopausal women, and also children. Low levels of iron can result in fatigue, a weakened immune system, poor concentration and ability to focus, as well as digestive disorders like leaky gut syndrome and irritable bowel disease.
Even more serious is a condition that occurs when iron levels are low for an ongoing time called anemia. Anemia occurs when the body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, and therefore red blood cells are not able to properly distribute oxygen throughout the body. Consuming iron-rich foods is a great way to prevent anemia and negative symptoms associated with iron deficiency.
The foods that you eat are how your body receive antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which ultimately show up in your appearance because they make up the layers of your skin. Antioxidants, in the form of vitamins and minerals, help prevent your skin from aging, becoming dry, and losing its texture and appearance.
For example, collagen makes up about 70 percent of your skin cells, and the antioxidant vitamin C is one of the biggest contributors to healthy collagen development. Therefore, not eating enough foods that contain vitamins and antioxidants often results in low collagen production and other skin-related conditions that age the skin prematurely.
A strong immune system is also crucial for maintaining healthy skin. Immunity is largely based upon the health of the gut wall and the amount of nutrients coming into your body and properly being absorbed, so your immune system is partially in charge of dictating how well your body is able to protect your skin from infection and unhealthy bacterial buildup.
Artichokes’ positive effects on the digestive tract and liver mean that your immune system is well-equipped to quickly heal your skin once damaged, burned, or when it comes into contact with common toxins and pollutants.
One medium artichoke contains 7 grams of fiber, contributing to nearly one-third of your daily fiber needs. Fiber has many health benefits, including a lowered risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
Artichokes are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that may help to lower blood pressure. A medium artichoke has 343 milligrams of potassium (for reference, a similarly sized banana has 422 milligrams).
The vitamin K in artichokes is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for bone health and blood clotting.
Some preliminary research has shown that artichoke leaf extract may help reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
In addition, the fiber in artichokes can contribute to a lowered risk of diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal diseases such as reflux, ulcer, diverticulitis, and constipation.5 The fiber in artichokes includes prebiotics, which support "good" bacteria and are important for gut health.