1. What is an artichoke?
A perennial thistle from southern Europe, Arabia and the Mediterranean, artichoke is mainly of two varieties: the conical shaped and the globe shaped artichokes. The edible part of the globular artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is the heart of the flower bud and the tender fleshy portions of the leaf sections and some part of the stem.
2. What are its nutritional values?
Artichokes are non-starchy vegetables containing low calories, a lot of fibre, vitamin C, folate and the essential magnesium, chromium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium. They have zero fat and zero cholesterol and have a low sodium content. Artichokes are also rich in antioxidants.
3. Does it fit into a regular diet?
Yes, by all means. Artichokes are a great way to include fibre in your diet. The USDA and the FDA recommends 120 grams of artichoke in order to get more than 10 grams of dietary fibre. Artichoke is an ideal fresh vegetable for diabetic people as it has no starch but contains 16 essential nutrients. It is maintained that German researchers recommend artichoke leaves for those with liver and gallbladder problems as it is found to increase the flow of bile. Artichokes can also improve your appetite and digestion while slightly lowering your blood sugar and work as a diuretic.
4. Is it true that artichokes are heart healthy?
Yes. Artichokes are often mentioned in connection with heart health. If you have high cholesterol then don’t hesitate to eat some artichokes. Although researchers are working hard on its cardio-protective properties, artichokes are indeed cardio-friendly foods with their zero calories and zero fats.
5. Are they safe for all?
Artichokes should not be used by those with gallstones and those with a blockage of the bile duct. Since artichoke is seen to stimulate bile flow, gall stones have a chance of blocking the bile duct.
6. How to cook artichokes?
There is no need to worry even if your artichoke looks thorny. The thorny ends of the leaves can be easily cut off with scissors along with the top. Even if the thorns remain they soften on cooking. The bitter stem can be cut off leaving an inch. Now, rinse the artichoke in running water before cooking. You can cook artichoke in salted boiling water until tender. Be creative and add garlic and the spices of your choice. Do not forget to drain the plant upside down after boiling! If you like only the tender layers, peel off the outer ones until you find the tender light green ones of your choice. You can also eat the heart of the plant after scraping out the inedible fuzzy insides.