What Are Artichokes?
They’re in dips, salads, and sandwiches, but artichokes do more than just add zing to your recipes.
Artichokes are plants in the daisy family. Used by the ancient Romans to help digestion, artichokes are one of the oldest medicinal plants. Artichoke leaf extract may relieve indigestion, lower cholesterol and promote liver health.
So how else can artichokes keep you healthy?
Benefits of Artichoke
Rich in Antioxidants
Packed with powerful antioxidants, artichokes fight free radicals that lead to signs of aging and disease (x). A diet rich in antioxidants can help reduce your risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer (x).
Lowers Cholesterol Levels
If your cholesterol is high, try adding artichokes to your diet. Studies show they help lower “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels (x).
Artichoke leaf extract helps your body process cholesterol more effectively, and even prevents cholesterol formation (x) (x).One study showed that artichokes could reduce LDL cholesterol levels by up to 22 percent in just six weeks (x). And they don’t just lower bad cholesterol–they may also significantly improve “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels (x).
In other words, artichokes keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease.
Lowers Blood Sugar
Artichoke extract could help regulate your blood sugar levels. Research suggests it lowers high blood sugar 30 minutes after eating a meal. It also lowers fasting blood sugar levels (x) (x).
While scientists aren’t exactly sure why artichoke affects insulin levels, they think it may slow down enzyme activity that produces sugar (x).
Supports Liver Health
Artichokes protect your liver and promote the growth of new liver cells (x). In one study, patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) took artichoke extract regularly over the course of two months. At the end of the study, the artichoke extract significant reduced fatty liver deposits and liver inflammation (x).
Artichokes are excellent sources of fiber. Eating enough fiber prevents constipation, supports digestion and supports the growth of healthy gut bacteria. It may even reduce the risk of intestinal cancers (x) (x).
Research shows that artichoke extract benefits intestinal health. It may relieve indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, including flatulence, cramping, bloating, and nausea (x)(x).
In one study, researchers gave 208 adults with IBS artichoke leaf extract for two months. At the end of the study, participants reported a 26 percent improvement in their IBS symptoms (x).
Did You Know?
- Artichokes are technically thistles–flowers that haven’t bloomed yet.
- Artichokes were once considered an aphrodisiac. In fact, in many European countries, women weren’t allowed to eat them until the end of the 16th century.
- The biggest producers of artichokes are Italy, France and Spain. In the U.S., California is the top producer of artichokes.
Artichoke Side Effects
Artichokes contain inulin, which is a FODMAP (a type of carbohydrate that causes digestive issues in some people). Individuals sensitive to FODMAPs should avoid artichokes.
Don’t eat artichokes or take artichoke supplements if you’re allergic to plants in the daisy family.
Because artichoke extract stimulates bile production, people who have gallstones shouldn’t take it.
Artichoke Extract Supplements
Artichoke extract powder contains a high concentration of antioxidants. As a dietary supplement, take 700 mg (1/3 tsp) daily, or as directed by your physician. You can mix the powder into your smoothie, juice, or the beverage of your choice.
The Bottom Line
Bursting with heart-healthy antioxidants, artichokes also benefit digestion and your liver. From lowering cholesterol to fighting off disease, artichokes promote overall wellness and add a zest of flavor to your plate.