When we think of flowers, we tend to think of roses, lilies, and maybe even hyacinths. Artichokes, though? Not so much. And yet, if this delicious treat were to go unpicked, that’s exactly what you’d get.
Take the time to google “artichoke flower arrangements”. They’re seriously a sight to behold.
The artichoke that we know and love may be classified as a vegetable, but it’s actually the bud of a thistle plant before it blooms. And while we stand by what we said about the flower being pleasing to the eye, the bud’s ability to please the palate justifies an early picking.
To be perfectly fair though, you may look at this prickly vegetable and wonder “how on earth am I supposed to eat that?” Fresh artichokes don’t really look like the most edible thing to even come from a plant. It’s certainly hard to connect them to the dip we enjoy in restaurants. Fear not, though. The good stuff lies within.
The part of the artichokes that we see is the outer leaves that are also known as bracks. These cover a fuzzy layer called the choke which in turn covers the heart, a meaty core that lies just above the stem. It’s the heart that is completely edible (you can even find them pickled or frozen) although the base of the bracks and the inside of the stem can be enjoyed as well. They’re rather tasty when steamed, and can go great in a dip or on pizza.
Don’t cancel out having them on their own, though.
And while we find the taste reason to enjoy artichokes, that’s far from the only one. They’re also insanely good for you. Let’s elaborate, shall we?
Helps your digestion
To start off, artichokes can support a healthy digestive system. They contain lots of fiber, which can help you to feel full and keep things moving (if you’ll pardon us the euphemism). Moreover, artichokes are high in inulin, a form of fiber that acts as a prebiotic and can help good bacteria to thrive in your gut.
The potential upshot of this is that you’ll have a healthier digestive system and fewer symptoms of indigestion (bloating, nausea, all that unpleasant stuff). There’s also some evidence that artichoke leaf extract (which as the name would suggest is an extract made from artichokes) may ease symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).
Bon voyage inflammation
In addition to fiber, artichokes are also high in antioxidants. In fact, they have one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants among vegetables. They’re rich in polyphenols that can help reduce inflammation as well as stave off disease and cell damage from free radicals.
Remember that extract we mentioned earlier? There’s some suggestion that it could be good for blood pressure in people who have hypertension.
Before, you run off to buy a supplement, keep in mind that there’s no determined dosage that’s been agreed upon. We don’t have enough info to say how much is safe (or effective). Additionally, while there are a few different things that this extract is supposedly good for, there’s nowhere near enough evidence to support its use for all of them. So try not to get carried away and make sure you talk to a doctor.
That said, artichokes are high in this potassium which may help to regulate blood pressure levels.
Artichokes may also be a good way to get a bit more protein in your diet when compared to other vegetables. They have about 3.5 grams per serving.
A lot of other good stuff
In addition to everything that we just mentioned, artichokes are just nutritient-dense in general. They contain a lot of nutrients such as magnesium, iron and phosphorus. They’re also quite high in folate and vitamins C and K. Not bad, not bad at all.
Something to try
If all of this was enough to convince you to consider picking up a few artichokes (remember to always follow your dietary needs!) Here’s something to try out. We said earlier that we’d talk more about how artichokes can be good on their own. Here’s your chance to see if you agree with us.
You can find a recipe for steaming artichokes here and for oven roasting them here. However you decide to prep them, you can eat the artichoke by peeling off each leaf individually. You can’t eat them whole, but you can’t scrape off the ends with your teeth. Once you get down to the choke, remove that and dig into the heart.
Throughout this, be sure to pair the artichoke with your favorite dip. Some people use mayo, others opt for lemon juice or hummus.