The Artichoke is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich vegetable. According to the USDA, one medium Artichoke is an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C, and a good source of folate and magnesium. Artichokes also are a natural source of antioxidants. In fact, recent research shows cooked Ocean Mist artichokes are the highest antioxidant source among all fresh vegetables. Source: adapted from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006).
I’ve been hearing so much about antioxidants lately. What exactly are they, and what can they do for my health?
Antioxidants are components of food — found mostly in vegetables and fruits — that fight harmful “free radicals” in the body. These free radicals might otherwise damage healthy cells. Research shows that antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic diseases. Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006.
Is there a certain amount of antioxidants I’m supposed to eat each day? How can I determine the amount of antioxidants in foods?
Currently, there are no government guidelines on how many and what kind of antioxidants to consume in our daily diet, as is the case with vitamins and minerals. So, for now, continue to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables for better health — particularly those with higher levels of antioxidants. Recent research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found cooked Ocean Mist Artichokes are the best antioxidant source among all fresh vegetables.
How does heating during cooking affect the antioxidant and overall nutrition content of Artichokes?
Heating has a varied effect on the antioxidant content of foods — it negatively affects some foods and positively affects others. However, it’s good news for Artichokes: research shows that cooking (e.g., microwaving, boiling) increases their total antioxidant content. To retain the most nutrients in any vegetables, use cooking methods such as steaming or microwaving.
I heard that eating Artichokes can help keep my heart healthy. Is there any truth to this claim?
Very promising preliminary research shows that Artichokes may offer protection against heart disease in people who already have high cholesterol. More research is needed to determine the exact substances in Artichokes that make them cardio-protective, and the exact role they play in maintaining good health and preventing disease. Until then, there are plenty of other heart-healthy reasons to add Artichokes to your diet — they’re loaded with fiber, plus they are fat-free and cholesterol-free.
I have diabetes. How do I count Artichokes in my meal plan?
Non-starchy vegetables, such as Artichokes, are vital to your diabetes meal plan. Pat yourself on the back if you eat them — they contain important nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and fiber. Plus, they contain few calories and carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association recommends you eat at least two to three servings of non-starchy vegetables every day.
Count 1/2 cup cooked Artichokes or 1/2 of a medium Artichoke as one non-starchy vegetable exchange (serving). Each non-starchy vegetable exchange contains 5 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of protein, no fat, 1 to 4 grams of fiber and only 25 calories.
Are canned Artichokes as nutritious as fresh Artichokes?
Artichokes packaged in jars are often marinated in oil, which means you will get added fat and calories. You’ll also avoid added sodium and sugar if you opt for fresh, cooked Artichokes or a precooked, frozen option.
Why can’t I just take antioxidant supplements instead of eating food that is high in antioxidants?
Only food can provide the ideal mixture of vitamins, minerals and other substances for health — qualities that can’t be duplicated with dietary supplements. For example, eating cooked, fresh Artichokes offers nutrients such as fiber and protein, (and powerful polyphenol-type antioxidants) that aren’t found in a pill of vitamin C. Not to mention, they taste great and add texture and color to any recipe they accompany.
I noticed the sodium in Artichokes is higher than some other fruits & vegetables. Does this mean they’re unhealthy to eat?
Artichokes are a very healthy addition to your diet. Fresh Artichokes are almost never omitted from mildly salt-restricted diets or even low-salt diets. If you want to cut down on your salt intake, buy and cook as many fresh, minimally processed foods as possible, and leave the salt shaker off the table.