Artichoke | Cynara Scolymus

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Other Names

Cynara scolymus, Alcachofa, Alcaucil, ALE, Artichaut, Artichaut Commun, Artichaut Sauvage, Artichoke Extract, Artichoke Fruit, Artichoke Leaf, Artichoke Leaf Extract, Artischocke, Cardo, Cardo de Comer, Cardon d’Espagne, Cardoon, Cynara, Cynara cardunculus, Cynara scolymus, Extrait d’Artichaut, Feuille d’Artichaut, Garden Artichoke, Gemuseartischocke, Globe Artichoke, Kardone, Tyosen-Azami.

Description

The Artichoke is one of the oldest vegetables, having been first grown in Eastern Africa and made its way to Europe through Egypt. Ancient Egyptians have cultivated Artichoke and have been recorded on papyri and offered on sacrificial altars.

It grows from 4-6 feet tall with arching, deep-lobed, glaucous green leaves. The flowers develop in a large bulb head with triangular scales. The individual florets are purple. The edible portions consist of the fleshy lower portions of the bud and the base known as the “heart”. The immature floret clusters in the center of the bud is called the “choke” or the beard. The choke cannot be eaten in older flowers.

Ingredients

Artichokes contain a good amount of  stigmasterol, luteolin, cynarin and beta-sitosterol, carbohydrates, sugar, fibre, protein, fat, thiamine, riboflavin (Vitamin B2), niacin, pantothenic acid (B5), Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin C,

E, K, calcium, iron, manganese,

magnesium, phosphorus, sodium,  potassium and zinc.


Collection period

September to October

Used Parts

The leaf, root, and stem are used to make medicine.

When dried, the leaf can be eaten as a vegetable. However, the artichoke heart is widely used in cooking and has many applications.

Uses

Artichoke is effective for an upset stomach, especially for nausea, flatulence (gas), and vomiting and stomach pain. It can also help address high cholesterol. In some cases, it is good for preventing alcohol-induced hangovers. Though lacking in evidence, Artichoke has said to be effective for irritable bowel syndrome, snakebite, water retention, kidney problem, anemia, liver problem, arthritis, gallstone, and other conditions.

The total antioxidant content of the Artichoke flower heads is one of the highest for vegetables to be recorded. Artichoke also is a rich source of cynarine which inhibits taste receptors, making food and other drinks seem sweet.

Artichokes also help in digestion and gall bladder functions. It also helps reduce cholesterol levels which diminish the risk of coronary heart disease. Leaf extracts from Artichoke prove helpful for patients with functional dyspepsia.

Application

In cooking, the leaves are removed and the fleshy base eaten usually with vinegar, butter, hollandaise, mayonnaise, aioli, lemon juice and other sauces. The fibrous upper part is discarded. The heart is eaten when the inedible choke has been peeled and discarded away from the base. The thin leaves around the choke are edible.

Artichoke hearts can be canned, pickled and marinated for later use. They can also be enjoyed deep-fried whole and are also good for pizza toppings.

Powdered leaves are made into teas and capsules and liquid extracts can be made into juices.

Summary

Traced back to ancient times, the Artichoke is rich in many nutrients and can help reduce cholesterol levels. It is as diverse in many countries and can be preserved, marinated, pickled, even made into teas and capsules.

Side Effects

Artichoke leaves are not necessarily effective for gallstones.

References

  • -RXList, Artichoke: http://www.rxlist.com/artichoke/supplements.htm

  • Wikipedia, Artichoke: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artichoke

  • Gourmet.com, An Artichoke by Any Other Name: http://www.gourmet.com/food/2008/02/jarts

  • Organic Gardening, Learn and Grow: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/artichokes

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