When most people plan out their daily meals, artichokes aren’t exactly a frequent feature – but maybe they should be.
Artichokes are rich in nutritional value, and particularly high in antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer(1). They can take a little time to prepare, but the health benefits they offer are well worth the effort.
An Antioxidant Powerhouse
In 2004, a US Food and Drug Administration study about antioxidant content in produce found that artichokes had some of the highest antioxidant content of all the foods tested(2).
This makes them valuable in delaying the onset of several age-related diseases and conditions(3).
Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals in the body, which can reduce the chances of cell mutation and the development of cancer.
Artichoke extract was also shown to slow tumor development in cases of breast cancer in one 2012 study(4). The anticancer potential of artichokes is strong, although more research is needed to determine exactly how dietary consumption of artichokes may help prevent cancer (the 2012 study featured artichoke extract used in a lab setting where artichoke extract was applied directly to tumor cells rather than ingested as part of a patients diet).
Artichoke And Liver Function
In a 2015 study, researchers examined the potential for artichoke leaf extract in treating paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.
“Paracetamol overdose is a predominant cause of hepatotoxicity in both humans and experimental animals,” the researchers explained.
“These results suggest that [artichoke leaf extract, or ALE] may protect from paracetamol-induced liver toxicity via its antioxidant and anti-apoptotic properties.”(5)
Incorporating Artichoke Into Your Diet
Artichoke hearts can be purchased in jars or cans, but the best way to get the most nutritional value from artichokes is to prepare and eat them fresh.
Artichokes can be steamed or boiled. First, cut the stem off, and then trim away the sharp tips of the leaves. Pry the leaves open a bit so that the food will cook more evenly. You can tell an artichoke is ready to eat when you can pull out a central petal with ease.
Cooked artichokes can be served cold or warm. You eat them by pulling each leaf through your teeth to draw out the soft flesh, then discarding the leftover leaf.
Artichoke hearts are 100% edible and go great in salads, on sandwiches, or even on pizza – their flavor pairs nicely with herbs and sharp cheese, like goat cheese.