By Garry Messick
What you need to know
Artichokes make an excellent addition to a healthy diet, improving digestion, blood pressure/vascular health and cholesterol levels.
The artichoke is a type of thistle—a part of the daisy family—that originates in the Mediterranean area. It has been cultivated as an edible vegetable for nearly 2,000 years, and perhaps longer.
The portion of the artichoke that we eat consists of flower buds that haven’t yet bloomed and the heart, from which the buds spring.
Artichokes aren’t common in Asia, but are often found in the cuisine of the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. They also have some noteworthy health benefits.
The phytonutrients present in artichokes provide a boost to digestive health by stimulating the production of bile, which in turn enables the digestion of fats and absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D.1
Blood Pressure and Vascular Health
Artichoke leaf extract boosts the activity of eNOS (endothelial nitric oxide synthase). This enzyme produces nitric oxide, which has the effect of widening blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improving endothelial function.2
Research going back decades shows that artichokes and artichoke leaf extract are linked to reduced cholesterol levels.
A randomized, placebo-controlled study conducted over a six-week period found that subjects who consumed artichoke leaf extract ended up with an 18.5% reduction in cholesterol as compared with those who received a placebo.3
- Available at: https://www.herbwisdomcom/herb-artichoke.html. Accessed March 27, 2018.
- J Diet Suppl. 2009;6(4):328-41.
- Arzneimittelforschung. 2000;50(3):260-5.