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The artichoke is an edible flower bud which grows during winter season. Artichoke is called ankinara in Greek language. Ancient Romans and Greeks used it as a vegetable, which they knew had medical benefits as well as health benefits.
Artichoke tree is a 2meter tree with silver green leaves. The flowers of the tree are light pink in color and later on develop into large head that consists of closely arranged scales that are triangular in shape. The flower bud is known as globe. The immature florets found at the center make the choke. When the flower gets old and large, it is not edible at all. Mostly the edible part of the bud is the fresh lower part of the triangular scales as well as the base part which is known as the heart.
There are a lot of variants of artichoke that are grown all round the world. They are different based on their sized, spine and even color. Green colored big and medium sized artichokes, purple colored big and medium sized ones and the spine variety are some of them.
- Globe artichoke is a good source of fiber and antioxidants. It is low in calories as well as fat. It is a fact that 100 g of globe artichoke contains around 46 calories. A very small amount contains good amount of RDA fiber. When dietary fiber is consumed, constipation can be controlled and it also helps in decreasing bad cholesterol or LDL, as it binds it inside the intestine. The result will be lowering the risks for colon cancer. Toxic compounds are absorbed right away.
- Artichoke that is fresh contains good amount of folic acid, vitamin that are essential for the body. Folic acid is an essential factor for enzymes that work for DNA synthesis. It is a proven fact that the right amount of foliates in the diet before conception will help in preventing any kind of neural tube defects in newborns.
- The antioxidant compounds like caffeine acid, silymarin and Ferulic acid are present in artichoke. They help in protecting the body against harmful free radicals.
- The minerals like copper, potassium, phosphorus, calcium and iron are present in artichoke in large number. It is a known fact that Potassium is very essential for our body as it is a very essential compound of the body fluids and cells that are needed for controlling the heart rate and blood pressure. It helps in cutting down the bad effects of sodium. Copper is a very important factor needed for the production of red blood cells. On the other hand, Iron is needed for helping the red blood cells in the bone marrow synthesis.
- It contains a good amount of antioxidant vitamin, Vitamin C with the regular intake of foods that carry vitamin c, the human body is able to resist against a majority of infections and free radicals that are very harmful for the body.
- Artichoke also contains antioxidant flavonoids such as zeaxanthin, carotene-beta and lutein.
Selecting and storing the vegetable
Artichoke is harvested right when the buds are immature. The petals should not be open while harvesting. All round the globe, we get artichoke available at any season. The best ones are available mostly during spring season.
While choosing artichokes, make sure they are fresh and are heavy. Do not take those that have cuts or bruises. The leaves of the vegetables need to be in a compact manner and should have the dark green color. Do not pick the over mature ones as they are not good for consumption. Make sure to use fresh ones and if you want to store it for a week, do keep it intact in a zip-lock plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.
Before preparing the vegetable, you need to rinse them well under running cold water. Cut off the stem. Pluck out the outer layer of scales. Now trim the scales that have sharp ends. Does trim the top end with the help of a paring knife. The scales need to be spread out with the fingertips. Now scrape the central part. If you rub lemon slice on the part that is cut, it will not turn to brown. Put the globes upside down in boiling water with some salt and lemon juice and allow it to become soft.
Cooked artichoke can be consumed by taking one leaf and scraping the fleshy part with the help of your teeth. Edible flesh is found at the center and lower part of the scale. Discard the remaining leaves. It can be added to vegetables, or meat or even your favorite seafood. It can also be deep fried or sautéed. No allergic reactions are found after consumption of artichokes. So you can add it to your daily diet and make yourself hale and healthy.