If you’re wondering these olive-green coniferous cones are edible or not? Well, we call them artichokes and you can very well include them in your diet like a vegetable. The unique veggie is basically a thistle and the artichoke is the immature flower bud of a thistle. It was grown originally in the Mediterranean and is high in value due to the innumerable benefits it offers. In this blog, we will tell you everything about them. The nutritive value, health benefits, how you need to buy them, and most importantly, how to cook artichokes.
Nutritive value in artichokes
Artichokes contain an alleged array of health benefits. They control blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and maintains heart and liver health. Artichokes extracts supplements are popular for the high concentration of compounds it contains.
USDA confirms, artichokes to be low in cholesterol and saturated fat. They also have high mineral, vitamin and fiber contents in them. Artichokes contain vitamins like C, A, D, K, E, B6, B12, folate, riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin. It includes phosphorus, zinc, manganese, iron, sodium, and calcium.
Health Benefits of artichokes
You are already well-versed with the high nutritional value artichokes possess. But now let us go through the health benefits they give us, and why you should include them in your diet.
Artichokes contain a high level of antioxidants that it stands out amongst several other vegetables. USDA study states that artichokes stand 7th to contain the highest antioxidant level in comparison to 1000 different plants.
Lipids in Health and Disease journal published about a study done in 2018 that, extracts from Jerusalem artichokes help to impede deadly cell proliferation. As a result, this plant is high in polyphenols and combats cancer cells.
Artichoke extracts work well in preventing cancer and is also a healing remedy for people suffering from the ailment. However, some studies also show artichoke plants may treat mesothelioma as well.
Improves Heart health
Artichokes help in controlling bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol levels. Moreover, it also increases omega-3 fatty acids in your body. You will find a number of recipes showing you how to cook artichokes, for people suffering from heart diseases.
If the level of bad cholesterol increases in your body, they build a layer of fat in the arteries which blocks blood flow. So, it’s extremely important to control the bad cholesterol levels to prevent heart problems. You must include artichokes to your diet to prevent and improve your heart health.
Regulates blood pressure
Artichokes contain a high content of potassium and several other essential minerals, which are extremely important to improve your organ systems. Potassium neutralizes the effects of sodium, which raises blood pressure levels otherwise.
The wonderous artichoke plant acts as a catalyst for people on medication for hypertension. They even prevent you from potassium deficiency. Diabetic patients are advised to add artichokes to their diet to control further complications relating to hypertension. Lastly, they even prevent you from heart attacks and other coronary illnesses.
Improves liver health
For several years, artichokes treat liver conditions. But however, research was necessary to prove the exact impact of it.
Artichokes contain two kinds of antioxidants – cynarin and silymarin. Both these antioxidants reduce toxins from your body and improve your overall health. There are certain studies that prove the impact of antioxidants to regrow and repair marred liver cells.
Regulate bowel movements
Artichokes consist of large quantities of fiber in them. This is extremely beneficial to improve gastrointestinal health and reduces the chances of constipation. Fibers help to regulate your bowels and keep them strong and healthy. It even helps in reducing cramps, bloating, excess flatulence, and many more digestive problems.
When you have conditions like diarrhea and loose stool, fiber absorbs excess fluid and regulates normal bowel functioning. However, artichokes can also soothe chafed gallbladders and can cure a blocked duct, which allows you to have a healthy digestive functioning. Further, this stimulates the production and secretion of stomach acid and bile to enhance digestion.
The artichokes are the best balm you can get for your liver. They reduce any toxicity in the blood and can work best as an antidote to your hangover. However, you will find a lot of people to chew the leaves of an artichoke after high alcohol consumption.
Prevent birth defects
Pregnant women benefit themselves from artichokes, to have a healthy child. Given that, artichokes contain folate, it prevents problems in the neural tube of the fetus. Proper growth of the brain and spine in the fetus requires an adequate amount of folate and folic acid. Thus, making it important in a pregnancy diet.
Improves Bone density
You will see artichokes to be rich in manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. All these minerals are essential for bone density and bone health. Thus, if you consume a good amount of artichokes in your diet, you can reduce the chances of osteoporosis.
Minerals like magnesium and manganese are important to boost your body’s metabolism. If you consume artichokes, your body will get a good amount of both these minerals. The body requires magnesium for protein synthesis, and manganese to boost the metabolic rate of cholesterol, carbohydrates, and amino acids.
Boosts brain functioning
Artichokes work as a vasodilator and are perfect to enhance proper brain functioning. It allows more oxygen to reach your brain, which is essential for cognitive health.
The plant even contains a high amount of phosphorus that has a significant presence in our brain cells. So, a deficiency of this mineral can lead to a collapse of normal brain functioning. Thus, artichokes are a must inclusion, if you want a healthy brain.
Directory to buy, cook, and eat artichokes
After knowing all the goodness artichokes gives you, how to cook artichokes must be the question on your mind. Well, you just need to hold your patience, and we will guide you through it well.
Almost everyone loves to steam their artichokes. But you can also grill, stuff, bake, braise or even boil them. However, if you end up boiling artichokes, they turn out soggy. So, steaming makes them perfectly moist and scrumptiously edible.
Before you steam the artichokes, you will need some garlic, lemon, and bay leaves to bring in the exotic aroma, and to induce the luscious flavor in them. You even require a pressure cooker or a steamer to cook your artichokes. However, you need to be careful while using a cooker, or else you may end up overcooking it.
But before we teach you how to cook artichokes perfectly, let’s see how you need to buy them.
How to buy artichokes?
- You must always choose an artichoke that weighs heavy. Or else, if they are light, you will find it to be dry from inside and even less meaty.
- While buying an artichoke, you need to see if the leaves squeak out when you squeeze it. That is an alternate way to check if they are fresh or not.
- Always choose an artichoke bulb, where the leaves are closed. If the leaves are flayed open then the artichoke is blossomed and thus, old.
- You must always keep in mind that; artichokes are flower buds and an open one will always be old.
- You may notice some of them be frost burnt. Those are the ones that taste best and usually costs more than the others.
How to cook artichokes?
- Preparing time: 5 to 10 minutes
- Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes
Ingredients to cook artichokes:
- Large bulbs of artichokes
- 3 cloves garlic; cut in half with the skin on
- 2 slice lemon
- 2 bay leaves
Process to cook artichokes:
- Chop off the tips of leaves
You will find tiny thorns at the end of each leaf of an artichoke. Use a pair of kitchen scissors to chop them off. However, this is done for aesthetic purposes, as the thorns turn soft when you cook them. But a slight clipping always makes it easier in managing the artichokes.
- Slice the artichoke top
You need to slice off ¾ inch from the top of the artichoke. You’ll do this best with a saw-toothed bread knife.
- Take off the small leaves
You need to take off all the small leaves along the stem and also from the base of the artichoke.
- Chop off the excess stem
You need to chop off the stem which is excess just below the bulb of the artichoke. Many find the stem to have a bitter taste. But a lot of people love to cook the artichoke with the excess stem. You may find the taste of the innermost core of the stem to taste similar to the heart of the artichoke.
If you like it that way, then you can just peel off the hard outer most layer with a kitchen peeler.
- Wash the artichokes
You must wash the artichokes in running water. Wash them thoroughly by opening the leaves slightly, helping the water to seep in, and clean it well. Chopping off the tips help a little to open up the leaves and prevents you from needle-like pricks.
- Set a pot up before steaming the artichokes
You first need a big pot with an ample amount of water. Drop-in it the lemon slices, garlic cloves, and bay leaf for the exotic aroma. Then slowly place the steaming basket in it.
- Steaming the artichokes
You must now, gently place the artichokes onto the steaming basket. Use a lid to cover the pot and let the water boil, to soften the artichokes and infuse the aroma into it. Turn the heat to a simmer and leave it to cook for about 30 minutes. Then open the lid to see if the leaves come off easily. That’s when you know they are ready.
If you want to use a pressure cooker instead, complete the entire process in 15mintues. However, you may see a difference in the cooking time because it depends on how big the artichoke is. The smaller ones cook faster than the bigger ones.
How to eat an artichoke?
Now, that you know how to cook artichokes, let us tell you how you need to eat them. You can eat artichokes either when they are hot or cold. But they mainly have a special preference while its steaming and can be tabled along with some melted butter or mayonnaise. Here are the steps on how you need to eat them.
- You need to start pulling out each of the outer leaves one by one. Soak the white fleshy part in your favorite dip.
- Grip onto the end of the petal and slowly place it in your mouth. Gently pull out the pulpy, soft and divinely relishing part of the leaf. Keep aside to throw the rest of the petal.
- You need to continue this until all the petals are plucked.
- As you go closer to heart, you’ll find the petals to be delicate and tender. The tips turn out purple. You can pull them off at once and eat the part that is light-colored.
- Now, slowly with a scrape out the non-edible part and you’ll then see the heart of the artichoke.
- So, there it’s right there in front of you. Cut the heart of the artichoke into small pieces and relish it with your mouthwatering dip.
Be cautious while eating artichokes
It’s completely evident and obvious that artichokes contain numerous benefits. But you must keep in mind that they may turn severely hazardous to your health if eaten along with other foods. Apart from knowing how to cook artichokes, you must also know if it suits your body type or not. Many people are allergic to artichokes and their supplements.
People having existing liver ailments and gallbladder problems should avoid artichokes. They work as a prevention and not as a remedy for these diseases.
You may find yourself to urinate a little often when you consume artichokes. But apart from these minor warnings, they are the best inclusion to your diet. You just need to know the adequate amount and keep these precautions in mind.
Now get up buy, cook, and enjoy the scrumptious artichoke heart. Consult your nutritionist now, and include them to your diet and let the flower-bud of this thistle do the spell on your health!