There are ways to cook an artichoke, such as steaming or braising, so that the entire thing, stem and all, can be consumed. However, even eating just the meat of the leaves and the heart will provide benefits.
Here are several reasons to add more artichokes to your diet:
High in Antioxidants
Artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable and they ranked seventh in a study of the antioxidant levels of 1,000 different foods. Some of the powerful antioxidants in artichokes are quercertin, rutin, anthocyanins, cynarin, luteolin, and silymarin.
Cancer Prevention and Treatment
Studies done with artichoke leaf extract have found that they induce apoptosis (cell death) and reduce cell proliferation in many different forms of cancer, including prostate cancer, leukemia, and breast cancer. An Italian study found that a diet rich in the flavanoids present in artichokes reduces the risk of breast cancer.
Increased Bile Flow
The pulp of artichoke leaves contains a polyphenol antioxidant called cynarin which increases bile flow.
Good for the Liver Thanks to cynarin and another antioxidant, silymarin, artichokes are very beneficial to the liver. Studies have found they may even regenerate liver tissue. Artichokes have long been used in folk and alternative medicine as a treatment for liver ailments and the scientific studies are now proving them to be correct.
Artichokes help the digestive system. They are a natural diuretic, they aid digestion, improve gallbladder function and, as mentioned above, they are of great benefit to the liver.
Ingredients in artichoke leaves have been shown to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase. They raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol (LDL).
High in Fiber
One large artichoke contains a quarter of the recommended daily intake of fiber. A medium artichoke has more fiber than a cup of prunes.