Queen Artichoke & Antioxidants

Queen Artichoke & Antioxidants

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For some of us, eating an artichoke is cumbersome as well as dangerous. A time consuming process, which involves peeling, trimming and the risk of being pricked by thorny leaves. It may not be a vegetable that fits easily into our busy lives, but as awareness of its nutrient value increase, as well as its part in the lauded Mediterranean Diet, some of us may begin to adopt this odd plant into our regular diet, and reap the benefits the Mediterranean citizens are already enjoying. Historically artichokes have been eaten for over a thousand years, their images adorned Egyptian tablets. Artichokes were enjoyed during Roman feasts, and by the Italians during the Renaissance. During the 16th century, when women were banned from eating artichokes, as they were considered aphrodisiacs, Catherine de Medici ate them openly and gluttonously, bringing the artichoke into general popularity in France. The most famous of the artichoke queens however, is Marilyn Monroe, then Norma Jean Baker, who was crowned ‘Miss Artichoke Queen’ in Castroville California back in 1947, at the beginning of her career. The leaves of the artichoke plant, contain a substance called cynarin, which is known to have significant cholesterol lowering effects. It one study, nearly two months of daily intake of cynarin at 500mg a day, reduced cholesterol by 20%. Artichokes provide a rich source of antioxidants, and its leaf extracts have been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, heart disease, and treating liver dysfunction. (Lattanzio et al., 2009; Ceccarelli et al., 2010)(Kucukgergin et al., 2010). The many antioxidant properties of artichokes may make it worth the effort. Some quick instructions from Holly about artichoke preparation may make this plant more inviting, and from a nutrition and health benefit stand point, it’s well worth the bit of effort.

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