Thursday, March 14, 2013

Article # 394. Health benefits of Artichoke

High in Antioxidants
A study done by the USDA found that 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.
Excellent Source of Fiber
One medium artichoke contains seven to 10 grams of fiber. For most adults, this much fiber provides about 20 percent to 25 percent of daily recommendations. For anyone who already keeps track of fiber intake, it's not easy to find the fiber powerhouse foods. For reference, the same amount of broccoli or apples has closer to three or four grams of fiber. This much fiber leaves little room for digestible carbohydrates, making artichokes a low glycemic index food, as well. The fiber is balanced out with three to four grams of protein and less than one gram of fat.
More than Fiber
Artichokes aren't all fiber. One medium artichoke qualifies as a good source (at least 10 percent of the daily value) or excellent source (at least 20 percent of the daily value) of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, potassium and manganese. The beauty of nutrient-rich vegetables like the artichoke is that you get the nutrients and fiber without a lot of calories. The nutrients mentioned above are a bargain at fewer than 65 calories.

Traditional Health Benefits
Artichokes or extracts from the artichoke have been used as traditional remedies for several health conditions. Historical uses of artichokes have been use as a diuretic, treatment for hyperuricemia (high levels of uric acid in the blood and a cause of gout), to increase bile production, as an appetite stimulant and even to freshen breath. Artichoke extracts are being studied using modern research methods to evaluate benefits to these conditions, as well as others, such as high blood cholesterol. So far, the research is promising, but not conclusive.

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.

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.
Cholesterol Fighter
High cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis. Artichokes and artichoke leaf extract reduce cholesterol levels. The efforts to study this idea date back all the way to the 1970s, when scientists began examining cynarin and cholesterol in their labs.4

In a 12-week, double-blind study, 75 patients received placebo or 1,280 mg standardized artichoke leaf daily. At the end of the 12 weeks, the treated group recorded a modest reduction in total cholesterol of 4.2%.5
To further demonstrate the artichoke’s heart-healthy powers, scientists set up a randomized, placebo-controlled study to examine the effect of artichoke leaf extract in patients with high cholesterol. All participants showed positive results. Over 6 weeks, participants were split up, with half receiving artichoke extract and the rest a placebo. The patients receiving artichoke were shown to have an 18.5% reduction in cholesterol level.