Artichokes are thistle flowers that have been cultivated as food. The edible matter is the bud that is surrounded by the protective leaves (bracts) and forms within the flower heads before the flowers come to bloom. Artichokes are not commonly eaten but contain many health benefits such as detoxification and protection of the liver.
High cholesterol/ arteriosclerosis
Liver functions: Cynarin activates liver cells to increase bile production and kidney cells to improves urine production. The bile secreted after eating artichoke is less dense and more fluid, thus decongesting the liver and aiding in the detoxifying function of the liver.
Gallbladder functions: Cynarin also acts as a cholagogue, a substance that facilitates the emptying of bile from the gallbladder.
Skin disorders: Increased detoxifying functions of the liver help in improving many cases of dermatitis such as eczema and allergic skin reactions.
Good Source of:
Folate, vitamin C, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, iron
Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:
Purchasing: The most common type is the globe artichoke, which is typically sold in grocery stores. Artichokes can be purchased fresh or canned. One medium to large artichoke will yield approximately 2 ounces of edible flesh. Look for artichokes that are heavy for its size and squeaks when squeezed. The globes should be dark green with a tight leaf formation. Leaves that have browning at the tips indicate aging or frost damage. Artichokes peak season is from March to May.
Storing: To store fresh artichokes, sprinkle them with a little water and refrigerate them in an airtight plastic bag. Do not wash before storing. They should last for a week.
Enjoying: Preparing artichokes for the cooking process can seem intimidating, but it is actually fairly simple. Wash artichokes under cold, running water and pull off lower petals. Cut off the bottom stems and about a ½ inch of the pointed top of the artichoke. Leaves and thorns can be trimmed with scissors. Refer to our website for a how-to video on cutting artichoke. Artichokes are best when steamed or boiled. They can also be roasted or eaten raw in salads.
Resources & recipes:
Healthy creamy artichoke and spinach dip: http://plantpoweredkitchen.com/creamy-artichoke-spinach-dip-without-the-junk/
Perfectly steamed and seasoned artichokes: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe/perfect-steamed-artichokes/
Tofu and artichoke lasagna: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/maindishentreerecipes/r/artichokelasagn.htm
Chickpea and artichoke salad: http://dietdessertndogs.com/2010/03/05/warm-chickpea-and-artichoke-salad/