Origin and history
Artichokes are a type of thistle that originated in the Mediterranean, particularly in the region around the western and central Mediterranean. The ancient Greeks and Romans were familiar with artichokes and considered them a delicacy. In fact, they believed that artichokes had healing properties and used them to treat various ailments.
The artichoke was introduced to Europe in the 15th century and then brought to the United States by French and Spanish immigrants in the 19th century. Today, California is the main producer of artichokes in the United States, and Italy is the largest producer worldwide.
The artichoke plant is a perennial plant that can grow up to 2 meters tall and has large, pointed leaves that can grow up to approximately 1 meter long. The part of the plant we eat is the flower bud, which is harvested before it blooms. The bud consists of many small, delicate leaves surrounding a central "stinger" of immature flowers. The stinger is inedible and must be removed before consumption.
Artichokes are a nutritious vegetable and a good source of fiber, vitamin C, folic acid and magnesium. They are also low in calories and fat. In addition to their nutritional benefits, artichokes are valued for their unique flavor and texture and are often used in a variety of dishes.
Artichokes are a nutritious vegetable that have been consumed for centuries for their health benefits. Recent studies have highlighted some of the specific ways artichokes may support health, particularly with respect to intestinal and liver function, cholesterol levels, and antioxidant status.
An important benefit of artichokes is their ability to support gut health . Artichokes contain a type of fiber called inulin, which acts as a prebiotic and promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can help improve digestion, reduce inflammation in the gut, and support overall gut health. A 2020 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that artichoke leaf extract may also reduce inflammation in the gut, further supporting artichoke's role in gut health.
In addition to its effect on the intestines, artichoke may also provide benefits for liver function . Artichokes have long been used in traditional medicine to support liver function, and recent studies have found evidence to support this use. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that artichoke extract can improve liver function in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This suggests that artichokes may be a useful dietary supplement for those wanting to support liver health.
Improving cholesterol levels
Artichokes can also help improve cholesterol levels . Several studies have found that artichoke leaf extract can lead to a significant reduction in total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. A 2018 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that eight weeks of supplementation with artichoke leaf extract resulted in a significant reduction in both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. This suggests that artichokes may be a useful dietary supplement for those who want to support their heart health and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Finally, artichokes are rich in antioxidants , which can help protect the body from oxidative stress and inflammation. A 2020 study published in the journal Nutrients found that artichoke leaf extract may improve antioxidant status in people with metabolic syndrome. This suggests that artichokes may be a useful dietary supplement for those looking to reduce inflammation and support overall health.
In summary, artichokes are a nutritious vegetable with a number of potential health benefits. They can support gut and liver health, improve cholesterol levels and provide antioxidants. While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms underlying these effects, as well as the optimal dosage and duration of supplementation, incorporating artichokes into the diet can be an easy and tasty way to support overall health.
- Bae, JY, Kim, SH, Kim, SH, Heo, JD, Lee, SH, & Kim, JH (2020). Artichoke Leaf Extract Improves Inflammatory Intestinal Injury in Lipopolysaccharide-Stimulated Caco-2 Cells and Experimental Colitis Mice. Journal of medicinal foods, 23(5), 471-479.
- Kazemi, S., Yaghoobi, N., Mozaffari-Khosravi, H., & Ghayour-Mobarhan, M. (2018). Effect of artichoke leaf extract on lipid profile and oxidative stress in hyperlipidemic subjects: A randomized controlled trial. Phytotherapy research, 32(2), 344-349.
- Hajiani, E., Bahreini, A., Shirzad, H., Pakdaman, H., Malekzadeh, P., & Rafiei, R. (2019). The Effect of Artichoke Leaf Extract on Alanine Aminotransferase and Aspartate Aminotransferase in Patients with Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis. Journal of medicinal food, 22(2), 201-206.
- Pereira, RM, De Abreu, IC, Guerra, JF, Teixeira, AM, Lima, WG, & Pedrosa, ML (2020). Artichoke Leaf Extract Enhances Antioxidant Status and Improves Mitochondrial Function and Biogenesis in the Liver of Rats with Metabolic Syndrome. Nutrients, 12(5), 1365.
- Mozhgan Moradi, Ghazale Sohrabi, Mojgan Golbidi, Samira Yarmohammadi, Niloofar Hemati, Marilyn S. Campbell, Sajjad Moradi, Mohammad ali Hojjati Kermani, Mohammad Hosein Farzaei, Effects of artichoke on blood pressure: A systematic review and meta-analysis, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Volume 57, 2021, 102668, ISSN 0965-2299, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102668 .
- Panahi Y, Kianpour P, Mohtashami R, et al. Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial. Phytotherapy Research. 2018; 32: 1382–1387. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.6073