HEALTH BENEFITS OF ARTICHOKE
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki
WHAT IS ARTICHOKE?
Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a nutritious and popular, especially in France, vegetable, known to be an excellent source of antioxidants and benefiting especially liver, cardiovascular, stomach and gut health, digestion, blood pressure, and possibly blood sugar levels. The edible part (the artichoke’s heart) contains more nutrients than the leaves [>] although the Polyphenolic compounds are mainly found in the leaves. The make an extract artichoke hearts, leaves, and roots are crushed, and usually combined with a mixture of methanol and water.
KEY ACTIVE INGREDIENTS
Caffeoylquinic acid is also an antioxidant which helps detoxify the liver by forming bonds with toxic compounds and lowering their toxicity [>].
Luteolin is another antioxidant with antiinflammatory and immune-stimulating properties [>].
Cynaropicrin may help relax GI tract muscles and reduce excessive muscle contractions in the gut [>].
Inulin is a starchy soluble fibre regarded as an excellent prebiotic able to increase the number of beneficial friendly bacteria residing in the intestinal tract and thus promoting gut health, digestion, detoxification and immunity [>]. Most of the positive effects of inulin are the result of the metabolites produced by bacteria that use inulin as a food to generate energy [>]. Furthermore, the specific micro-structure of artichokes enables them to create a perfect environment for the growth and multiplication of probiotic bacterial strains such as Lactobacillus paracasei.
POSSIBLE HEALTH BENEFITS
Digestion & Liver Health
Artichoke extract stimulates production of bile which helps eliminate toxins from the liver. Antioxidant compounds found in Artichoke extract also help protect the liver against oxidative damage [>, >].
In clinical trials on people with digestive problems, the intake of the artichoke extract helped ease digestive problems. Cynarin, one of the key components of artichoke, was found to stimulate bile production, supporting fat digestion, liver health and absorption vitamins and minerals. It also helped improve colon motility thus preventing constipation and improving elimination of toxins [>, >].
In a clinical trial, daily consumption of inulin derived from artichoke, increased the beneficial bacteria count in the gut [>] while reducing the growth of harmful E. coli and Clostridium bacteria, and helping relief constipation [>, >].
In a clinical trial on people suffering from IBS, both constipation and diarrhoea decreased after 8 weeks of taking artichoke extract [>]. In a survey which included about 300 individuals with IBS who took artichoke extract, 96% rated the extract as more beneficial than or at least equivalent to other therapies [>].
An animal study has demonstrated that artichoke extract compound, cynaropicrin, may have a potential to significantly reduce muscle spasms in the gut thus helping reduce pain and diarrhoea [>].
In an animal trial, Artichoke extract had a potential of lowering cholesterol by stimulating bile acid secretion (one of the key ways of eliminating excess cholesterol is through its conversion to bile) [>].
Luteolin (from artichoke), was found to be able to inhibit cholesterol formation [>].
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