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Gut health: the benefits of artichokes

Our Nutrition Editor, Eve Kalinik, takes a mouthwatering bite out of the handsome artichoke, and gets to the heart of its benefits

by Psychologies

Artichoke

4 minute read

With their distinctive shape, vibrant green hue and a heart encased in violet-trimmed petals, globe artichokes are beautiful in appearance and flavour. A member of the thistle family, we eat the immature flower bud that would otherwise flourish into a purple bloom.

Artichokes have a number of health benefits in that they contain vital antioxidants, such as quercetin and rutin, which help the body mitigate free radicals and support healthy cellular turnover. They also contain a substance called cynarin, which may support liver health and stimulates the production of bile to better aid digestion. Artichokes also provide a high source of fibre that has gut benefits, feeding the microbiome to keep things moving along, as well as helping them produce anti-inflammatory substances. Artichokes are a decent source of iron, which we need for energy and the immune system, so they are a good option for those on a plant-based diet. They also contain good sources of vitamin K, which has a crucial role in cardiovascular health.

While they are pretty, artichokes can be a bit intimidating to prepare. But persevere because they are well worth the effort. Rinse the artichoke well, then trim two inches from the top and cut the stem. You can steam, boil or bake them. I like the latter, with butter, fresh lemon juice and seasoning. To eat, peel away each of the leaves to enjoy the delicious flesh of the heart. As you get closer to the heart, you will see a fuzzy top layer (the choke) surrounding it – don’t eat that.

Another way to enjoy artichokes is by removing the leaves for an appetiser, and slicing the hearts with grated Parmesan (or any hard cheese) and fresh thyme to serve with organic chicken thighs or pan-fried sea bass. They can also be sliced through salad leaves and fresh herbs as a delicious side dish. With a crisp white wine highlighting their flavour, the ways in which to enjoy artichokes are abundant.

Read more from Eve Kalinik here.

Image: Getty

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