If you have to list artichokes under edibles you will name it as a vegetable. But this unique plant-like veggie is actually a thistle. This plant originated from the Mediterranean has been in use for centuries for high medicinal value. Here, we will tell you how to cook artichokes as they are tougher to crack than you think!
Nutritional value of artichokes
Artichokes are known for their innumerable benefits. They lower blood sugar, improve digestion, liver health, and heart health. The extract of artichokes has high concentration compounds in the plant and is quite popular as a supplement. Find out the reasons why you should have these before trying different recipes.
USDA states that artichokes have low saturated fat and cholesterol. They are rich in vitamins, fiber, and minerals. They have vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamin, folate, niacin, vitamins like B6, B12, A, E, D, and K. These also include calcium, zinc, sodium, iron, manganese, zinc, and phosphorus.
Benefits of artichokes
It is evident that artichokes are one of the best veggies to additions to your diet because it has a high nutritional value. You should now know the benefits that validate the reasons to eat them more often:
1. Prevent cancer
The high antioxidant content in artichokes levels out several vegetables put together. As per a USDA study, artichokes stand in the 7th position to have the highest antioxidant content compared to 1000 other plants.
A study done in 2018 and published by Lipids in Health and Disease journal stated that extracts from tubers and leaves of Jerusalem artichokes help inhibit deadly cell proliferation. Thus, this plant acts as a weapon for cancer cells and is rich in polyphenols.
Extracts of the artichoke are promising for our diet in terms of cancer prevention and also healing therapy for people who are suffering from it. There are also studies that prove that this plant has therapeutic value for treating mesothelioma.
2. Heart health
You can find many artichoke heart recipes online, which are typically made for people who face heart problems. This plant is known for its amazing way of reducing bad cholesterol level and increase good cholesterol. It improves the omega-3 fatty acids level in this process as well.
Bad cholesterol is basically fat that builds up in arteries and blocks blow flow. It also increases pressure and leads to fatal heart problems like strokes. Since the reduction of any level of LDL cholesterol is good, you must add them to your diet and improve heart health.
3. Regulate blood pressure
Artichokes have a high level of potassium and have essential minerals that improve our organ system all through the body. Potassium aids us to neutralize impacts of sodium that otherwise increases blood pressure.
The artichokes work like a vasodilator and perfect for people who have medicines for hypertension and prevent the effect of potassium deficiency. Most diabetic patients are encouraged to consume artichokes as that helps prevent complications related to blood pressure. Finally, it also prevents you from coronary heart diseases and heart attacks.
4. Better liver health
For centuries, people have used artichokes as a liver tonic. However, the exact impact was not fully known until science could test it. There are two types of antioxidants found in artichokes – silymarin and cynarin. Both of them improve our overall health and reduce the presence of toxins. According to some studies, the antioxidant content actively promotes repair and regrowth of damaged liver cells.
5. Proper bowel movements
The artichokes are rich in dietary fiber and are a beneficial nutritional staple to improve digestive health. Fiber adds bulks to what you eat and keeps your bowels strong and reduce signs of constipation. It reduces bloating, general discomfort, excess flatulence, cramps, and more.
If you have conditions like loose stool and diarrhea, fiber will help you absorb extra liquid and form a healthy bowel movement. They also clean up for bad cholesterol, arteries, and reduce heart diseases.
There is one more benefit of artichoke heart when it comes to digestion – how it reacts on the gallbladder. Artichokes help soothe inflamed gallbladders and can solve the problem of a blocked duct. This allows a normal function and they stimulate the secretion and production of gastric juices and bile to improve digestion.
6. Hangover cure
Artichokes work like a good salve for our liver and reduce blockage. It reduces toxicity in our blood and that’s why they are perfect for a hangover cure. Many people tend to chew artichoke leaves after drinking heavily.
7. Prevents birth defects
Artichokes help expecting women have healthy and normal children. Since these plants include high folate in them, they prevent defects of the neural tube in newborns. A process of closure of the neural tube in vitro needs a certain level of folate to work properly and folic acid is a vital part of a pregnancy diet.
8. Bone density
The artichokes are high in phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium. These essential minerals help improve bone density and reduce the possibility of having osteoporosis.
9. Boosted metabolism
Both manganese and magnesium are valuable parts of our body’s metabolic process and artichokes have them in high amounts. Magnesium is essential for protein synthesis and in addition to calcium, which further strengths our bone health. Manganese is more involved compared to magnesium and improves the metabolic rate of amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates.
10. Better brain functioning
Artichokes are great for brain functioning and the quality of this plant works like a vasodilator. It lets more oxygen reach our brain for better cognitive health. Phosphorus is essential for artichokes and is found in our brain cells. The deficiency of phosphorus is related with a decline of cognitive ability. Thus, if you want to have a healthy brain, you must have artichokes every day.
Guide to buy, cook, and eat artichokes
You can grill, braise, stuff, bake, and boil artichokes to make them edible enough. Most people love to steam them and have. Boiling artichokes usually water-log them but steaming them gives the right level of moisture.
Find out how you can steam artichokes to relish them in the best way. You need bay leaves, garlic, and lemon for the steaming water and add flavor to the artichokes.
You can steam artichokes either on a stovetop or in a pressure cooker. The cooker gets the work done faster, but you have little control of the results – you can overcook it by mistake. Below, we have a detailed guide that will help you buy, cook, and eat artichokes properly.
How to buy artichokes?
- Choose artichokes that weigh heavy. If the artichokes feel light, they might be dry or not that meaty
- If you squeeze artichokes, the leaves will squeak. It is another way to find out that the artichoke is fresh.
- Choose artichokes that have their leaves closed with little separation and not flayed wide open. Note that artichokes are flower buds and as they age, they open up. If you already buy artichokes that are open, the leaves will be old.
- Some artichokes look like they have been burned by frost. These, however, taste better than those that are not touched by frost and often charge more than usual.
How to cook artichokes?
- Preparation: 5 minutes
- Cooking time: 35 minutes
What you need:
- Large globes of artichokes
- 2 cloves of garlic sliced in half with skin on
- 1 slice of lemon
- 1 bay leaf
1. Cut the tip of leaves
Most artichokes will have tiny thorns at the end of the leaves. You need to use kitchen scissors to cut them off. This step is for aesthetic because the thorns soften when you cook. However, trimming them down will be easier to manage the artichokes.
2. Slice off the top of artichokes
Slice ¾ inch to inch off the tip of an artichoke. This works best when done with a serrated bread knife.
3. Remove small leaves
Pull off small leaves located at the base or on the stem.
4. Cut off excess stem
Chop off the excess steam leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stem might seem bitter than the rest, but most people like to eat that too. The inner core of stem tastes like the artichoke heart.
If you want, you can leave the whole long stem on the artichoke. You just need to cut off the stem and peel the hard-outer layer with a vegetable peeler.
5. Rinse artichokes
Wash artichokes in running water. When you wash them, open up the leaves a little so that the water can go inside easily. It helps to cut off the thorny tips and makes artichokes simpler to open without needing pokes.
6. Set up a pot
You need to add water in a big pot and a few ounces of water to it. Add the garlic, lemon, and bay leaf to it for the aroma. Add the steaming basket after that.
7. Steam artichokes
Place artichokes on the steaming basket. Cover it with a pot, bring it to boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Let it cook for 30 minutes or until you can pull out the outer leaves.
You can also use a pressure cooker and finish off the process within 15 minutes. The cooking time can differ according to the size of the artichoke. The bigger they are, the longer they take to cook.
How to eat an artichoke?
You need to eat artichokes either hot or cold. Most people prefer them hot and served with a dip like mayonnaise or melted butter. You can also add some balsamic vinegar to the mayo dip to make it taste better. Find out how to eat them in the steps below:
- Start pulling out the outer leaves one at a time. Dip the white fleshy part in the dip.
- Grip the other end of petal and place it in mouth dip side down. Pull through teeth to remove the soft, pulpy, and delicious portion of the petal. Throw away the rest of the petal.
- Continue the process till all the petals are removed.
- When you reach the inner leaves, they will be tender and have purple tips. You can remove them at once. Dip and eat the light-colored parts of the leaves.
- With a spoon or knife to scrape out the inedible fuzzy part or the choke that covers the artichoke heart.
- Right underneath the artichoke’s choke lies the heart. You need to cut that into pieces and then dip it into your favorite dip to eat.
Summing up how to cook artichokes
Before you cook artichokes, you need to wash them and cut the tiny thorns. Cut the excess stem as they taste bitter. You can cook artichokes in a pan of water and add spices and herbs to it. Once you cook them, you can eat them either hot or cold. Serve them with dips and sauces, but make them as healthy as possible.
Caution on eating artichokes
Artichokes sure do have lots of benefits but they are also extremely dangerous when connected to any food item. You need to research to not only when how to cook artichokes but also what to eat them with. Some people are sensitive to artichokes and can have allergies, especially from the leaf extract as they are in concentrated form.
As artichokes are thistle and not really a vegetable, they relate to ragweed, marigold, daisies, and chrysanthemums. So, there are people who suffer from allergies and might have a bad experience with artichokes.
People facing a liver disease must not have artichokes as it increases the negative aspect of their disease. You need to use artichokes like a preventive method for gallbladder or liver disease, but no cure.
Artichokes also make us urinate very often, and you can suffer from an overactive bladder. Artichokes can make a minor urine condition really bad. Other than a specific warning, artichokes make a great element for your diet. You just need to know if you can have it and how much.
It is time you plan to buy, cook, and relish the artichoke heart. If you want to ask a dietician or nutritionist to help you, consult them and then add them to your regular diet.