Despite its odd, even slightly alien-like appearance, artichoke nutrition is valuable and some would say vital to a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Artichokes are native to countries around the Mediterranean, they have been a highly prized commodity since ancient Greek times. Romans valued artichokes so highly they exported and cultivated them around the empire after conquering new territories.
The Greeks started to grow globe artichokes in Sicily, they domesticated the plant and improved its taste and texture; wild artichokes could be a bit harsh and unpleasant. Cultivation of the globe artichoke continued in Spain while it was under Muslim rule during medieval times. Wild artichokes can still be found in some parts of North Africa.
Artichokes were introduced into England by the Dutch in the mid 16th century, and to Louisiana and California in the US in early 19th century.
In the 15th century, the aphrodisiac qualities of artichokes were identified, and with this women were banned from eating them (makes sense), being reserved only for men. Thankfully attitudes have loosened somewhat, and everyone can enjoy the stimulating benefits globe artichokes.
Instinct drove early man to eat this brightly coloured uninviting flower, as usual instinct was right. Today we know artichokes are packed with vitamins, mineral and phytochemical, back them they just made people feel better.
The makeup of individual elements contained within the flower makes artichokes particularly useful for those with liver issues. Cynarin and silymarin contain antioxidants that stimulate tissue regrowth and cell regeneration in the liver. The exact balance and makeup of these compounds are of interest to scientists.
In ancient times artichokes were fed to those who were suffering from a loss of appetite, again early instincts were right, we know today that cynarine does stimulate the appetite, as well as making all foods consumed shortly afterwards taste sweeter.
An average artichoke weights about 120g and contains in no particular order the following nutrients:
As well as many more mineral elements, trace minerals and omega -3 & 6 essential fatty acids, while containing zero fat and no cholesterol.
Combined with all this vitamin and mineral goodness artichokes contain only 60 calories. The anomaly of this potent flower isn't dissectible into any individual element, it is the balanced and makeup of all the elements combined that seems to make them have such a healing impact on the body.
There is a consensus that because artichokes are so packed full of vitamins and antioxidants, that eating them regularly may contribute to the prevention of some cancers and diseases, especially cirrhosis of the liver.
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