Chances are, if you have visited an Italian restaurant, you have seen this in several places on the menu. Usually, you get them as an appetizer, in a pasta dish, or marinated in an antipasto. However, have you ever stopped to think about the artichoke’s health benefits? That’s where I come in.
As I have done before in my posts on oregano, basil, parsley, and rosemary, I will be taking a look at this wonderful thistle (yes, that’s what it is). Not only will you see what it can do for you, but I will also be sharing how to grow it yourself, the nutrition it can add to your diet, and it’s potential health benefits.
You may be surprised at what you find (I know I was) and motivated to make it more of a regular addition to your own diet, whether out at a restaurant or in the comfort of your own home kitchen.
Let’s get to it as we investigate our first non-herb in this series!
What Are Artichokes, Where Do They Come From, And How Do They Grow?
According to Britannica.com, artichokes originally came from the western and central portions of the Mediterranean, though they since have expanded to most parts of the world.
As for what is edible on them, they are usually sought after for their leaves and the “heart”, which is actually the flower head in immature form. You may have never seen an artichoke fully bloomed, but they have an incredibly beautiful, purple flower!
Artichokes are also generally a perennial (come back every year) plant and though they produce seeds, it is apparently better to plant different parts of the plant to get another crop.
They grow best in humid, but mild climates that have very rich soil, which is why you can see the Mediterranean region is perfect for them (though they are also mass grown in California).
To read more about the artichoke its journey to modern use, click the Britannica link above!
As far as where you can get them, you really shouldn’t have any trouble picking up artichokes in one of two forms at your local supermarket. The first is fresh from your produce section, while the second is probably in the condiment aisle where you will find the jarred, marinated variety (the same aisle you will find jarred or canned olives).
We will be focusing on the nutritional quality of the fresh variety later on, so stay tuned!
Growing Your Own Artichokes
While I have not personally taken on the task of growing my own artichokes, I have heard from a trusted source (The MIGardener Youtube Channel) that doing so lends to incredible flavor since they aren’t being shipped across the country before you can get them.
Think of the difference in taste between store-bought apples and ones you get while apple picking. Night and day!
As you probably already know, I am a huge proponent of growing your own produce whenever possible, not only for the freshness, but also because it saves money, and you are guaranteed to know exactly what went into the process!
With so many resources out there, it’s also never been easier to learn how. Check out these videos I found to give you a great head start!
Growing Your Own Artichokes:
How To Grow More Artichokes:
Growing Artichokes In Containers:
Nutritional Profile of Artichokes
What may surprise you is just how much nutrition can be packed into just a medium-sized artichoke, which can easily be eaten by one person (meaning you will be getting all that nutrition!). It may even have enough nutrition to make you feel less guilty when indulging in those spinach and artichoke dips (more on that at the end of this section!).
With that being said, let’s take a look at all the humble artichoke has to offer your diet!
As always, we will be looking at the nutritional profile in a 2,000 calorie diet. I used my normal tool from Self.com for the information, so take a moment to check that out for pretty much any type of ingredient you can think of!
1 Medium Artichoke
- Calories: 60.2
- Total Fat: 0.2 (0%)
- Saturated Fat: 0.0g (0%)
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Cholesterol: 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium 120mg (5% DV)
- Total Carbohydrates: 13.5g (4% DV)
- Dietary Fiber: 6.9g (28% DV)
- Total Sugar: 1.3g
- Protein: 4.2g
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 21.8mg
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids: 58.9mg
- Vitamin C: 15.0mg (25%)
- Vitamin E: 0.2mg (1%)
- Vitamin K: 18.9mcg (24%)
- Thiamine: 0.1mg (6%)
- Riboflavin: 0.1mg (5%)
- Niacin: 1.3mg (7%)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1mg (7%)
- Folate: 87.0mcg (22%)
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.4mg (4%)
- Choline: 44.0mg
- Calcium: 56.3mg (6%)
- Iron: 1.6mg (9%)
- Magnesium: 76.8mg (19%)
- Phosphorus: 115mg (12%)
- Potassium: 474mg (14%)
- Copper: 0.3mg (15%)
- Manganese: 0.3mg (16%)
As you can see, from a nutritional perspective, artichokes are a machine! Low in calories and fat, yet high in fiber, vitamins and minerals, you can’t go wrong by adding them to your plate!
If you are looking to add these health benefits to your diet in delicious ways, then check out these awesome recipes!
Spinach Artichoke Dip:
Potential Health Benefits of Artichokes
Besides adding a lot of nutritional value to your diet, regular consumption of artichokes also can contribute several awesome health benefits.
According to Organic Facts, artichokes have some of the highest levels of antioxidants that you will find among all vegetables as well as powerful cancer-fighting properties! They are also associated with improved liver and brain function, improved blood pressure, and improved heart health.
For those who enjoy staying regular, you should take note of the fiber amount listed above. Gaining 28% of your recommended intake in just one food item makes it easier to reach the 100% goal over the rest of the day.
Pregnant women should especially take note its abundant folate content, which has shown effective at preventing birth defects in children! Additionally, they carry great amounts of bone-building minerals, which should make anyone at risk for osteoporosis pay attention (I know it is in my family!)
Lastly, according to Healthline, artichokes may have a positive effect on levels of bad cholesterol!
These are just a summary of the potential health benefits! Please feel free to click the links provided to find out more!
Thistle Me This Batman – Why Aren’t You Eating These Yet?
With the combination of the nutritional profile and variety of ways to prepare them, the humble artichoke’s health benefits more than justify making it a part of your regular diet. I do hope you have found this post to be informative, encouraging, and most of all, mouth-watering!
Now it’s your turn! What do you think of the health benefits of artichokes? Were you surprised at the amount of nutrition they contain?
Are you a fan of artichokes? If so, what is your favorite way to prepare/eat them? Do you have a method not mentioned above that you would like to share? Let us know your recipe!
I want to hear all your thoughts down in the comments below! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them! Tomorrow is a comment day, so you can check back and expect a response by the evening, Eastern Standard Time!
If you enjoyed today’s post and want to be notified of each time there is a new one, consider becoming a subscriber up in the top right corner of the page!
Lastly, if you know an artichoke lover or someone who could benefit from adding them to their diet, please hit those share buttons that have been following you down the page. I would greatly appreciate it as more readers means more ability on my part to keep producing these posts!
If you wish to read more from this series, check out the following articles!
- Oregano’s Health Benefits
- Basil’s Health Benefits
- Parsley’s Health Benefits
- Rosemary’s Health Benefits
That’s all for now! As always, God bless and happy eating!