The artichoke, thanks to its cynarin, is a very powerful antioxidant with a detox action. Source of fiber, it stimulates intestinal transit and increases the sense of satiety.
An edible flower belonging to the Asteraceae family, the artichoke, whose scientific name is Cynara Scolymus, is one of the most powerful antioxidants present in nature and, if included in a healthy and balanced diet, is a health ally for the its diuretic, tonic and detoxifying properties. We can find it from November to May.
- Thing contains
- Properties for health
- How to prepare it
The strength of the artichoke is the presence of cynarin, an alkaloid present in the leaves that determines the bitter taste, the main responsible for its purifying effects.
It is also rich in potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, calcium and vitamins and is one of the largest sources of soluble fiber, with 4.86g per 100g of edible portion when cooked. In particular, it is rich in inulin, a water-soluble fiber capable of forming a protective gel on the villi of the small intestine and of carrying out an effective probiotic action in the colon.
Properties for health
- A cure-all for the liver. Thanks to its cynarin, the artichoke promotes the production and secretion of bile and, together with the other main active components contained in it, has a proven antioxidant action, protecting the liver from oxidation processes.
- Friend of the intestine. Its fibers, which arrive undigested in the colon, are used as nourishment by the “good” bacteria in the intestinal microbiota, promoting their growth. This results in better digestion. Furthermore, by helping to positively modulate the functionality of the microbiota, it is also useful for strengthening the immune system. Finally, the fibers stimulate intestinal transit, helping us to keep the intestine clean and weight under control.
- Ally of the diet. And, speaking of weight, the artichoke – if taken in the context of a healthy diet (read here how to insert it correctly in the diet) can boast slimming virtues: one portion (200 g) in fact provides only 44 Kcal. Its inulin also helps to reduce the intestine’s ability to absorb sugars and fats, helping not to raise the blood sugar too quickly, and in addition it satisfies a lot.
- A reserve of iron. Anemic people can benefit from artichoke due to its high presence in iron: it contains 1 mg of it for every 100 g of edible part, especially if consumed cooked.
- Good for the heart. Thanks to the richness in minerals such as potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, its intake contributes to the reduction of the concentrations of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, in favor of “good” cholesterol (HDL).
- A must for bone health. Within the plant world, artichokes are excellent sources of calcium 172 mg per serving (200g), a mineral that must be adequate throughout the life period, but in particular during the growth phase to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis in senile age.
- Important in pregnancy. Artichokes then, like all dark green leafy vegetables, are sources of high quantities of folic acid, a fundamental vitamin for the correct development of organs and in particular of the neural tube, from which a large part of our nervous system will be formed.
How to prepare it
Thanks to its sodium content (up to 140 mg per 100 g of product), the artichoke turns out to be a naturally savory food, a characteristic that allows you to use few condiments to flavor it (generally oil, lemon juice and aromatic herbs such as parsley or fresh mint).
The properties of the vegetable also change depending on the cooking methods. For a purifying action it is good to consume it cooked in oil or raw cut very thin and seasoned with oil, salt and lemon (boiling, on the other hand, would lose a large part of the cynarin, which passes into solution and is eliminated). In this way, an intense draining stimulus is obtained on the liver, which also increases diuresis considerably, giving rise to an extraordinary purifying effect on the body. Fried, like the artichoke alla giudia, instead helps to reduce abdominal swelling and improves digestive function.
The artichoke lends itself to numerous preparations in the kitchen. Excellent sauce for pasta, especially if combined with eggs as in artichoke carbonara, it can help to create a very tasty single dish. Also perfect for an artichoke risotto or a very fragrant artichoke pasta.
But it is as a side dish that a unique ingredient is revealed: baked au gratin is crunchy and tasty; alla veneta is light and tasty, perfect if you are following a weight loss diet.
Also delicious fried in batter or added to bread and garlic for magnificent artichoke meatballs.