Artichokes are often a love or a hate food…but once you’ve learned of their digestive properties and nutritional value, you might just develop a new appreciation for this vegetable.

The most popular and widely available artichokes are globe artichokes. They are classified as neither fruit nor vegetable, as they are actually the flowering bud of the Mediterranean thistle plant.

You may also come across Jerusalem artichokes, also known as ‘sunchokes’. These come from the sunflower family, and aren’t actually artichokes!

Artichokes have tough, petal-shaped leaves which form their bud shape. Generally, the bottom portion of the leaves are edible. Inside the artichoke is the ‘heart’ and many believe this is the most tasty part.

Artichokes have been used as a digestive aid for many centuries. They contain a dietary fibre called ‘fructo-oligosacharides’ (FOS), which is digested differently to other dietary fibres. FOS is fermented by bacteria in your gut, therefore helping ‘good’ bacteria to flourish.

Adding artichokes to your diet can assist with constipation or other digestive problems and will contribute to healthy, glowing skin. To experience the health benefits of delicious artichokes, avoid the pickled variety and opt for steamed or boiled artichokes instead.

Choosing artichokes

Choose buds which are dark green in colour, quite heavy and have tight leaves. Avoid artichokes that look dry or are turning brown. If its leaves are open, the artichoke is past its prime. You can still eat it, but the leaves may be tough.

Cooking artichokes

To cook a whole artichoke, boil or steam it for 35 minutes or until one of the leaves can be easily pulled from the base. Once cooked, slice thinly and drizzle with a low-fat salad dressing. Alternatively, sauté or grill artichoke slices and add them to pasta dishes, quiches or risotto.

Storing artichokes

Store artichokes in your fridge in a plastic bag. Ideally, use them within four days of purchase.

Nutritional information

The following information is based on a 100 g boiled artichoke.

Calories 21 cals
Kilojoules 89 kjs
Sugars 1 g
Total fats 0 g
Carbohydrates 1.5 g
Cholesterol 0
Protein 3 g
Sodium 6 mg
Fibre 1 g

Other minerals:

Potassium 325 mg
Iron 0.5 mg
Calcium 29 mg
Zinc 0.5 mg

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