The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is one of the oldest known cultivated vegetables, originating from Ethiopia, with Italy currently being the world’s largest producer. It was valued in ancient Greece and Rome as a digestive aid, available only to the wealthy due to its scarcity.
It was the French and Spanish explorers who first brought artichokes to the shores of the United States, and today virtually all of the globe artichokes grown in the US are produced in Castroville, California.
Nutrients in Artichokes
Globe artichokes are an excellent source of dietary fiber, magnesium, and the trace mineral chromium. They are a very good source of Vitamin C, folic acid, biotin, and the trace mineral manganese. They are a good source of niacin, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamin A, and potassium.
Benefits from Artichokes
The artichoke has strong choleretic activity (promotes bile secretion in the liver), and choleretics increase the excretion of cholesterol and decrease the manufacture of cholesterol in the liver.
In a trial involving 208 adults, results provide support for the notion that artichoke leaf extract has potential value in relieving irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.
In a double-blind trial, 247 patients with dyspepsia (digestive problems) were treated with artichoke leaf extract, and the results demonstrated an improvement in their dyspeptic symptoms. Dyspepsia is often attributed to insufficient flow of bile from the gallbladder, and there is evidence that artichoke leaf has the ability to stimulate this flow.
The artichoke plant is a member of the thistle family, and like milk thistle, it benefits the liver, protecting against toxins and infection. A Mediterranean home recipe uses fresh artichoke leaf juice mixed with wine or water as a liver tonic.