The artichoke is a spring flower vegetable, which can reach 1.5 m in height!
Its color is green or purple and its particular flavor ranges from bitter to sweet and sweet.
Perhaps sometimes forgotten from our shopping lists and culinary habits, the artichoke is nevertheless full of countless benefits for the body and can be eaten in many ways.
Let’s discover together this surprising vegetable, which I’m sure will be of great pleasure to you.
What is the artichoke?
The artichoke is a plant of the large Asteraceae family (which is the second most important plant family in number of species), of the Cynara genus.
It is a dicotyledonous plant, that is to say, whose seed has two cotyledons.
The cotyledon is a nutrient reserve for the plant during its germination.
In everyday food, we eat the flower, which is the edible part.
The leaves growing along the stem are also used because they contain the many active ingredients of the plant.
Like all vegetables, the artichoke is also rich in water (80%), and low in macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids), which is why it is low in energy (about 45 kcal per 100g).
On the other hand, the artichoke is very rich in fiber and micronutrients: minerals and vitamins.
The artichoke is rich in several fibers and micronutrients, of which we can retain some interesting values, for 100 g of cooked artichoke (the contents may vary depending on the method of preparation and cooking).
- fiber: 8.3g
- calcium: 42.9mg
- magnesium: 44mg
- phosphorus: 73 mg
- potassium: 427mg
- B3: 1.11 mcg
- B9: 89 mcg
- K1: 14.8 mcg
Among these nutrients, the artichoke is particularly a source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins B3 and B9.
The active ingredients of the artichoke are mainly contained in its leaves.
They are numerous and have very diverse properties, conferring a multitude of benefits to the artichoke.
These contain cynarin, also called dicafeylquinic acid, an active molecule that gives this vegetable its bitter taste.
Artichoke leaves also contain potassium and inulin, a polysaccharide from the fiber family, and more specifically fructans.
Finally, the artichoke is rich in antioxidants, especially from the flavonoid family.
What are the benefits of artichoke?
Kidneys and urinary system
Among the benefits of the artichoke, the draining property is well known.
The artichoke, whether consumed as a vegetable, herbal tea, or capsule, stimulates the drainage of the body and promotes the elimination of water.
It is also traditionally used to promote the excretory activity of the kidneys and to contribute to the body’s urinary elimination functions.
Flavonoids are part of the natural active ingredients of the artichoke.
These molecules have strong antioxidant properties.
The artichoke helps fight against free radicals and protects the body from them.
Free radicals are aggressive molecules that generate stress.
This stress oxidizes the tissues and cells of the body, it is oxidative stress.
Thus, we speak of “antioxidants” to fight against free radicals.
Consuming artichoke allows you to consume antioxidants, and therefore contribute to the body’s total antioxidant capacity and potentially help strengthen the body’s defenses.
Digestion and detoxification
The benefits of the artichoke are also numerous for your digestive system.
Indeed, thanks to its choleretic and cholagogue properties, the artichoke has a detoxifying effect, it supports the activity and promotes the proper functioning of the liver.
It also aids the digestive juice flow.
Thanks to this, and coupled with the richness in the fiber of the artichoke, digestion is then favored and facilitated, thus, intestinal comfort is improved.
How to consume the artichoke to get all the benefits?
The artichoke can be eaten in different forms.
It is available in the form of capsules or tablets.
Capsules or tablets contain cynarin artichoke extract.
They are to be taken two to three times a day, for a fixed duration of treatment.
Remember to respect the conditions of use and storage in order to benefit from all the benefits of the artichoke.
To take advantage of the benefits of the artichoke, you can also consume it in liquid form: in syrup to dilute or in an ampoule.
These two options are very effective if you want to improve your digestive comfort, detoxify your liver or drain your body, in case of water retention for example.
It is also possible to dry the artichoke leaves and then infuse them in hot water, or opt for a ready-to-use artichoke infusion.
Of course, the artichoke is eaten like a vegetable, it can be eaten hot or cold, as a starter, or as a main course.
As a cold starter, it can simply be served with a vinaigrette, lemon sauce, or mayonnaise.
As an aperitif, you can also prepare an artichoke spread with parmesan.
As a dish, the artichoke goes very well with pasta and risotto dishes.
It can also be incorporated into a quiche, roasted in the oven, or stuff like tomatoes, peppers, or zucchini!
To sum up, the artichoke can be eaten in many ways, even if it can be a bit confusing when you don’t know it!
NB: Once the leaves have been tasted, and before consuming the artichoke stock, remove the small fibres, called “hay”.
How to choose an artichoke?
Don’t be fooled by its flower appearance, the artichoke is indeed an edible vegetable.
To consume the artichoke and get all its benefits, of course, you should not wait for its beautiful purple flower to develop.
Indeed, when the leaves of the artichoke, or bracts, are fully open, it means that the artichoke is already very ripe.
Its consumption will therefore be unsatisfactory.
To choose an artichoke, the bracts must be tight, hard, and brittle.
They should have a nice green or purple color, depending on the variety of artichokes.
The plant should not have small black spots.
You can also find new artichokes, or baby artichokes because they are small in size.
Unlike the classic artichoke, they can be eaten raw and their stems are edible.
Take advantage of it because the season for new artichokes is very occasional!
In France, the artichoke is harvested in spring and early summer.
You will find them on the stalls of your market from April to August approximately.
If you have your own vegetable garden, you must plant your artichokes in the fall, in order to harvest them the following spring.
How to properly store the artichoke?
Like many vegetables, the artichoke can be kept in the refrigerator for a few days.
Do not wash it right away and place it in a damp and tightly closed storage bag to preserve the plant well.
If your artichoke still has its stem, you can also store it in the refrigerator in a container half filled with water.
You can also cook the artichoke and then eat it a little longer, especially if you want to eat it cold afterward.
Finally, the artichoke leaves can be stored in the freezer.
To do this, remove them from the plant and boil them for a few minutes.
Before putting the leaves in the freezer (in a freezer bag for example), remember to dry them well and wait for them to cool completely.
Should we favor the artichoke heart?
It is true that the artichoke heart is the most frequently eaten part, but the leaves are just as edible!
They also contain many active ingredients and are therefore bursting with benefits.
You don’t have to favor one part of the artichoke over another, choose the one you like, or eat both!
The artichoke is a flower vegetable bursting with benefits for the body. Its mode of preservation can be fragile, but it can be consumed in various ways, so it is impossible to waste it and get tired of it!
The spring season is opening its doors, so don’t forget it, it will only do you good!