The term artichoke is equivalent, depending on the region, to artichoke, artichoke or alkaline. It is a plant whose heads (flowers that are in a receptacle) are used as food.
The idea of artichoke generally refers to the plant species whose scientific name is Cynara scolymus. Originally from the area of the Mediterranean, this plant perennial can reach a height of two meters.
The leaves of Cynara scolymus are pinnate lobed with a length exceeding 60 cm; its lobes have no spines and its underside is tomentose (that is, its surface is covered with a layer of hairs). Regarding their chapters (clustered or open inflorescences in which the peduncle widens and forms a disk of a certain thickness called the common receptacle), we can say that they are large and have bluish flowers, which makes them very showy.
The artichoke contains high amounts of carbohydrates and water. It also features various vitamins (such as vitamin B3, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin) and minerals (calcium, phosphorous, iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and others).
Among its components that are beneficial for the body, sterols (which minimize cholesterol absorbed by the intestine), cinnarin (a bitter principle that acts as a diuretic and increases bile secretion), inulin (a class of carbohydrate) stand out. complex), mucilages (a type of soluble fiber that is also found in carob, flax, and mustard seeds), acids (caffeic, caffeoylquinic, ferulic, and dicaphenylquinic) and flavonoids (cynaropicrin and cinaroside, a glycoside which is derived from luteolin).
The benefits of artichoke for the proper functioning of the liver are diverse, since its active ingredient, cinnarin, protects it and makes this plant a suitable complement for treatments against liver diseases such as insufficiency, hepatitis, jaundice or fatty liver.
The cinarina present in the artichoke also enhances the biliary function so that the fats can be digested correctly and serves to treat problems such as indigestion, gas and dyspepsia caused by the stones in the gallbladder.
The cholesterol can also be regulated with artichoke, because it is a liver tonic with ideal properties to reduce it; We must not forget that the liver is the organ that most influences the metabolism of fats. To achieve the reduction of the level of cholesterol in the blood, the main players are the cinnarin and the acids of this plant, which can also help in the prevention of arteriosclerosis and the treatment of hypertension.
Another application of the artichoke is found in diets to lose weight. For this, it is advisable to complement it with other low fat and high fiber foods; It is precisely the fiber of the artichoke that is responsible for the body not reabsorbing the fats from the bile, but rather eliminating them through the faeces.
There are various gastronomic preparations that are made with artichokes. Typically, as a first step, artichokes are washed with plenty of drinking water. Then the external leaves are removed, which, due to their hardness, are not suitable for consumption, and the stem is also scraped to remove the hardest fibers. Finally they are placed in boiling water with salt and lemon juice until it is easy to extract the leaves.
Once the artichokes are cooked, they can be consumed in different ways, both the leaves and the stem and the heart. Many people choose to eat the artichokes after boiling them by adding a sauce or dressing. It is also possible to make artichoke tarts or prepare stuffed artichokes, among many other preparations.