When health experts mention superfoods, artichokes often come to mind. The potential health benefits of artichoke and its extract include an abundance of antioxidants and the protection for liver and heart organs.
There are many fruits and vegetables cited as superfoods, and artichokes, although not being naturally vegetables, harbor many health benefits. Studies have shown that they can help control blood sugar levels, which is why artichoke extracts are used to produce blood sugar control supplements. They also have antioxidants that render them useful for good heart and kidney health. Artichoke buds have a great earthy taste and a tender texture and can be used to add taste and flavor to dishes. Peer into this well-researched article to understand these benefits in detail.
i. They have a rich nutritional profile
Health experts and nutritionists explore the nutritional profile of fruits, vegetables, and beverages to gauge how beneficial they are to the body. Looking at the nutritional composition, the thistle vegetable does not disappoint. It is packed with carbs, proteins, fiber, vitamins B (niacin, riboflavin, B6, and thiamine), vitamin C, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. All these nutrients are beneficial to the body for boosting energy production, producing hemoglobin, and offering the body defense against infections. Besides, they are heavily packed with fibers (4 g in a medium-sized 120 g artichoke) which help boost insulin sensitivity and slow down bowel movement to prevent constipation.
ii. They are rich in antioxidants
The other health benefit of the artichoke is the abundance of antioxidants in this thistle, which enhances its ability to fight and neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are harmful compounds that originate from metabolic processes, the environment, and pollution, among other sources. When free radicals accumulate in the body, they result in oxidative stress, a state linked to increased risk of chronic illnesses like heart diseases, cancer, diabetes type 2, and arthritis. Artichokes are rich in antioxidants, including quercetin, rutin, gallic acid, and silymarin, which are linked to most of its health benefits.
iii. Artichokes may have anticancer properties
Cancer is one of the global killer diseases, claiming the lives of millions every year. Studies show that artichoke, because of the antioxidants they are packed with, can help reduce the risk of cancer. For instance, two test-tube and animal studies showed that silymarin antioxidants can prevent the growth and multiplication of cancerous cells. However, no human studies have been conducted on the effect of artichoke on human cells. Therefore, despite the promising results, artichoke should not be used to prevent and treat cancer.
iv. Artichokes may help control blood sugar levels
Another reason health experts appreciate artichoke and artichoke extract is that they can help control blood sugar levels. For instance, in one study conducted by Healthline, diabetic patients took artichoke leaf extracts and kidney beans daily for 60 days. At the end of the study, the researchers concluded that artichokes can help lower fasting blood sugar levels. Another study also found that consuming artichokes before eating led to reduced insulin and blood sugar levels half an hour after eating. Although the mechanism of reducing blood sugar levels is not well-understood, it could be because of the reduction of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that metabolizes glucose. Still, more studies are needed to show the efficacy of artichokes in controlling blood sugar levels and to understand the mechanism behind the observation.
v. They may help lower bad cholesterol levels
Another line of appreciation of artichokes stems from the thistle’s ability to lower bad cholesterol levels. In a study that lasted six weeks, people who took artichoke leaf extract experienced a reduction in total and bad cholesterol by 18% and 22%, respectively. In another study involving animals, artichoke extract led to a decrease in triglycerides by 22%. What’s more, you can boost your good cholesterol levels by regularly taking artichoke leaf extract. Generally, the thistle exerts its effect on cholesterol in two ways; preventing cholesterol formation and encouraging efficient processing of the existing cholesterol. The two methods lead to decreased cholesterol levels.
vi. They may boost gut health
Artichokes are rich in fiber and exert a ranger of health benefits because of these. For instance, this thistle food contains inulin, a fiber with prebiotic properties useful for promoting gut microbiota. With a healthy gut, your risk of contracting common infections is reduced. In addition, inulin also slows down bowel movement and prevents constipation.
vii. They may boost your immune system
Artichokes have several compounds that make them ideal for boosting the immune system. Because of their high vitamin C content, they promote faster healing of wounds, which is only possible because of boosted immunity. Besides, the thistles are packed with inulin fiber, a form of fiber that strengthens the immune system. In addition, the antioxidants, such as silymarin and quercetin are boosters of the immune system.
viii. They are good for heart health
Heart disease is another global health menace, apart from cancer and diabetes type 2. It presents itself in many forms, including heart attack and stroke, and has many risk factors, such as high blood pressure and sugar levels. Thankfully, studies have revealed that artichoke leaf extract can help lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease. They do this by promoting the action of eNOS, the blood vessel widening hormone. In addition, artichoke extract is packed with potassium, a key nutrient needed for vasodilation. The action of artichoke and artichoke extract can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
ix. They are loaded with polyphenols
The human body is a complex system that depends on many factors to function well. Polyphenols are some of the compounds that will boost the immune system and promote the functionality of the human system. For instance, studies have shown that like antioxidants, polyphenols protect the cells by preventing their damage. In addition, these compounds also promote cell turnover and regeneration, two processes that keep the body running.
Artichokes, although labeled as vegetables, are thistles. They are considered superfoods because of their health benefits, which include an abundance of antioxidants and polyphenols, blood sugar and cholesterol levels control, and powerful anti-cancer properties. In addition, the antioxidants and polyphenols in the thistles are useful for heart health, which is why artichoke extract supplements are produced to enhance heart health.