The artichoke: nutritious, healing thistle

April 5, 2019

 

The artichoke is yet another vegetable that appears to be healthy for male and female hormones, thyroid health, and nutrient absorption. This cannot be said for many other "vegetables." The artichoke is low in anti-nutrients and contains some powerful healthy, healing benefits.

 

The artichoke is a thistle. Thistles are often mentioned in the Bible - though usually in a bad light:

 

Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee…

 

Job 31:40 Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley…

 

Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

 

In general, thistles and thorns are a curse. Yet, the rose also has thorns, though they are also good for beauty, as well as for food (rosehips contain valuable vitamin C, etc.). Likewise, many healthy, citrus fruit trees have thorns.

 

Salt is likewise a curse upon fertile land in the Bible:

 

Deuteronomy 29:23 And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah...
24 Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?

 

Judges 9:45 And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.

 

Yet, the Lord Jesus teaches that a little salt is good as a seasoning (Luke 14:34). The point is that having some salt (true salt) on our food is healthy. But no one wants to be turned into salt! And no one wants it poured all over the land that is used for growing crops. In the same way, certain thistles can have healthy benefits.

 

The artichoke was cultivated by the Greeks, Romans, etc. Wild relatives of the cultivated artichoke are often seen growing in Bible lands. It was reportedly used by the ancient Jews:

 

"Ancient Jews used the juice of artichokes, mixed with milk."
(Science in the Kitchen, 1893)

 

"Dr. Post mentions in his most valuable paper that Globe Artichokes are cultivated in Palestine. This is the case at Jerusalem, especially in the gardens of the King's Dale at Siloam. But they are also indigenous on the great Plain of Sharon, where I was so fortunate as to see them growing in July, 1859, by millions…The name 'artichoke' is adopted by us from the native appellation (Ard-i-shok), 'thorn of the ground.' This name leads one to think that the Globe Artichoke, as well as many others of our vegetables and flowers, was brought to this country from Palestine…"

(Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute, 1889)

 

At one time, in England, artichokes were a costly royal dainty, and have been used throughout history to keep hormones healthy!:

 

"The first sprouts of artichoke-leaves, being sodden in good broth, with butter, do not only nourish, but also mightily stir up the lust of the body both of men and women; the young heads of them, eaten raw with pepper and salt, do the like…certain it is they are of great nourishment…"

(Thomas Moffett, Health's Improvement, 1746)

 

Notice some of the amazing health benefits of the artichoke:

 

"Artichoke history springs from the Mediterranean, with a surge in popularity in the 1500s after having waned following the fall of Rome…Cooked artichoke leaves can be used individually as 'artichips'…The hearts are great sliced up as a pizza topping or in stir-fries… artichoke ranks No. 7 on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) top 20 antioxidant-rich foods list. Depending on which list you look at, artichokes are nearly always in the top 10 most antioxidant-rich foods…While the luteolin in artichokes reduce cholesterol, which can contribute to plaque formation in your arteries, it also increases eNOS activity, the enzyme responsible for producing nitric oxide, which acts to widen your blood vessels for decreased blood pressure…Artichokes contain 107 micrograms of folic acid in every serving, which is more than a quarter of the DRI…One study showed that properties in artichoke can cause programmed cell death in cancer cells, called apoptosis, halt the formation of new cancer cells and in breast cancer cells, may inhibit their ability to divide without harming normal cells…One comprehensive review on artichokes began by saying that artichoke leaf extract was one of the few herbal remedies where both 'clinical and experimental trials have complemented each other.' While deemed inconclusive in 2015, the study asserted that mentioning the artichoke's digestive and bowel advantages were justified, and that eating it helped to accelerate 'gut movement,' and supported both fat digestion and vitamin absorption…Health Fitness Revolution notes: 'Oats, step aside. Prunes? Yeah right. Artichoke wears the crown for highest natural fiber content of any vegetable and over most grains…'…"

(Mercola)

 

"This fantastic vegetable is not only tasty, but comes armed with a barrage of potent, healthful and cancer-fighting nutrients…globe artichoke, cynara scolymus, is the immature flower of a thistle plant and one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world… While artichokes may not be the easiest food to consume, the sheer volume of nutrients, minerals and phytochemicals found in this extraordinary vegetable make eating them well worth it. Most people's favourite part of the artichoke is the heart, but the leaves are actually the source of the vast majority of its health benefits. In clinical studies, artichoke leaf extract has been proven to have potent disease-fighting and anti-ageing properties…Artichokes are packed with phytonutrients such as quercetin, rutin, gallic acid and cynarin, which all help to protect against many health risks including cancer, heart disease, liver dysfunction, high cholesterol and diabetes…it helps digest fatty foods and ease indigestion…The high concentration of cynarin in artichokes not only affects cholesterol, but can also improve digestive health. Cynarin is known to stimulate the production of bile, which enables us to digest fats and absorb vitamins from our food…In a study at the University of Reading, England, 208 adults who suffered from IBS and dyspepsia were monitored over a two-month period of treatment with artichoke leaf extract. Results showed a 26.4 per cent reduction in IBS incidence among the participants at the end of the trial…Bile produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder is what helps us digest fats and remove dangerous toxins. Cynarin in artichokes boosts bile production…In research at Comenius University in Slovakia, artichoke leaf extract was studied for its ability to inhibit growth of leukaemia cells. Over a 24-hour period, leukaemia cells were treated with a variety of concentrations of artichoke leaf extract, with results suggesting that it slows down the reproduction of the leukaemia cells while inducing apoptosis of these cells as well…In addition, researchers at the University of Georg-August in Germany have found that the many phytochemicals in artichokes help to block the secretion of cancer agents, thus inhibiting the growth of cancer cells…"

(Independent.ie, "The health benefits of miracle artichoke," April 3, 2019)

 

"After 4 weeks of treatment, the animals were killed and their gonads were removed for histological examination. As expected, the seminiferous tubules and Leydig cells were damaged by cadmium…Artichoke extract exerted a clear protective effect against Cd-induced testicular damage…"
(Biol Trace Elem Res. 2007 Oct)

 

"…recently, consumer demand for artichokes has increased because of their reputation as a health food due to their nutritional and phytochemical composition (Guida et al., 2013)…Artichoke is also employed for hyperlipidemia (Heidarian, Soofiniya, & Hajihosseini, 2011; Heidarian & Soofiniya, 2011; Joy & Haber, 2007; Wider, Pittler, Thompson, Coon, & Ernst, 2009), diuresis, diabetes, hypertension, anemia, diarrhea, fevers, ulcers, and gout (European Medicines Agency, 2011)."
(Phytotherapy Research, Volume33, Issue 1, January 2019)

 

"Globe artichoke is widely considered to be a rich source of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, inulin, anthocyanins, fibre, and essential minerals, to which the therapeutic properties of the species have been ascribed. Inter alia, it has been used as a choleretic, an inhibitor of cholesterol biosynthesis, an anti-atherosclerotic, and for its anti-bacterial, anti-HIV, bile-expelling, hepatoprotective, urinative, anti-oxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties."

("Globe artichoke – a vegetable, herb and ornamental of value in central Europe," Nov 7, 2015)

 

"Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the fructans found in artichokes. Fructan is a type of soluble fiber that can help increase the number of probiotic bacteria in the digestive tract while slowing the blood sugar spikes. The study found that the fructans found in artichokes did not spike the blood glucose levels and insulin levels when compared to fructose…Artichoke are also a rich source of vitamin C… Artichokes contain compounds called anthocyanins, pigment molecules that may be linked to proper cognitive function. Anthocyanins may guard against ailments of the brain and mental function that often come with age. Fresh artichoke is also an excellent source of folate, providing about 68 µg per 100 g (17% of recommended daily allowance). Folate is essential for preserving memory, emotional health, and other brain diseases, helping prevent Alzheimer's disease, depression, and Age-Related Macular Degeneration…"

(Dovemed.com, June 4, 2018)

 

How do they taste? It is ironic that artichokes may one day be used to make food and beverages taste sweet! They contain properties that can make even plain water taste sweet after they are eaten!

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