Artichokes

The Art of the Artichoke

artichoke basket

According to legend, the artichoke was created when the smitten Greek god Zeus turned his object of affection into a thistle, soon to be known as an artichoke, after being rejected. Despite this prickly beginning, the ancients considered the artichoke full of health benefits, using it as an aphrodisiac, a diuretic, a breath freshener, and even a deodorant.

Castroville, California is the “Artichoke Center of the World.”

It was the Spanish settlers who brought the artichoke to California, and now today 100% of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.

California produces 100% of the United States artichoke crop.

Artichokes are a marine climate vegetable and thrive in the cooler coastal climates. The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom.

Resource via: Web MD

California Artichoke Health Benefits

California grown artichokes are packed with antioxidants making them a good source of folate, dietary fiber, and vitamins C and K. Artichokes rank as number 7 on the USDA’s top 20 antioxidant-rich foods list.

  • According to the USDA, one cooked Artichoke (120 grams) provides 10.3* grams of fiber.
  • One-half cup cooked Artichoke Hearts (84 grams) provides 7.2* grams of fiber.
  • Artichokes aide digestion, are great for the liver and gallbladder, and have been found to improve cholesterol levels.
  • Artichokes contain phytonutrients (“fight-o-nutrients”), or plant compounds that have antioxidant properties and promote human health. Some of the most powerful, polyphenol-type antioxidants are found in Artichokes, a few of which are highlighted below:
Quercetin

A flavonoid that works as an anti-carcinogen and antioxidant to protect against cancer and heart disease.

Rutin

A flavonoid that promotes vascular health, helps prevent cell proliferation associated with cancer, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties.

artichoke oneAnthocyanins

Color pigments in Artichokes that are associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, urinary tract health, memory function and healthy aging.

Gallic Acid

An antioxidant also found in red wine and black tea. It has been shown to inhibit cell proliferation in prostate cancer cells.

Luteolin and Cynarin

Polyphenol antioxidants that may lower cholesterol levels. Artichokes contain cyanarin, which may also help in regeneration of liver tissue.

Caffeic Acid and Chlorogenic Acid

Contain anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral properties.

Silymarin

This antioxidant may aid the liver in regenerative tissue growth.

Resource via: Ocean Mist Farms

Fun Facts About Artichokes

Artichoke close up

  • Technically, an artichoke is a flower  that hasn’t bloomed.
  • In 1948, a young Marilyn Monroe (then Norma Jean) was crowned Castroville’s first “Artichoke Queen.”
  • Artichokes are said to be aphrodisiacs. For this reason, women in some countries were banned from eating them until about the 16th century.
  • One artichoke plant can produce more than 20 artichokes per year.
  • Zeus was said to have turned a scorned lover into an artichoke.
  • In full growth, an artichoke plant can spread nine feet in diameter and stand five feet tall, and one plant can produce over 20 artichokes a year.
  • Baby artichokes are simply normal artichoke buds that grow lower on primary artichoke stalks.
  • If the artichoke feels heavy for its size and squeaks when squeezed, you have found a fresh artichoke.
  • It’s both fun and free to join the Artichokes Aficionado Club!

Resource via: See Monterey