HAIL to the ARTICHOKE

If you follow our blog regularly, you know we have been devoting the last several posts to the analysis of what makes certain “health” foods good for you. In doing research for our posts, one vegetable kept coming up time and time again. This vegetable happens to be a personal favorite so I thought: why not devote a whole post to it?

Hail to the almighty Artichoke!

Clinical and experimental trials have shown that eating artichokes may be useful in treating chronic digestive complaints including irritable stomach, nervous gastropathy, flatulence, and irritable bowel.

Artichokes have been shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). One study showed a decrease in total cholesterol of 18.5 and LDL cholesterol by 23. This amazing plant had actually gained widespread popularity in the 1950`s and 60`s before statin drugs came along. They contain high amounts of luteolin, which is known to play a role in it cholesterol lowering abilities.

Artichokes are packed with antioxidants, making them incredible defenders against cancer, aging, heart disease, and illness. They boost the immune system and lower cholesterol. In fact, they’re number 7 on the USDA’s top 20 antioxidant-rich foods list.

One artichoke contains approximately one fourth of the average adult`s daily fiber requirements.

Artichokes are packed with vitamin C, potassium, folic acid and magnesium, as well as other minerals and phytonutrients that increase health and wellbeing such as:

Quercetin

An anti-carcinogen flavonoid that works as an antioxidant to protect against cancer and heart disease.

Rutin

A flavonoid which promotes cardiovascular health, helps prevent cell proliferation associated with cancer, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties.

Anthocyanins

Color pigments in Artichokes that are powerful antioxidants. They are associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, urinary tract health, memory function and healthy aging.

Gallic Acid

A potent antioxidant also found in red wine and black tea. It has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation in prostate cancer cells.

Luteolin and Cynarin

Very powerful polyphenol antioxidants that may lower cholesterol levels. Artichokes are very concentrated in cyanarin, which may also help in regeneration of liver tissue.

Caffeic Acid and Chlorogenic Acid

Contains anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral properties.

Silymarin

A powerful antioxidant that may aid the liver in regenerative tissue growth.

Now that you are sufficiently sold on WHY you should be eating artichokes, here is a wonderful and simple recipe that just screams “it’s finally grill time”!

Grilled Artichokes

Serves 6 to 8

3 whole artichokes
1 lemon
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
4-6 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil

If using a grill that needs to be started ahead of time, prepare the fire.

Fill a stockpot with water — deep enough to for the artichokes to fully float — and bring to a boil.

Trim the ends off the artichoke stems and slice the artichokes in half lengthwise. Set them, cut side down, on a platter or cutting board.

Zest the lemon and reserve the zest. Slice the lemon in half. Crush the garlic.

When the water is boiling, squeeze the lemons and drop the rinds into the water. Add the salt, pepper and garlic. Gently lower the artichoke halves into the boiling water and lower the heat to simmer. Cook until the leaves pull away when gently tugged, 15 to 20 minutes, turning the artichokes over halfway through.

Remove the artichokes with tongs and drain on a towel. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard the fuzzy choke and brush the cut side with olive oil. Place them cut-side down on the grill and cook about 3 minutes, until grill-marks form.

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