Have you ever been turned off by an overcooked vegetable? As a child, my mother boiled artichokes, and I didn't enjoy the leaves. Yet as an adult, I have often read about their many health benefits. I learned that preparing artichokes well is vital to their enjoyment, and realized that I should give this vegetable a second chance.
While doing research, I learned that artichokes contain protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrate. Artichokes are also a good source of fiber and contain inulin, a prebiotic (Salem et al., 2015). This wonderful vegetable also provides two important minerals, magnesium and potassium, both of which help to reduce blood pressure (Nelms & Sucher, 2016). There are also two valuable compounds in the leaves of artichokes called, cynarin and chlorogenic acid (Salem et al., 2015).
A bile boosting compound
Cynarin boosts the amount of bile that is made by the liver (Rangboo, Noroozi, Zavoshy, Rezadoost, & Mohammadpoorasl, 2016). In the body, bile removes bad cholesterol, which is called LDL, and bile works to lower the amount of fat in the body (Salem et al., 2015). According to mayoclinic.org, fat deposits can form in the arteries over time and the buildup can slow or stop blood movement (“Patient care & health information”, 2018). However, cynarin may help to lower bad cholesterol and may assist in the prevention of the clogged arteries.
An anti-inflammatory and antioxidant acid
Chlorogenic acid is an anti-inflammatory compound (Salem et al., 2015; Petropoulos et al, 2017), and can work to control parts of the immune system, like interleukins that are made by white blood cells (Nelms & Sucher, 2016). It is important to control interleukins so that they do not cause an inflammation response in the body (Nelms & Sucher, 2016). Chlorogenic acid is also an antioxidant and can prevent proteins from combining with oxygen, which can save the proteins from becoming damaged (Petropoulos et al, 2017).
How to steam an artichoke
Now that you know a little more about artichokes, you may be wondering how to cook them. According to the Harvard Medical School newsletter “Vegetable of the month: Artichokes” (2018), steaming artichokes is a simple way to prepare them. The steps they provide are to:
How to eat artichoke leaves
Eating a vegetable that is also a flower with thorns might seem intimidating. However, the California Artichoke Advisory Board explains the process on their website, and even provides two videos for your viewing pleasure. According to the California Artichoke Advisory Board (n.d.) website, a leaf may be removed and eaten by placing the bottom of the leaf between the teeth, and clenching down slightly while pulling the leaf away from the mouth until the “pulpy portion” remains in the mouth (Recipes & Such, n.d.). Repeat and throw away leaves until all are eaten (Recipes & Such, n.d.).
Still hungry for more?
If you are intrigued by artichoke hearts, why not take a deeper dive? Before you taste the heart of this vegetable, you will need to reach it first by following these steps (Mahalodotcom, 2011):
Do you have a favorite way of preparing an artichoke? Please share in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This information is not a substitute for individual advice from a health care professional. This blog post is for educational purposes only.
California Artichoke Advisory Board (n.d.). Recipes & Such. Retrieved from
Mahalodotcom (2011, February 25). How to cut an artichoke heart. [Video file].
Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMuBiQj63v4
Mayo Clinic (2018). Patient care & health information: diseases & conditions:
arteriosclerosis / atherosclerosis. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350569
Nelms, M. & Sucher, K. (2016). Nutrition therapy & pathophysiology (4th ed.).
Boston, MA: Cengage Learning
Petropoulos, S.A., Pereira, C., Ntatsi, G., Danalatos, N., Barros, L. & Ferreira, I.C.F.R.
(2017). Nutritional value and chemical composition of Greek artichoke genotypes. Food Chemistry, 267:296-302. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.01.159
Rangboo, V. Noroozi, M., Zavoshy, R., Rezadoost, S.A., & Mohammadpoorasl, A.
(2016). The effect of artichoke leaf extract on alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase in the patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. International Journal of Hepatology, 2016:1-6. doi: 10.1155/2016/4030476.
Salem, M.B., Affes, H., Ksouda, K., Dhouibi, R., Sahnoun, Z., Hammami, S., &
Zeghal, K.M. (2015). Pharmacological studies of artichoke leaf extract and their health benefits. Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, 70(4):441–453. doi: 10.1007/s11130-015-0503-8.
Vegetable of the month: Artichokes. (2018, March). Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard
Medical School. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/vegetable-of-the-month-artichokes
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