Top 8 Health Benefits of Artichokes and Artichoke Extract
This plant originated in the Mediterranean and has been used for centuries for its potential medicinal properties.
Its alleged health benefits include lower blood sugar levels and improved digestion, heart health and liver health.
Artichoke extract, which contains high concentrations of compounds found in the plant, is also increasingly popular as a supplement.
Here are the top 8 health benefits of artichokes and artichoke extract.
1. Loaded With Nutrients
Artichokes are low in fat while rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Particularly high in folate and vitamins C and K, they also supply important minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and iron.
One medium artichoke contains almost 7 grams of fiber, which is a whopping 23–28% of the reference daily intake (RDI).
These delicious thistles come with only 60 calories per medium artichoke and around 4 grams of protein — above average for a plant-based food.
Artichokes are low in fat, high in fiber, and loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium. They are also one of the richest sources of antioxidants.
2. May Lower ‘Bad’ LDL Cholesterol and Increase ‘Good’ HDL Cholesterol
A large review in over 700 people found that supplementing with artichoke leaf extract daily for 5–13 weeks led to a reduction in total and "bad" LDL cholesterol (6).
One study in 143 adults with high cholesterol showed that artichoke leaf extract taken daily for six weeks resulted in an 18.5% and 22.9% decrease in total and "bad" LDL cholesterol, respectively (7).
What's more, regularly consuming artichoke extract may boost "good" HDL cholesterol in adults with high cholesterol (5).
Artichoke extract affects cholesterol in two primary ways.
First, artichokes contain luteolin, an antioxidant which prevents cholesterol formation (9).
Second, artichoke leaf extract encourages your body to process cholesterol more efficiently, leading to lower overall levels (8).
Artichoke extract may reduce total and "bad" LDL cholesterol while increasing "good" HDL cholesterol.
3. May Help Regulate Blood Pressure
Artichoke extract may aid people with high blood pressure.
One study in 98 men with high blood pressure found that consuming artichoke extract daily for 12 weeks reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure by an average of 2.76 and 2.85 mmHg, respectively (10).
How artichoke extract reduces blood pressure is not fully understood.
That said, it is unclear whether consuming whole artichokes provides the same benefits, as the artichoke extract used in these studies is highly concentrated.
Artichoke extract may help lower blood pressure in people with already elevated levels.
4. May Improve Liver Health
It also increases the production of bile, which helps remove harmful toxins from your liver (9).
In one study, artichoke extract given to rats resulted in less liver damage, higher antioxidant levels, and better liver function after an induced drug overdose, compared to rats not given artichoke extract (16).
Studies in humans also show positive effects on liver health.
For example, one trial in 90 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease revealed that consuming 600 mg of artichoke extract daily for two months led to improved liver function (17).
In another study in obese adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, taking artichoke extract daily for two months resulted in reduced liver inflammation and less fat deposition than not consuming artichoke extract (18).
Scientists think that certain antioxidants found in artichokes — cynarin and silymarin — are partly responsible for these benefits (14).
More research is needed to confirm the role of artichoke extract in treating liver disease.
Regular consumption of artichoke extract may help protect your liver from damage and help relieve symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. However, more research is needed.
5. May Improve Digestive Health
Artichokes are a great source of fiber, which can help keep your digestive system healthy by promoting friendly gut bacteria, reducing your risk of certain bowel cancers, and alleviating constipation and diarrhea (23, 24, 25).
Artichokes contain inulin, a type of fiber which acts as a prebiotic.
A study in 247 people with indigestion determined that consuming artichoke leaf extract daily for six weeks reduced symptoms, such as flatulence and uncomfortable feelings of fullness, compared to not taking artichoke leaf extract (29).
Artichoke leaf extract may maintain digestive health by boosting friendly gut bacteria and alleviating symptoms of indigestion.
6. May Ease Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects your digestive system and can cause stomach pain, cramping, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and flatulence.
In one study in people with IBS, consuming artichoke leaf extract daily for six weeks helped ease symptoms. What's more, 96% of participants rated the extract equally as effective as — if not better than — other IBS treatments, such as antidiarrheals and laxatives (19).
Another study in 208 people with IBS discovered that 1-2 capsules of artichoke leaf extract, consumed daily for two months, reduced symptoms by 26% and improved quality of life by 20% (20).
Artichoke extract may relieve symptoms in several ways.
While artichoke extract seems promising for treating IBS symptoms, larger human studies are needed.
Artichoke leaf extract may help treat IBS symptoms by reducing muscle spasms, balancing gut bacteria and reduce inflammation. However, more research is necessary.
7. May Help Lower Blood Sugar
One study in 39 overweight adults found that consuming kidney bean and artichoke extract daily for two months lowered fasting blood sugar levels compared to not supplementing (30).
However, it is unclear how much of this effect was due to the artichoke extract itself.
Another small study indicated that consuming boiled artichoke at a meal reduced blood sugar and insulin levels 30 minutes after eating. Notably, this effect was only seen in healthy adults who did not have metabolic syndrome (31).
How artichoke extract reduces blood sugar isn't fully understood.
That said, artichoke extract has been shown to slow down the activity of alpha-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose, potentially impacting blood sugar (32).
Keep in mind that more research is needed.
Some evidence suggests that artichokes and artichoke leaf extract may lower blood sugar levels. However, more research is needed.
8. May Have Anticancer Effects
For example, silymarin was found to help prevent and treat skin cancer in animal and test-tube studies (36).
Despite these promising results, no human studies exist. More research is needed.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that artichoke extract may fight the growth of cancer cells. However, no human studies exist, so more research is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
How to Add Them to Your Diet
Preparing and cooking artichokes is not as intimidating as it seems.
They can be steamed, boiled, grilled, roasted, or sautéed. You can also prepare them stuffed or breaded, adding spices and other seasonings for an extra burst of flavor.
Steaming is the most popular cooking method and usually takes 20–40 minutes, depending on the size. Alternatively, you can bake artichokes for 40 minutes at 350°F (177°C).
Keep in mind that both the leaves and the heart can be eaten.
Once cooked, the outer leaves can be pulled off and dipped in sauce, such as aioli or herb butter. Simply remove the edible flesh from the leaves by pulling them through your teeth.
Once the leaves are removed, carefully spoon out the fuzzy substance called the choke until you reach the heart. You can then scoop out the heart to eat alone or atop pizza or salad.
The edible parts of the artichoke include the outer leaves and heart. Once cooked, artichokes can be eaten hot or cold and served with different dipping sauces.
Supplement Safety and Dosing
However, there is limited data available. Risks include:
- Potential allergies: Some people may be allergic to artichokes and/or artichoke extract. The risk is higher for anyone allergic to plants from the same family, including daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums and marigolds.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to avoid artichoke extract because of a lack of safety information.
- People with bile duct obstruction or gallstones: Anyone with these conditions should avoid artichokes and artichoke extract due to their ability to promote bile movement (37).
There is currently insufficient data to establish dosing guidelines.
However, typical doses used in human research range from 300–640 mg of artichoke leaf extract three times daily (7).
If you are unsure whether you should take artichoke extract, speak with your doctor for advice.
Side effects of artichoke extract are rare, though people with bile duct disorders and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may wish to avoid it. Typical doses range from 300–640 mg three times daily.
The Bottom Line
Artichokes are an extremely nutritious, low-carb food that may provide numerous health benefits.
That said, evidence is mostly limited to studies using concentrated artichoke extract.
Regular consumption of artichoke extract may aid cholesterol levels, blood pressure, liver health, IBS, indigestion and blood sugar levels.
However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
- Beet It! 11 Nutrition-Packed Smoothies Featuring Beets - EcoWatch ›
- Top 20 Healthy Salad Toppings - EcoWatch ›
- 8 Detox Salad Recipes to Kick-Start Healthy Eating - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Mangroves play a vital role in capturing carbon from the atmosphere. Mangrove forests are tremendous assets in the fight to stem the climate crisis. They store more carbon than a rainforest of the same size.
- Protecting Mangroves Can Prevent Billions of Dollars in Global ... ›
- Could the 'Mangrove Effect' Save Coasts From Sea Level Rise ... ›
Monday is World Oceans Day, but how can you celebrate our blue planet while social distancing?
- 5 Things to Know About Earth's Warming Oceans - EcoWatch ›
- Bioluminescent Waves Mesmerize California Beachgoers, Surfers ... ›
- NOAA: 2020 Could Be Warmest Year on Record - EcoWatch ›
- On June 8, We Celebrate Our Oceans, Our Future - EcoWatch ›
- 5 Things to Know About the State of Our Oceans for World Oceans Day ›
By Jacob L. Steenwyk and Antonis Rokas
From the mythical minotaur to the mule, creatures created from merging two or more distinct organisms – hybrids – have played defining roles in human history and culture. However, not all hybrids are as fantastic as the minotaur or as dependable as the mule; in fact, some of them cause human diseases.
When Looking Through a Microscope Isn’t Close Enough.<p>For the last few years, <a href="http://www.rokaslab.org/" target="_blank">our team at Vanderbilt University</a>, <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/lab/Gustavo-Goldman-Lab" target="_blank">Gustavo Goldman's team at São Paulo University in Brazil</a> and many other collaborators around the world have been collecting samples of fungi from patients infected with different species of <em>Aspergillus</em> molds. One of the species we are particularly interested in is <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/rwgn.2001.0082" target="_blank"><em>Aspergillus nidulans</em>, a relatively common and generally harmless fungus</a>. Clinical laboratories typically identify the species of <em>Aspergillus</em> causing the infection by examining cultures of the fungi under the microscope. The problem with this approach is that very closely related species of <em>Aspergillus</em> tend to look very similar in their broad morphology or physical appearance when viewing them through a microscope.</p><p>Interested in examining the varying abilities of different <em>A. nidulans</em> strains to cause disease, we decided to analyze their total genetic content, or genomes. What we saw came as a total surprise. We had not collected <em>A. nidulans</em> but <em>Aspergillus latus</em>, a close relative of <em>A. nidulans</em> and, as we were to soon find out, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.071" target="_blank">a hybrid species that evolved through the fusion of the genomes</a> of two other <em>Aspergillus</em> species: <em>Aspergillus spinulosporus</em> and an unknown close relative of <em>Aspergillus quadrilineatus</em>. Thus, we realized not only that these patients harbored infections from an entirely different species than we thought they were, but also that this species was the first ever <em>Aspergillus</em> hybrid known to cause human infections.</p>
Several Different Fungal Hybrids Cause Human Disease.<p>Hybrid fungi that can cause infections in humans are well known to occur in several different lineages of single-celled fungi known as yeasts. Notable examples include multiple different species of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/yea.3242" target="_blank">yeast hybrids</a> that cause the human diseases <a href="https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6218/cryptococcosis" target="_blank">cryptococcosis</a> and <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/candidiasis/index.html" target="_blank">candidiasis</a>. Although pathogenic yeast hybrids are well known, our discovery that the <em>A. latus</em> pathogen is a hybrid is a first for molds that cause disease in humans.</p>
(Left) Candida yeasts live on parts of the human body. Imbalance of microbes on the body can allow these yeasts, some of which are hybrids, to grow and cause infection. (Right) Cryptococcus yeasts, including ones that are hybrids, can cause life-threatening infections in primarily immunocompromised people. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008315" target="_blank">Why certain <em>Aspergillus</em> species are so deadly</a> while others are harmless remains unknown. This may in part be because <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fbr.2007.02.007" target="_blank">combinations of traits, rather than individual traits</a>, underlie organisms' ability to cause disease. So why then are hybrids frequently associated with human disease? Hybrids inherit genetic material from both parents, which may result in new combinations of traits. This may make them more similar to one parent in some of their characteristics, reflect both parents in others or may differ from both in the rest. It is precisely this mix and match of traits that hybrids have inherited from their parental species that <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/science/14creatures.html" target="_blank">facilitates their evolutionary success</a>, including their ability to cause disease.</p>
The Evolutionary Origin of an Aspergillus Hybrid.<p>Multiple evolutionary paths can lead to the emergence of hybrids. One path is through mating, just as the horse and donkey mate to create a mule. Another path is through the merging or fusion of genetic material from cells of different species.</p><p>It is this second path that appears to have been taken by our fungus. <em>A. latus</em> appears to have two of almost everything compared to its parental species: twice the genome size, twice the total number of genes and so on. But unlike other hybrids, which are often sterile like the mule, we found that <em>A. latus</em> is capable of reproducing both asexually and sexually.</p><p>But how distinct were the parents of <em>A. latus</em>? By comparing the parts contributed by each parent in the <em>A. latus</em> genome, we estimate that its parents are approximately 93% genetically similar, which is about as related as we humans are with lemurs. In other words, <em>A. latus</em>, an agent of infectious disease, is the fungal equivalent of a human-lemur hybrid.</p>
How A. Latus Differs From its Parents.<p>Elucidating the identity of closely related fungal pathogens and how they differ from each other in infection-relevant characteristics is a key step toward reducing the burden of fungal disease. For example, we found that <em>A. latus</em> was three times more resistant than <em>A. nidulans</em>, the species it was originally identified as using microscopy-based methods, to one of the most common antifungal drugs, <a href="https://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00520" target="_blank">caspofungin</a>. This result provides a clear example of the potential importance of accurate identification of the <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogen causing an infection.</p><p>We also examined how <em>A. latus</em> and <em>A. nidulans</em> interact with cells from our immune system. We found that immune cells were less efficient at combating <em>A. latus</em> compared to <em>A. nidulans</em>, suggesting the hybrid fungus may be trickier for our immune systems to identify and destroy.</p><p>In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our quest to understand <em>Aspergillus</em> pathogens is becoming more urgent. Growing evidence suggests that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/myc.13096" target="_blank">a fraction of COVID-19 patients are also infected with <em>Aspergillus</em>.</a> More worrying is that these <a href="https://doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.201603" target="_blank">secondary <em>Aspergillus</em> infections</a> can worsen the clinical outcomes for those infected with the novel coronavirus. That being said, we stress that little is known about <em>Aspergillus</em> infections in COVID-19 patients due to a lack of systematic testing, and none of the infections identified so far appear to have been caused by hybrids.</p><p>So, when it comes to hybrids, some are fantastic (the minotaur), some are helpful (the mule) and some are dangerous (<em>Aspergillus latus</em>). Understanding more about the biology of <em>Aspergillus latus</em> may help in our understanding of how microbial pathogens arise and how to best prevent and combat their infections.</p>
This Saturday, June 6, marks National Trails Day, an annual celebration of the remarkable recreational, scenic and hiking trails that crisscross parks nationwide. The event, which started in 1993, honors the National Trail System and calls for volunteers to help with trail maintenance in parks across the country.
- As Protests Rage, Climate Activists Embrace Racial Justice ... ›
- First-Ever Black Birders Week Tackles Racism Outdoors - EcoWatch ›
- 15 EcoWatch Stories on Environmental and Racial Injustice ... ›
- Take a Hike Day Is Around the Bend. What's Your Dream Hike ... ›
By John Letzing
This past Wednesday, when some previously hard-hit countries were able to register daily COVID-19 infections in the single digits, the Navajo Nation – a 71,000 square-kilometer (27,000-square-mile) expanse of the western US – reported 54 new cases of what's referred to locally as "Dikos Ntsaaígíí-19."
The Navajo Nation covers the corners of three different states. Google Maps
Growing Contribution<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM3NDY5Ny9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjM4MTgyM30.IuQTKQs1stvYYKD6vaVTrqAyoBsUG0BhDvlhxsyKwPA/img.png?width=980" id="02a05" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2841f82b1785df5d5ed7bf64d3bb882b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
World Economic Forum
- Black and Hispanic Americans Suffer Disproportionate Coronavirus ... ›
- Native American Tribes' Pandemic Response Is Hindered by ... ›
- Navajo Nation Has Highest Covid-19 Infection Rate in the U.S. ... ›
World Environment Day: A Time to Consider the Planet We’ll Return To, and Decide How to Care for It Going Forward
It's a different kind of World Environment Day this year. In prior years, it might have been enough to plant a tree, spend some extra time in the garden, or teach kids the importance of recycling. This year we have heavier tasks at hand. It's been months since we've been able to spend sufficient time outside, and as we lustfully watch the beauty of a new spring through our kitchen's glass windows, we have to decide how we'll interact with the natural world on our release, and how we can prevent, or be equipped to handle, future threats against our wellbeing.
Scuba divers around the world are holding their metaphorical breath to see if a coronavirus infection affects the ability to dive.
DAN medical experts explained the difference between normal lungs, on the left, and "very serious lungs caused by COVID-19," on the right. Matias Nochetto / Divers Alert Network (DAN)
- How the COVID-19 Coronavirus Attacks the Entire Body - EcoWatch ›
- What Does 'Recovered From Coronavirus' Mean? - EcoWatch ›
- Scuba Divers Make Face Masks out of Recycled Ocean Plastic ... ›