Whoever was the first brave soul to try to eat an artichoke was truly a genius. These vegetables are picked right before they can blossom into a beautiful purple flower, but the nutrients packed inside go above and beyond its aesthetic appeal. Artichoke leaves and hearts pack a healthy dose of protein and fiber as well as a plethora of antioxidants and vitamins. Most notably among these compounds are Cynarin and Silymarin, which promote liver health.
- Cynarin – This phytonutrient promotes liver bile function, which in turn can promote overall liver, and digestive health. Bile production helps the body to break down fatty foods, remove toxins and absorb vitamins. This lowers the triglycerides in the blood and eases digestion. The ability to break down fats lowers cholesterol, making the artichoke a heart healthy food. In addition to these health benefits, this compound tricks the taste buds into making things taste sweet, satiating your sweet tooth!
- Silymarin – This powerful antioxidant stimulates cell regeneration, particularly in the liver, while scavenging for free radicals. Silymarin is a powerful liver protectant, prevents the process of lipid oxidation (from free radicals) in liver tissue. This antioxidant, in combination with Cynarin, help the body obtain optimal liver health. In addition to Silymarin, artichokes contain many other flavonoids and phytonutrients. This great amount of antioxidative compounds promotes overall cell replication and cell health, which contributes to the prevention of many cancers and diseases.
Artichokes are notoriously difficult to cook with and to incorporate into a diet. Marinated artichoke hearts are the easier option and can simply be added to a mediterranean wrap, a pasta salad, or even eaten right out of the jar! Though it’s the artichoke leaves that have a more significant amount of health promoting nutrients. The leaves can be grilled with other vegetables and served as an appetizer. Either way you choose, this superfood’s nutritional profile is well worth an undertaking in the kitchen.