The edible portion of the artichoke plant consists of flower buds before the flowers come into bloom. Once the buds bloom, the structure changes to a coarse barely edible form. Here Dr. Mercola, Mercola.com, reflects on what artichokes are good for:
“A member of the sunflower family of vegetables, the artichoke is a perennial thistle.1 First cultivated in the Mediterranean region, artichokes were popular among the Roman nobility. They were prepared in honey and vinegar, then seasoned with cumin, which resulted in a scrumptious treat year-round.2
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Arabs cultivated the plant and took it to Spain. Another contributor to its popularity was Catherine de Medici, who took artichokes to France when she arrived from Florence to marry Henry II.3
Today, California provides virtually all of the artichokes in the U.S. The California Artichoke Advisory Board notes that it is a minor crop compared to wheat and rice, but still contributes more than $50 million to the economy.4 If left to grow wild, artichokes blossom into large purple flowers.
Health Benefit of Artichoke
A medium artichoke (128 grams) can supply 6.9 grams of fiber,5 which is important in promoting regular bowel movement as it adds bulk to your stools. Other benefits include easing symptoms associated with common digestive disorders such as diarrhea and constipation.6
Fiber can also help lower blood sugar7 and blood pressure levels,8 prevent inflammation9 and protect heart health,10 as well as reduce your bad cholesterol levels.11 The cynarin in artichokes (note the botanical name) increases bile production in your liver, which in turn helps rid cholesterol from your body.12
Another benefit of artichokes is its vitamin C content, also known as ascorbic acid.13 This nutrient provides antioxidant action to protect cells from damage from free radicals (such as air pollution),14 as well as reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.15 Vitamin C also supplies collagen to help wounds heal quickly and protects the body from disease by helping it absorb iron.16
Other extras in artichokes include vitamin K (another antioxidant) and folate. Minerals also are plentiful, serving up good amounts of magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium and phosphorus. 17
How To Grow Artichokes
The great thing about the artichoke is that it can grow practically anywhere, but the best locations are those with mild winters and cool summers.18 Furthermore, your garden should have full sun exposure and well-draining soil. Plenty of water is also key to growing high-quality artichokes.19
There are three ways to plant artichokes: seeds, roots or shoots. Beginners are generally recommended to employ the root method. Dig the artichokes deep into the soil and place a shovel of compost over them. Space them properly 3 to 5 feet apart since they will be taking up lots of space once they grow. Keep the soil mulched to conserve moisture.20
You may use organic mulch such as grass clippings, straw, aged manure or a mixture of all three to increase harvest quality. Artichokes generally bloom in the early summer, with each stem forming several flower buds.21″
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