Did you know that the artichoke is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables? It has been used since ancient times for many reasons from a breath freshener and digestive aid to treating cholesterol, diabetes and weight loss. Due to their widely beneficial purposes, many clinical studies have been performed to test whether they are truly beneficial. Below are 7 amazing reasons to be consuming artichokes in your diet.
Artichokes are a great source of dietary nutrition. They are rich in fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc. Artichokes are also a good source of vitamin C, K, folic acid, Thaimin, Naicin, Riboflavin. They are also a source of vitamin A.1
Choleric and Diuretic
Artichoke leaf has been used as a choleric and diuretic in traditional European medicine since Roman times. Traditional medicinal uses of artichoke pertain to liver function.2 According to The Essential Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbal Supplements, artichoke extract can serve as a natural diuretic. The extract can help to prevent water retention as well as aid in kidney function. Natural diuretics can help you lose five to 10 pounds of water weight in just one week. Artichoke is known to help with stimulating the production of bile. By speeding up the production of bile, it is likely to help you lose water weight.
Supports healthy liver function (hepatoprotective)
Artichokes have also been found to have hepatoprotective properties – the ability to prevent damage to the liver. According to Mills and Bone, it stimulates liver and kidney function, stimulates bile from the liver and protects liver cells against toxins via oxidative processes. It also promotes liver regeneration and prevents cholestasis – a condition where bile cannot flow from the liver to the duodenum.3
Artichoke has also been used in traditional medicine as a means to clear skin complexion. This is particularly useful for people who are trying to prevent cellulite.3
Relief for flatulence and constipation
Artichoke extract has been studied for its ability to relieve flatulence and constipation. An uncontrolled study of 553 patients with nonspecific digestive disorders experienced significant reduction of symptoms after 6 weeks of treatment with artichoke extract. Symptoms improved by an average of 70% with strongest effects on vomiting (88.3%), nausea (82.4%), abdominal pain (76.2%), loss of appetite (72.3%), constipation (71%), flatulence (68.2%) and fat intolerance (58.8%). In 85% of patients, the global therapeutic efficacy of artichoke was judged by the physicians as excellent or good.4,5
Assists Irritable bowel syndrome
Artichoke leaf appears to have substantial benefits in irritable bowel syndrome according to the available evidence. A subgroup of patients with IBS symptoms was identified from a sample of subjects with dyspeptic syndrome who were being monitored for 6 weeks. Analysis of the data revealed that 96% of patients rated artichoke leaf extract as better than or at least equal to previous therapies administered for their symptoms. Physicians also provided favourable reports on its effects in these patients.6
Lipid lowering benefits – helps balance cholesterol levels
There have been scientific studies conducted to show that artichokes may assist in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels by improving the HDL:LDL ratio. HDL or High Density Lipoprotein is also known as the good cholesterol. Clinical studies have found that artichoke leaf extract causes a modest but statistically significant reduction in total cholesterol.7
While artichoke extract has been found to have little side effects, those with serious health conditions should contact their physician before taking an artichoke supplement. Additionally, you need to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. You also need to eat enough calories while taking artichoke extract. Not eating enough will cause your body's metabolism to slow and your body will go into starvation mode, making it harder to burn calories and lose weight.
- United States department of Argriculture – Artichoke http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2869?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=25&sort=&qlookup=artichoke&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=
- Monograph: Globe Artichoke, Health Canada 2010
- Mills S & Bone K, Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. Churchill Livingstone 2000
- European Scientific Cooperative on Phototherapy “European Scientific Co-operative on Phototherapy (ESCOP) Series. (2003) 2nd ed. Monographs, ESCOP
- Braun L & Cohen M “Herbs & Natural Supplements An Evidence based Guide 2nd edn” Elsevier Mosby 2007
- Rafe Bundy et al. “Artichoke Leaf Extract Reduces Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Improves Quality of Life in Otherwise Healthy Volunteers Suffering from Concomitant Dyspepsia: A Subset Analysis” The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine 2004.
- Bundy et al 2008, Skarpanska-Stejnborn et al 2008