Lowering your cholesterol with Globe artichokes

Superfood: Globe Artichoke, benefit for the liver and elimination of fat soluble toxins

I would consider Globe artichoke and Jerusalem artichoke as a superfood. I am going to talk about the Globe artichoke as I am a bit biased with this vegetable, as I love it and I am Italian, which makes me a bit biased towards it as in Italy we use this vegetable a lot. Artichoke was considered a vegetable for the Emperor and the wealthy at the Roman times, as it was one of the most expensive vegetable (Murray). The benefit of this vegetable is a long list, the most of them are all connected to the liver and detox of fat soluble toxins through the stools.

It is a good non-soluble fibre to have, as the friendly bacteria will use what you do not eat and make fuel for the intestinal cells to repair its lining. The bitter taste of the vegetable is a stimulant for the liver.

In Italy, it has been converted to a liquor, so it has two benefits there, you can use it as a acholic drink, if you like that, and you can help the digestion of your heavy fatty meal. Many Italians use this liquor almost every day.

Now as usual when something is good and there are lots of studies proving that is good, the science and the pharmaceutical companies takes it and decide that it is their property. There are many scientific papers showing the benefit of the artichoke vegetables and supplements in regenerating the liver cells as well. As you know it is important for the liver cells to be healthy and have fuel to regenerate as well.

The liver is one of the most important organ in our body, after the heart. Without the liver detoxing everything from inside and from outside of your body (through the intestine), you would be a body full of rubbish and oxidation. Your body would be in a mess in a nutshell!

Now the scientific bits and why is artichoke so good for you:

The Latin name of the vegetable is Cynara scolymus (Murray).

Nutritional Benefits:

Globe artichoke is full of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fibre. A great combination for a whole around healthy food. The nutrients that it contains are:

  • Minerals such as: Magnesium, chromium, potassium and manganese.
  • Good source of vitamin C, flavonoids and other antioxidants.
  • Good source of B vitamins such as niacin, riboflavin’s, thiamine, folic acid, biotin.
  • Vitamin A
  • A medium size Globe artichoke provides about 4.2 g of protein, 11.2 g of carbohydrate and about 5.4 g of fibres!

The beneficial amount of fibre that is recommended to eat is about 100 to 170g of fibre per day. This can be achieved with eating few artichokes, plus about 3 to 5 fruits, and some other green leafy vegetables, this can include beetroots as well.

The benefit of dietary fibre are (Murray):

  • They decrease intestinal transit time (This is the time that the food goes from the mouth to the anus, is greatly reduces, which it means that toxins are eliminated quickly and not reabsorbed into the blood stream due to a longer transit time or constipation).
  • Fermentation of dietary fibre by the intestinal friendly bacteria produces 3 types of short chain fatty acids: Proprionic, butyric and acetic acid. The butyric acid is used by the colon cells to repair. Propionate and Acetate are transported directly to the liver and used for energy production.
  • Increase satiety (which it means you do not get angry straight after your meals)
  • Increase pancreatic secretion (digestive juice and enzymes to digest your food properly)
  • Increase stool weight (cellulose find in the leaf of artichoke, are water-insoluble fibres, which increase water in stools, or hold more water, hence easily eliminated, as well as getting rid of fat soluble toxins, including old hormones, faster).
  • Decrease serum lipid (lower the excess cholesterol and other lipids that needs to be excreted)
  • More soluble bile (so prevention of gall bladder stones)

Also, artichoke can be very beneficial for people suffering of hypoglycaemia and diabetes, as it contains inulin, a polysaccharide (type of sugary starch, that is not used by body, therefore does not raise blood sugar level.

VERY IMPORTANT the artichoke needs to be as fresh as possible as inulin is converted into the other non- healthy sugar with time (Murray).

Systemic health benefit: (Murray; Colak, Arrigo)

  • Liver (mainly the benefit is from the leaves of the artichoke, regenerating and protecting liver cells, hence eating the leaves is healthier). Antimicrobial and antioxidant property in the liver as well.
  • Bile flow (the leaves also promote the bile and fat flow to and from the liver).
  • Colon (non-soluble fibre, which retain more water and hence more faecal weight)
  • Reduction of the bad cholesterol, hence benefit to the Heart
  • Repair of the intestinal tract, via good bacteria eating the non-soluble fibre.

It has been shown to reduce cholesterol in a double blind, cross-over, randomized trial, which it means it is beneficial for the health of the heart.

Two simple Cooking suggestions.

  1. Wash the vegetable well, cut the tip of the artichoke, which is the pointiest place, then add inside of the artichoke a bit of garlic, salt if you like and parsley and cooked it or steam it with a quarter of water for about 20 minutes or as it looks tender. You include the stem as well, you can cut the stem in few pieces and boil it with the water. You can add lemon and pepper or chilly if you like more taste. The vegetable is bitter, and it is this bitterness that is important to heal and support the liver detox and the cells regeneration.

 

  1. Alternative way of cooking it is cutting out all the outside leaves till you get to the heart of the artichoke and either you cut the heart and cook it with eggs, such as an omelette, or dip the hearts into the eggs and flower and fry or oven bake them with a little bit of oil. Very tasty as well, however nutritionally would be better to eat the entire vegetable. You could also cook in water the leaves that you discard and then add a bit of salt, oil and pepper and scratch the leaves with your teeth.

 Reference:

  1. Arrigo F., et al (2016). Effects of a combined nutraceutical on lipid Pattern, Glucose Metabolism and Inflammatory Parameters, in Moderately Hypercholesterolemic subjects: a double-blind, cross-over, randomized clinical trial. High Blood Press Cradiovasc Prev. 24 (1): 13-18.
  2. Murray M. et al (2005). The Encyclopaedia of Healing Foods. Atria. Toronto
  3. Colak E. et al (2016). The hepatocurative effects of Cynara scolymus L. Leaf extract on carbon tetrachloride-induced oxidative stress and hepatic injury in rats. 5:216

(c) copyright Maria Esposito BSc (Hons) Nutritional therapist – R-Craniosacral Therapist – NAET

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