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The Health Benefits of Artichokes
The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is one of the oldest known cultivated vegetables, originating from Ethiopia, with Italy currently being the world’s largest producer. It was valued in ancient Greece and Rome as a digestive aid, available only to the wealthy due to its scarcity.
It was the French and Spanish explorers who fist brought artichokes to the shores of the United States, and today virtually all of the globe artichokes grown in the US are produced in Castroville, California.
Nutrients in Artichokes
cooked boiled, salted
|Nutritional value per
100 g (3.5 oz)
|Energy||220 kJ (53 kcal)|
|* Carbohydrates||10.51 g|
|Dietary fiber||5.4 g|
|* Fat||0.34 g|
|* Protein||2.89 g|
|Thiamine (Vit. B1)||0.05 mg|
|Riboflavin (Vit. B2)||0.089 mg|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||0.111 mg|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||0.240 mg|
|* Vitamin B6||0.081 mg|
|* Folate (Vit. B9)||89 ?g|
|* Vitamin C||7.4 mg|
|* Calcium||21 mg|
|* Iron||0.61 mg|
|* Magnesium||42 mg|
A comprehensive breakdown of nutrients can be found in the Nutrition Database where this food can also be added to a meal planner.
The pleasant bitter taste of the artichoke is due mostly to a plant chemical called cynarin, which is found in highest concentration in the leaves of the plant. European scientists first discovered cynarin’s ability to reduce cholesterol in the 1970′s. A compound found in artichoke called luteolinis is also believed to assist with reducing LDL cholesterol.
In a 50-day double-blind study, thirty patients received 500 milligrams of pure cynarin per day and had an average 20 percent reduction in total cholesterol along with an average 15 percent reduction in triglycerides compared to a placebo group.
A 6 week double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial of 143 patients has demonstrated the effectiveness of artichoke leaf extract (ALE) for lowering LDL cholesterol. The decrease of total cholesterol in the group that received the extract was 18.5% compared to 8.6% in for the placebo group. LDL cholesterol decrease in the ALE group was 22.9% and 6.3% for placebo. LDL cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio showed a decrease of 20.2% in the ALE group and 7.2% in the placebo group.
The artichoke plant is a member of the thistle family, and like milk thistle, it benefits the liver, protecting against toxins and infection. A Mediterranean home recipe uses fresh artichoke leaf juice mixed with wine or water as a liver tonic.
Contrary to what some would like to believe, a study demonstrated the ineffectiveness of artichoke extract in the cure of alcohol-induced hangovers.
1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Marakis G, Booth JC. Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improves quality of life in otherwise healthy volunteers suffering from concomitant dyspepsia: a subset analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Aug;10(4):667-9. PMID: 15353023.
5. Holtmann G, Adam B, Haag S, Collet W, Grï¿½newald E, Windeck T. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia: a six-week placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Dec;18(11-12):1099-105. PMID: 14653829.
6. Bundy R, Walker AF, Middleton RW, Wallis C, Simpson HC. Artichoke leaf extract (Cynara scolymus) reduces plasma cholesterol in otherwise healthy hypercholesterolemic adults: a randomized, double blind placebo controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2008 Sep;15(9):668-75. PMID: 18424099.
7. Englisch W, Beckers C, Unkauf M, Ruepp M, Zinserling V. Efficacy of Artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia. Arzneimittelforschung. 2000 Mar;50(3):260-5. PMID: 10758778.
8. Andrew Chevallier. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.