Artichokes are one of the most nutrient-rich vegetables. The artichoke is a large thistle that belongs to the sunflower family. The green vegetable has several thick pointed leaves attached to a central heart. It resembles a large flower bud on top of a slender stalk. The soft petal bases and heart of the vegetable are the edible portions.
It is one of the highly nutritious vegetables available during the winter. California leads in the cultivation of this vegetable where it is available throughout the year.
A medium-sized artichoke that weighs about 125 grams is packed full of 4g of Protein, 13g of carbohydrates, 0.05g of fat, 6.5g of fibre, 50mg of calcium, 1mg of iron, 470mg of potassium, 110mg of phosphorous, 75mg of magnesium, 0.5mg of zinc, 115mg of sodium, a high level of Vitamins A, B, E and K and zero cholesterol.
The vegetable has a delicate flavor and numerous health benefits. Some of the health benefits that an artichoke delivers are:
Improved cardiovascular health - the high quantities of potassium in the vegetable help to maintain normal heart rhythm.
Immunity - the artichoke is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. This helps to boost the body’s immunity against diseases. It also promotes good health. These potent nutrients have been found helpful in the maintenance of healthy cells especially in cases of prostrate cancer. This is because they inhibit the proliferation of the cancerous cells. The vegetable has high contents of vitamin C which supports a healthy immune system. Color pigments in the vegetable reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Digestion – the vegetable is rich in dietary fiber which supports a healthy digestive system. This helps to prevent constipation.
Blood health - fiber helps to lower blood cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels and lessens the risk of heart disease.
Weight control – dietary fiber is regarded as a vital aid in weight control. This is because it helps one feel full, hence reduces food intake.
To cook the vegetable, you can steam, boil or microwave it. Baby artichokes cook faster than the older ones. They also yield more vegetable than the mature type. It can be used in soups and casseroles.
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