In 2004, USDA researchers measured antioxidant levels in more than 100 foods commonly consumed in the United States. The study found that beans (red kidney, pinto), cooked artichoke hearts, and Russet potatoes were tops among vegetables; however, cooked artichoke hearts were found to be the best antioxidant source among all fresh vegetables. Cooking negatively affects antioxidant content in some foods, but it has a positive effect on artichokes.
The ancients considered artichokes to have many benefits. Artichokes, including leaves, were thought to be an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a breath freshener and even a deodorant. Decoctions of artichoke leaves have been used as blood cleansers, cholerics, to improve bile production and secretion and to detox the liver and the skin.
Artichokes are nutrient dense, so, for the 25 calories in a medium artichoke, you're getting 16 essential nutrients!
Artichokes provide the important minerals magnesium, chromium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium. For example, that 25 calorie artichoke provides 6 percent of the Recommended Daily Value of phosphorus, 10 percent of magnesium, 10 percent of chromium, 5 percent of potassium, 4 percent of iron and 2 percent of calcium and iron.
Artichoke Quick Facts
- It is best to purchase artichokes from March through May.
- Choose from compact, tightly closed heads with green, clean looking leaves.
- The size of an artichoke is not related to quality.
- Avoid artichokes that have brown leaves or show signs of mold. Leaves that are separated show that the artichoke is too old and this means it will be tough and bitter.
- California is the main supplier of artichokes.
- There are 50 varieties of artichokes grown worldwide.
- A single artichoke is an unopened flower bud from a thistle like plant.
- It is best to wear rubber gloves when working with artichokes.
- Artichokes should never be cooked in aluminum pots. They tend to turn the pots a gray color.
- Artichokes will burn unless kept completely covered with water while they are cooking. However, they are easy to over cook.
- When cooking artichokes you can obtain a better flavor if you add a small amount of sugar and salt to the water. They will be sweeter and will retain their color better.
- Artichokes are low in calories and sodium, have no fat and no cholesterol.
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