The artichoke is an unusual food. It is actually a variety of thistle and the edible parts of the plant are the flower buds, which are eaten before the flowers themselves come into bloom. Artichokes were originally native to the Mediterranean area, and have been a staple of the Mediterranean diet since the time of the ancient Greeks. Today artichokes are cultivated all over the world, from France to the United States.

Artichokes are incredibly nutritious, being a good source of fibre, protein and carbohydrates. Artichokes also contain iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and vitamins A, B, E and K. This makes them a great addition to the Paleo diet.

The Health Benefits of Artichoke

There are several health benefits to eating artichokes. The potassium that they contain can help to improve your cardiovascular health, maintaining a normal healthy rhythm and also reducing your risk of stroke. In addition, the phytonutrients in the vegetable help to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in your bloodstream, further reducing your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Another benefit of the sheer number of phytonutrients and antioxidants is that they help to boost the performance of your immune system. Antioxidants have been credited with everything from protecting against cancer to fighting the effects of aging. In addition, artichokes contain a lot of vitamin C, which augments their immune-system boosting properties.

Because they are fibre-rich, artichokes help to improve the functioning of your digestive system, protecting against constipation and also making you feel fuller for longer after you eat. If you are attempting to lose weight, then eating high-fibre foods is a good way to ensure that you stick to your diet. The Paleo diet is rich in high-protein foods and foods that contain healthy fats, and adding fibre-rich foods to the mix helps to improve your chances of successfully losing weight. The fibre content also helps to slow the digestion of any sugars that were included as part of the meal, regulating your insulin levels.

Artichokes are also good for your bones and muscles. The vitamin C in them helps your body to form collagen, which is used in the development of everything from blood vessels and bones to muscles and cartilage. The magnesium content supports bone growth and muscle function, while potassium is vital for the correct functioning of the central nervous system.

Cooking Artichoke

Artichokes are a very versatile vegetable. You can cook them in the microwave, boil them or steam them. The best way to cook artichokes is by steaming them, because this preserves more nutrients. Baby artichokes cook faster than bigger ones, and tend to yield more too. You can use the heart of the vegetable to make dips, and then use this for snacking with slices of celery or carrot sticks, or you can add the vegetable to a soup or a casserole. Try to source artichokes from relatively local farms to ensure that they are as fresh as possible and to keep the number of  “food miles” down as well.