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Latin Name: Cynara scolymus
Common Names: Artichoke Leaf
Artichoke is the name for two perennial plants of the thistle group of the sunflower (Compositae) family. One is the Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus). It’s potato-like tubers, most favoured as a food in Europe and China, contain inulin, a valuable source of fructose for diabetics. The tubers are also used to produce alcohol. The other plant - most commonly thought of as the artichoke - is a native of the Mediterranean. It is the ‘French’, or ‘globe’, artichoke (Cynara scolymus) of southern Europe whose immature, globular flower heads are a popular vegetable.
Beginning about 800 AD, North African Moors began cultivating artichokes in the area of Granada, Spain. Another Arab group, the Saracens, became identified with artichokes in Sicily. This may explain why the English word artichoke is derived from the Arab, ‘al'qarshuf’ rather than from the Latin, ‘cynara’.
Health Benefits of Artichoke powder
Artichokes are a superfood in every sense of the word. The phytonutrients in artichokes provide potent antioxidant benefits, and a 2006 study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a serving of artichokes provides greater antioxidant benefits per serving than many other foods traditionally considered to be antioxidant-rich such as dark chocolate, blueberries and red wine.
Anthocyanins, quercetin, rutin, and many other antioxidants contained in fresh artichokes offer a range of health benefits ranging from cancer prevention and immune support to protection against heart disease.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines published by the USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend that men consume between 30 and 38 g of dietary fiber per day, and that women consume between 21 and 25 g per day.
Currently the average American consumes roughly half this amount, leading to many potential health effects such as an increased risk of gut-related diseases and colonic cancer.
One 120 g artichoke provides a whopping 10.3 g of dietary fiber, making them a powerful tool for helping to not just keep you regular but also to improve your digestive health overall.
However, the digestive benefits of artichokes are not limited just to their fiber content.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Biological Trace Element Research showed significant reduction levels of lipids and cholesterol in the livers of mice fed a high-cholesterol diet when administered with artichoke extract.
Artichokes, as well as artichoke extracts from the leaves and stems of the plant have been historically recommended for liver health. Ongoing research seems to indicate that artichokes have qualities that may protect the liver and decrease blood lipids, such as cholesterol, in the body. Some researchers think that the mechanism for beneficial effects on the liver may be related to increased from of bile from the liver. Among the most powerful phytonutrients in artichokes, cynarin and silymarin have strong positive effects on the liver.
We have already established the antioxidant protection that some of the phytonutrients in artichokes can provide, but the cancer prevention benefits extend beyond this.
Rutin, quercetin, and gallic acid in particular are able to induce apoptosis or cell death within the body, and while this may sound like a bad thing it can actually help to prevent the proliferation of cells which leads to many forms of cancer.
What’s more, a study released by the University of Georg-August showed how phytonutrients found in artichokes can interfere with estrogen receptors and help to blunt the release of prostate specific antigen or PSA.
This suggests a great deal of promise in the use of artichoke leaf extract for the prevention and treatment of prostate cancer in men.
Artichokes provide around 107 mcg folic acid per serving, more than a quarter of the daily recommended amount of 400 mcg. Women who are pregnant or attempting to conceive should consume even more folic acid, since it can be instrumental in preventing neural tube defects in developing embryos, as well as increasing fertility in both men and women.
Furthermore, folic acid has been linked to prevention of other complications that can occur during pregnancy and childbirth, including pre-eclampsia, cleft lips, congenital heart defects.
The list of pregnancy-related health benefits attributed to folic acid is extensive and growing, so artichokes are a fantastic addition to the diet any pregnant woman or nursing mother.
Foods high in potassium such as bananas, sweet potatoes, and of course artichokes help to maintain a healthy balance of electrolytes within the body.
Consuming plenty of potassium and magnesium is essential for offsetting the potentially harmful effects of consuming too much sodium, and in particular can help to prevent or combat hypertension or high blood pressure.
Women and other individuals suffering from water retention may also find this useful because it elicits a mild diuretic effect to help shed excess fluid from the body.
Earlier we discussed the vitamin K content of artichokes and how it may help to reduce vascular calcification.
Another interesting benefit of vitamin K is the role that it plays in the formation of bones and the general support of ongoing bone health.
Artichokes also contain vitamin C which, as well as being well known for its immune-boosting properties, is also directly involved in the formation of a protein known as collagen. Collagen is essential for the health of our skin, bones, and connective tissues.
Magnesium and potassium are also crucial building blocks of many tissues throughout the body, with magnesium helping to enhance the uptake and absorption of calcium.
This quite clearly suggests further bone and joint health benefits offered by artichokes.
Another interesting and highly beneficial nutrient found in artichokes is manganese.
Manganese is used in the metabolism of cholesterol, amino acids, and fatty acids, making it absolutely essential in enabling the body to correctly utilise the nutrients in the foods we eat.
If you are trying to lose weight and optimising your metabolism should be one of the top priorities, and the manganese content of artichokes excellent tool to add to your arsenal for this purpose.
PROTECTION AGAINST FREE RADICALS
By this point, the antioxidant and overall protective properties of artichokes should be quite clear to you.
There are a number of environmental and lifestyle factors which can cause oxidation of our cells, leading to cellular damage which can compromise the body’s ability to protect itself against disease and further toxins.
The simple functions and processes that our body undergoes on a daily basis often produce compounds which are known as free radicals as a by-product stop.
These free radicals, when left unchecked and unbalanced, can cause significant stress on our cells and lead to the kind of oxidative damage described above.
Obviously this is something we want to avoid or minimize as much as possible!
Application of Artichoke powder
Don’t confuse artichoke with Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus).
Packing: By 25kgs/drum, inner by double plastic bag.
Storage: Stored in a cool & dry well-closed container, keep away from moisture and strong light/heat.
Shelf life: Two years under well storage situation.