5 Health Benefits of Artichokes

Not only are they delicious, but artichokes are also a great source of fiber and support overall health.

Artichokes are beautiful green plants that are full of nutrients. But like Brussels sprouts, they're somewhat of an underdog among vegetables. In fact, according to the International Fresh Produce Association, artichokes did not even make the list of the 20 most commonly sold vegetables in the United States in 2021. (Brussels sprouts didn't either.)

However, you might want to snag a few of these tasty plants during your next trip to the grocery store. Artichokes are a great source of fiber—which promotes bowel regularity and helps maintain weight—and are full of vitamins and antioxidants that support your cardiovascular and immune systems.

Here are five ways that artichokes can make a difference in your health and how you can incorporate them into meals.

Several artichokes displayed on a pink background.
Yulia Reznikov / Getty Images

Good Source of Fiber

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one medium-sized artichoke packs nearly seven grams of fiber, about one-third of the average daily value.

Consuming the recommended daily value of fiber helps manage weight and promotes regular bowel movements. Per MedlinePlus, an online information resource from the National Library of Medicine, fiber also plays a key role in regulating blood sugar and insulin levels, which is especially important for people with diabetes. It also nourishes gut bacteria, which positively boosts your immunity and mood and decreases inflammation.

Wealth of Nutrients and Antioxidants

Per the USDA, one medium-sized artichoke also provides nearly 20% of the average daily values of folate and vitamin K, as well as about 10% of the recommended daily values of vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

  • A lack of folate may cause a high risk of depression and memory problems.
  • Vitamin K, which helps clot blood properly, also aids bone formation, according to MedlinePlus. Not enough vitamin K may increase your risk of bone fractures.
  • The National Institutes of Health reports that vitamin C, which acts as an age-fighting antioxidant, is essential for boosting immunity and producing collagen.
  • Magnesium fights depression, boosts learning and memory, and improves sleep. And a high magnesium intake improves strength and oxygen uptake, produces energy, and balances electrolytes.
  • Like vitamins C and K, manganese produces collagen and supports bone health.
  • Potassium supports heart function, aids muscle contractions, and regulates blood pressure.

Artichokes also supply your body with a significant amount of antioxidants, which protect cells from premature aging and dysfunction. They also curb any cell damage and support recovery after exercise.

Blood Pressure Regulator

In a study published in 2021 in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, researchers found that, among people with high blood pressure, 12 weeks of consuming artichokes significantly reduced their blood pressure.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), high blood pressure—also known as hypertension—increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, which are two of the leading causes of death in the U.S.

Promotor of Liver Health

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in the U.S., according to MedlinePlus. Healthy eating, managing your weight, and staying active can help prevent NAFLD.

But artichoke leaf extract—a concentrated amount of substances found in artichokes, typically available in powder or tablet forms—may also play a role. In a study published in 2018 in the journal Phytotherapy Research, researchers conducted a trial that included 100 people with NAFLD.

The participants were randomly assigned to take either 600 milligrams of artichoke leaf extract daily or a placebo for two months. Compared to the people assigned placebos, those assigned the artichoke leaf extract reported improvements in liver size and blood markers. The extract also reduced their total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (commonly known as "bad" cholesterol), and triglyceride levels.

Provider of Protective Prebiotics

The green artichokes you may see at the grocery store are globe artichokes. But another type of artichoke, completely unrelated to the usual green plant, is Jerusalem artichokes.

Unlike globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes do not have green skin and toothy leaves. In fact, they look nothing like globe artichokes. They are related to sunflowers, sometimes known as sunchokes. You can eat those tubers—which look like a cross between white potatoes and ginger root—raw or cooked. They are a great source of inulin and provide prebiotics.

Inulin helps absorb important minerals, including calcium and magnesium, and supports the synthesis of B vitamins. According to a study published in 2014 in the journal Biotechnology Reports, inulin also helps prevent certain cancers, like breast and colorectal cancers.

And prebiotics feed beneficial gut bacteria that aid digestive health, immunity, and mood.

That does not mean that you should skip out on globe artichokes during your next trip to the grocery store. They contain some inulin, too. Although, the amount of inulin is higher in Jerusalem artichokes than in others.

How To Roast Artichokes

When buying artichokes, look for ones that have a heavy feel and firm, tightly packed leaves. A telltale sign of freshness is if the leaves make a little squeaking sound when you rub them.

You don't need to be a skilled chef to cook artichokes, which isn't necessarily difficult. However, the cooking time for artichokes is longer than for other vegetables. To start, lay a washed artichoke on its side on a cutting board and chop off the top inch and a half. Next, cut off the stem. Place the trimmed artichoke in a bowl. Drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon to prevent browning.

Then, gently pull the leaves outward from the center, drizzle avocado oil into the crevices, and push a peeled clove of garlic into the center. Sprinkle the vegetable with kosher salt, transfer to foil, and pour over any juices from the bowl. Double wrap the artichoke in foil and place it in an oven-safe dish. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and then bake the artichoke for about one hour and 20 minutes.

Once the artichoke is cooled enough to handle, open it up, take out the garlic, and pull off the purple-tipped inner leaves. Next, use the edge of a spoon to remove and toss the fuzzy, fibrous, inedible section (also known as the choke), which covers the prized artichoke heart.

To eat, pull off the outer leaves and either enjoy it as is or dip it into hummus, pesto, or seasoned tahini. However, the whole leaf isn't edible. Scrape off the tender part with your teeth and discard the tough outer section. Finally, enjoy the delicious heart as it is or with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

How To Eat More Artichokes

In addition to roasting your artichokes, you can purchase ready-to-eat globe artichoke hearts in the produce section of many grocery stores. They are also available frozen, jarred, and canned. Eat them as a side dish or add them to omelets, salads, pasta, tacos, and more.

As for Jerusalem artichokes, you can eat them in ways similar to jicama. Grate, thinly slice, or cut them into matchsticks to eat raw, add to salads, or pair with dip. You can also steam, boil, or roast them or incorporate them into soup.

Keep in mind that both globe and Jerusalem artichokes are high FODMAP foods. (FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, all of which are types of sugars.) These foods may trigger digestive issues—including bloating in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, canned artichokes hearts are fine in half-cup portions or less.

So, if they don't upset your stomach, try eating globe or Jerusalem artichokes a few times per month or more. Apart from their benefits, they offer a simple way to add variety in terms of flavor, texture, and color to your plate.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health's contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a private practice performance nutritionist who has consulted for five professional sports teams.

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