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Artichoke nutrition facts

Artichoke is one of popular winter season edible flower bud of the Mediterranean region known since ancient times for its medicinal and health benefiting qualities. Botanically it belongs to the thistle family of Asteraceae, of the genus; Cynara. Scientific name: Cyanara scolymus.

Globe artichoke grows up to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery-green leaves about 0.5 m long. Beautiful light pink flowers develop in a large head from the edible buds. The bud is composed of compactly arranged triangular scales in a whorl fashion around a central central "choke".

Artichoke globe measures about 6-10 cm in diameter and weigh about 150 g. Fuzzy, immature florets in the centre of the bud constitute "choke". These are inedible in older, larger flowers. Edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucres bracts (triangular scales) and the base, known as the "heart".

Cardoons (Cynara cardunculus) are blanched leafy vegetables closely related artichokes. Unlike in artichokes where the flower buds are edible, the leafy stalks are eaten in cardoons.

Several cultivars of artichoke are grown and categorized based upon size, color, and spine.

  • Green color, big size,
  • Green color, medium size,
  • purple color, big size,
  • Purple color, medium size,
  • Spine variety.

Health benefits of Artichoke

  • Artichoke is low in calories and fat, but is a rich source of dietary fiber; provides 5.4 g per 100 g, about 14% of RDA. Dietary fiber helps control constipation conditions, decrease bad or "LDL" cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines and helps prevent colon cancer risks by preventing toxic compounds in the food from absorption.

  • Scientific studies have shown that bitter principles, cynarin and sesquiterpene- lactones in artichoke extraction have overall cholesterol reduction action in the body by inhibiting its synthesis and increasing its excretion in the bile.

  • Fresh artichoke is an excellent source of vitamin folic acid; provides about 68 mcg per 100 g (17% of recommended daily allowance). Folic acid acts as a co-factor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of DNA. Scientific studies have proven that adequate levels of folates in the diet during pre-conception period and during early pregnancy help prevent from neural tube defects in the newborn baby.

  • It is also rich in B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.

  • Fresh globes also contains good amounts of anti-oxidant vitamin, vitamin-C. Provides about 20% of recommended levels per 100 g. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

  • It is one of the vegetable sources for vitamin K; provides about 12% of DRI. Vitamin K has potential role bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet helps limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

  • It is also good source of anti-oxidants such as silymarin, caffeic acid and ferulic acid, which help body protect from harmful free-radical agents.

  • It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.

  • In addition, it also contains adequate levels of anti-oxidant flavonoid compounds like carotene-beta, lutein and zea-xanthin levels.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 47 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 10.51 g 8%
Protein 3.27 g 6%
Total Fat 0.15 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 5.4 g 14%

Folates 68 µg 17%
Niacin 1.046 mg 6.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.338 mg 7%
Pyridoxine 0.116 mg 9%
Riboflavin 0.066 mg 5%
Thiamin 0.072 mg 6%
Vitamin C 11.7 mg 20%
Vitamin A 13 IU 0.5%
Vitamin E 0.19 mg 1%
Vitamin K 14.8 µg 12%

Sodium 94 mg 6%
Potassium 370 mg 8%

Calcium 44 mg 4%
Copper 0.231 mg 27%
Iron 1.28 mg 16%
Magnesium 60 mg 15%
Manganese 0.256 mg 11%
Phosphorus 90 mg 13%
Selenium 0.2 µg <0.5%
Zinc 0.49 mg 4.5%

Carotene-ß 8 µg
Crypto-xanthin 0 µg
Lutein-zeaxanthin 464 µg

Selection and storage

Harvesting is usually done when the buds are still immature and picked just before the petals begin to open. Fresh globes are readily available in the market around the season, although they are at their best during the springs.

In the store, choose fresh artichokes that feel heavy for their size and without any cuts or bruise. Its leaves should lay tight together, should feature dark green in color and squeak slightly when squeezed. Avoid very large, tough globes as they are unappetizing.

The globes best used while they are fresh. However, they can keep well if stored inside the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag for up to a week.

Preparation and serving methods

Artichokes are popular winter season vegetables in whole of Europe. Small or baby artichokes can be eaten completely without removing the inside spiny choke.

To prepare bigger globes, rinse them in cold running water. Trim away the stem leaving about 1 inch from the base. Remove the lower layers of scales as they do not contain any flesh. Then, using a pair of scissors, trim the thorny ends of the scales. Trim the tip of the globe top using a paring knife up to an inch. Spread out the globe and then scrape off the central choke. Rub the lemon slice over cut portion to prevent it turning brown. Then, the globe is boiled in water upside down with some added salt and lemon juice until it gets soft.

To eat artichokes, take off individual leaf at a time, dip in your favorite sauce, and scrape off the fleshy base with your teeth. Center of leaf near its attachment to the heart holds more part that is edible. Be sure to provide plate to pile discarded leaves and finger bowl to wash for the guests.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Artichokes can be enjoyed as they are. They can also be mixed with vegetables, beans, meat or stuffed with seafood.

  • The globes, in general, are cooked by deep-frying, sautéed in oil or barbeque. The heart of the artichoke is the main part that is eaten.

  • Its stems, which are often thrown away, can also be eaten. The stem, tastes like that of hearts.
  • In Vietnam, artichoke tea is a popular drink.

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