Healthsomeness Written Logo

Artichokes

This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Artichokes Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 84.9 g
Calories: 47 kcal
Protein: 3.3 g
Carbohydrate: 10.5 g
Dietary fiber: 5.4 g
Sugars: 1 g
Fat: 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.1 g
Vitamin C: 11.7 mg
Vitamin B1: 0.1 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.1 mg
Vitamin B3: 1 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg
Vitamin B9: 68 μg
Vitamin A: 1 μg
Vitamin E: 0.2 mg
Vitamin K: 14.8 μg
Calcium: 44 mg
Iron: 1.3 mg
Magnesium: 60 mg
Phosphorus: 90 mg
Potassium: 370 mg
Sodium: 94 mg
Zinc: 0.5 mg

The artichoke is a rarity. It is a plant originally derived from the thistle, yet for a food that started out so unappetising, research is now showing that it may possess a multitude of health benefits for your heart, gut and liver.

In addition, the artichoke is a great source of vitamin C, and two hard to find essential minerals: potassium and magnesium.

Preparing an artichoke is a slightly harder task than it looks, so it’s important to know what you’re doing (this doctor ended up visiting the hospital, and could not go to work). Essentially, the artichoke ‘fruit’ (which is actually a flower that hasn’t bloomed) has two edible parts: the tender, inside portion of the leaves, and the heart.

Boil or steam the artichoke, then remember to remove the leaves and the hairy, prickly section (sometimes called the ‘choke’) so you don’t end up with any nasty surprises.

The artichoke provides a good amount of nutrition for the calories it contains. 1 medium artichoke (128g) contains 60 calories, and is high in three micronutrients: vitamin C (25% of your daily value per artichoke), magnesium (19% DV) and potassium (13% DV).

Vitamin C is important for iron absorption, gum health and may have cardiovascular benefits. Potassium is an essential mineral that may help with such disparate things as blood pressure complications and muscular strength, and magnesium intake is a great benefit to the heart and blood vessels.

What is important about artichoke having such high levels is that potassium and magnesium deficiency are quite common, and eating artichokes may go some way to preventing these.

The positive benefits of artichoke that are being researched, however, have less to do with the nutritional benefits.

Firstly, artichoke has a fantastic cardiovascular benefit, as it has been shown to reduce cholesterol, possibly helping with cardiovascular disease. With high cholesterol being a major risk factor for some of the top killers in the developed world, namely coronary heart disease and strokes, anything that reduces your cholesterol is a major plus point.

Also, the possible cardiovascular benefits of vitamin C, magnesium and potassium make the artichoke a great choice for a healthy heart.

Secondly, the artichoke has a number of digestive benefits. For those suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and dyspepsia, artichokes may have some positive effects on relieving the symptoms and discomfort associated with these conditions. One medium artichoke contains 28% DV of dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is important for the health of your colon, and may lower cholesterol.

Finally, the artichoke may have substantial benefits for your liver. One study showed that it had both liver-protecting (‘hepatoprotective’) and antioxidant benefits in rats that were exposed to dangerous chemicals that resulted in free radical damage.

This study found much the same effect more than 10 years later. What this means is that eating artichokes may prevent liver disease arising before it occurs, a fantastic benefit when liver disease is so prevalent (although there is no suggestion in these studies that artichokes will counteract the effect of alcohol!).