Traditional European medicine has attributed several medicinal properties to artichoke (Cynara scolymus).
Artichokes have been used for liver disease (eg hepatitis and jaundice). They are rich in inulin, a type of fiber that is marketed as a dietary supplement and improves the balance of intestinal bacteria. They are classified as diuretic foods, help with gallbladder function and relieve gastrointestinal problems. They alleviate constipation, diarrhea and indigestion. They also lower cholesterol and high blood sugar levels while on diets aimed at losing weight.
Artichokes have significant nutritional value. For example, it is rich in B-complex vitamins, such as B3 (niacin), B1 (thiamine) and folic acid. It contains polyphenolic ingredients, minerals (eg potassium, calcium and phosphorus), vitamin C and vitamin K. The nutritional value of a medium artichoke (100 grams) raw or cooked (boiled) is shown in the table below (1).
|Artichoke||Raw (100g)||Broiled (100g)|
|Carbohydrates||12 g||13 g|
|Fibers||6 g||5.9 g|
|Proteins||4 g||3.3 g|
|Fat||0.2 g||0.3 g|
|Phenols in total||6.1 mg||10.2 mg|
|Vitamin C||15.4 mg||13.2 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0.49 mg||0.34 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0.51 mg||0.38 mg|
|Vitamin B3||0.49mg||0.49 mg|
|Vitamin B12||1.27 mg||0.94 mg|
|Folic acid||0.39 mg||0.25 mg|
|Iron||1.23 mg||0.63 mg|
|Magnesium||0.23 mg||0.094 mg|
|Calcium||43 mg||24 mg|
|Potassium||364 mg||283 mg|
Artichokes are among the richest vegetables in antioxidants. The main bioactive components of the head and its leaves are polyphenols that contain caffeic acids (eg cynarin and chlorogenic) as well as flavonoids (eg luteolin and apigenin). Other antioxidants include silymarin, β-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, quercetin and rutin. Chlorogenic acid, a substance that is thought to help with weight loss, predominates in artichoke leaves. Anthocyanins have been detected in artichoke heads.
Artichoke extract contains high concentrations of the plant’s ingredients and is becoming increasingly popular among dietary supplements. Below are six top properties of artichokes and their extract.
Artichokes and bad cholesterol
Cynarine (from which the plant got its botanical name) stimulates the production of bile in the liver and this in turn helps lower cholesterol. Also, the antioxidant luteolin appears to contribute to lowering cholesterol (2).
Artichoke leaf extract can lower “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and increase “good” cholesterol (HDL). A study of 143 adults with high cholesterol showed that extracts taken daily for six weeks resulted in a 18.5% and 22.9% reduction in total and LDL cholesterol, respectively (3).
A review of more than 700 people found that eating artichoke daily for 5-13 weeks reduced total and “bad” LDL cholesterol (4). Studies report a 30% reduction in LDL cholesterol and a 22% reduction in triglycerides.
Artichokes and blood pressure
A study of 98 men with high blood pressure found that daily consumption of artichoke extract for 12 weeks reduced diastolic and systolic blood pressure by an average of 2.76 mmHg and 2.85 mmHg, respectively (5).
The way artichoke extract lowers blood pressure is not fully understood. However, studies with test tubes and in animals show that the extract promotes the enzyme eNOS, which plays a role in relaxing blood vessels (6, 7). In addition, artichokes have significant potassium content which helps regulate blood pressure.
However, it is not clear whether the consumption of artichokes provides the same benefits as its extract which is used in studies at high concentrations.
Artichoke and liver health
Artichoke ingredients protect against liver damage and promote the growth of new tissue (8, 9). And because they increase bile production, they help remove harmful toxins from the liver (6).
In one study, artichoke extract given to rats resulted in less liver damage, higher levels of antioxidants, and better liver function after overdosing, compared with rats that did not receive the extract (10).
Studies in humans have also shown positive effects on liver health. In 90 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a daily intake of 600 mg of artichoke extract for two months led to improved liver function (11). In another study, also in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, there was reduced liver inflammation and less fat deposition (12).
Scientists believe that quinine and silymarin improve liver function, however, more research is needed to confirm these properties.
The artichoke in digestion
Because artichokes are a good source of fiber, they can help keep your digestive system healthy. The inulin it contains acts as a prebiotic. It promotes the beneficial bacteria of the intestine and this relieves constipation and diarrhea (13).
An adult study showed an improvement in intestinal microbiome after consuming artichoke extract containing inulin for three weeks (14). The extract may also provide relief from some digestive symptoms such as indigestion, bloating and heartburn. A study of 247 people with indigestion concluded that daily consumption of artichoke supplementation for six weeks reduced flatulence (15).
These positive effects are thought to be caused by cynarin, which stimulates bile production, speeds up bowel movements and improves the digestion of certain fats.
Note that it is not clear whether people with gallstones benefit. But because low bile production contributes to the formation of gallstones and cholesterol is a key component, artichokes may be a form of prevention.
Artichoke and irritable bowel
Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a condition that affects the digestive system and can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, bloating, constipation and flatulence. A study in people with irritable bowel syndrome showed that daily consumption of artichoke extract for six weeks helped reduce symptoms. 96% of participants rated the supplement equally effective – if not better – than other treatments for irritable bowel syndrome (16).
Another study, in 208 people with irritable bowel syndrome, found that 1-2 capsules of artichoke leaf extract, consumed daily for two months, reduced symptoms by 26% and improved quality of life by 20% (17).
The above results may be due to the fact that the gut microbiome is improved. In addition, some artichoke compounds have antispasmodic properties, which means that they can help reduce the muscle spasms that occur in this condition.
Artichoke and blood sugar
A study of 39 overweight people found that daily consumption of beans and artichoke extract for two months reduced fasting blood glucose levels (18). However, it was not clear how much of this effect was due to artichoke extract.
Another study showed that eating boiled artichokes at a meal reduced blood sugar and insulin levels 30 minutes after eating. This effect was observed in healthy adults who did not have metabolic syndrome (19).
How artichoke extract lowers blood sugar is not fully understood. One hypothesis is that it slows down the activity of α-glucosidase, an enzyme that breaks down starch into glucose, which can affect blood sugar.
Dosage and possible side effects
There are insufficient data to establish dosage guidelines. It is preferable for the dosage to be determined by a specialist depending on the case for which it is taken.
The extract is generally considered safe, with few side effects, however there are limited data available. However, artichokes can cause allergic reactions. People at higher risk for allergic reactions are those who are allergic to similar herbs.
Women during pregnancy or breastfeeding are advised to avoid artichoke extract due to a lack of data on their safety.
Find at Vita4you.gr a great variety in supplements with artichoke extract.
- The effect of cooking on the chemical Composition of Artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.).
- Pharmacological Studies of Artichoke Leaf Extract and Their Health Benefits.
- Efficacy of Artichoke dry extract in patients with hyperlipoproteinemia.
- Lipid-lowering activity of artichoke extracts: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
- Artichoke leaf juice contains antihypertensive effect in patients with mild hypertension.
- Pharmacological Studies of Artichoke Leaf Extract and Their Health Benefits.
- Flavonoids from artichoke (Cynara scolymus L.) up-regulate endothelial-type nitric-oxide synthase gene expression in human endothelial cells.
- Artichoke leaf extract – Recent findings reflecting effects on lipid metabolism, liver and gastrointestinal tracts.
- The hepatocurative effects of Cynara scolymus L. leaf extract on carbon tetrachloride-induced oxidative stress and hepatic injury in rats.
- Protective effect of artichoke leaf extract against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity in rats.
- Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial.
- Therapeutic correction of liver and biliary tract pathology among adolescents with obesity.
- Chemical composition and antioxidant properties of mature and baby artichokes (Cynara scolymus L.), raw and cooked.
- Effect of inulin on the human gut microbiota: stimulation of Bifidobacterium adolescentis and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
- Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in the treatment of patients with functional dyspepsia: a six-week placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial.
- Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome in a post-marketing surveillance study.
- Artichoke leaf extract reduces symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and improves quality of life in otherwise healthy volunteers suffering from concomitant dyspepsia: a subset analysis.
- Appetite control and glycaemia reduction in overweight subjects treated with a combination of two highly standardized extracts from Phaseolus vulgaris and Cynara scolymus.
- Boiled wild artichoke reduces postprandial glycemic and insulinemic responses in normal subjects but has no effect on metabolic syndrome patients.