Artichokes are among the oldest vegetables cultivated by humans. Their uses, both culinary and medicinal, are mentioned by one of Aristotle’s disciples in the 4th century BC. Apparently, they were already used for digestive problems by the aristocracy of ancient Rome. They became especially popular when, in the 19th century, a French doctor successfully used artichoke leaf extract to treat jaundice. Since then, began to study their properties and use extracts prepared from them for digestive ailments, especially liver.
Artichoke for the liver – how does it work?
Artichokes are valued primarily for their beneficial effect on the liver and bile ducts. This is mainly due to cynarine – a substance that is created during the extraction of artichoke. Previous studies have shown that first of all, it has hepatoprotective properties, so it protects the liver from damage, and at the same time promotes its regeneration. It also has a cholagogic, cholepoietic, and diuretic effect, cleansing the body of toxins and improving digestion. Thanks to cynarine, the level of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood decreases, which may be important in the prevention of atherosclerosis.
Artichoke properties – why else should we eat it?
In addition to the positive impact on the work of liver and bile ducts, artichokes have other properties beneficial to our health. Although they are not record-holders when it comes to the content of vitamins and minerals. We can find in them mainly valuable for women (especially future mothers) vitamin B9, that is folic acid, vitamin K and vitamin C, as well as sodium, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
However, they are valued for their high content of antioxidants (especially chlorogenic acid) – compounds that contribute to slowing down the body’s aging processes. According to a report published by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture, which deals, among others, with education on healthy eating), artichokes can be counted among the top vegetables richest in these substances. In addition, as reported by researchers, the content of antioxidants in artichokes does not decrease, and even increases under the influence of heat treatment.
The treasure of artichokes is also inulin – a substance of the polysaccharides group. This substance is one of the natural prebiotics, allowing to increase the content of beneficial bacteria (mainly bifidobacteria) in our intestines. Because it is low in calories and contributes to the regulation of blood sugar levels, it is used in the diet of people with diabetes. In addition, studies show that it has an anti-atherosclerotic effect by lowering the concentration of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Artichokes for beauty – weight loss and acne
Recently, artichoke juice, i.e. artichoke leaf extract dissolved in water, has become quite popular among people taking care of their weight. Its main advantage is the high content of cynarine. Since this substance improves digestion, including intestinal peristalsis, and supports cleansing of the body, many people use it as a weight loss aid.
Artichoke extracts are sometimes also included in cosmetics. Due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is used for example in preparations designed for skin with various imperfections, especially acne skin care.