We’re all aware that eating your vegetables is important. But did you know that some provide a number of health benefits that can help prevent serious health conditions down the line? Enter: artichokes.
You’re probably familiar with artichokes when you order dip at a restaurant, but this vegetable is worth adding to your plate for more reasons than one. Research suggests that having artichokes in your diet can help lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar levels, and even ward off fatty liver and conditions that can arise from it.
In one review of studies, researchers analyzed the effect that artichoke extract had on cholesterol. Results showed that supplementing with artichoke extract for five to 13 weeks resulted in lower overall cholesterol and bad “LDL” cholesterol. Another study showed that artichoke leaf extract lowered overall cholesterol as much as 18 percent, and LDL cholesterol as much as 22 percent. Results from one animal study suggest that artichoke may also help lower triglycerides! Experts say that this is for two reasons. One is they contain an antioxidant called luteolin, which prevents the formation of cholesterol. Artichokes are also known to help your body efficiently process cholesterol, leading to lower levels in your blood.
Another impressive benefit of artichoke is that they may help those with digestive issues. Artichokes promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut because they contain inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber. They also contain cynarin, a compound that stimulates bile production and improves the digestion of fats. One study found that consuming artichoke extract for three weeks resulted in improved gut bacteria in subjects. Other research showed that taking artichoke extract drastically improved symptoms of indigestion like gas and bloating when compared with a placebo.
What’s more, artichoke may also help with IBS and it’s associated symptoms. In a study done on subjects with IBS, taking artichoke extract daily for six weeks reported less symptoms. In fact, 96 percent of them even reported the extract to be equally as effective as — and even better than — other IBS treatments, like laxatives and antidiarrheals. Results from another study showed that overall quality of life was improved and symptoms reduced by 26 percent in subjects with IBS who were given artichoke extract!
And when it comes to the liver, artichokes may help you keep yours in check. The liver is one of the bodies most important detox organs, and when it becomes overloaded, health conditions like obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome can arise.
Studies show that compounds in artichoke may protect the liver from toxic overload and encourage the growth of new, healthy tissue. In one study on subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, taking artichoke extract every day for two months resulted in improved liver function. Other research done on obese adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease showed that taking artichoke extract daily for two months reduced liver inflammation and decreased fat deposition. Scientists suggest that this is probably because of the compounds cynarin and silymarin.
Adding artichokes to your plate is a great way to enjoy these health-boosting benefits. Try steaming them or adding artichoke hearts to a salads. Check out this recipe for some inspiration!
All that being said, you can increase the benefits of artichoke by taking a concentrated supplement. Taking artichoke extract is generally considered safe, but as always, get your doctors OK before trying any new supplement regimen. For a product we love, try this one from Nature’s Way ($10.75, Amazon).