By Sheryl Walters
Artichokes, which can be eaten or taken as artichoke leaf extract, have been shown to improve various digestive health disorders. They significantly lower blood cholesterol levels, prevent heart disease and atherosclerosis, enhance detoxification reactions, as well as protect the liver from damage.
The artichoke is a thistle-like plant native to the regions of southern Europe, North Africa and the Canary Islands. The most powerful part of the plant medicinally is its leaves.
The artichoke is one of the oldest medicinal plants dating back to 4th century B.C. Ancient Greeks and Romans used the artichoke for digestive problems. In the 16th century, artichokes were documented as a treatment for liver problems and jaundice. It was not until the 20th century that it became widely popular as a delicious food and a useful medicine.
Clinical and experimental trials have shown that eating artichokes may be useful in treating chronic digestive complaints including irritable stomach, nervous gastropathy, flatulence, and irritable bowel.
They are useful in treating specific liver/gallbladder conditions with elevated blood fat values by promoting bile flow in the body, increasing fat digestion and protecting the intestinal mucosa. Bile acids stimulate intestinal peristalsis resulting in better digestion. Bile moves toxins that are ingested through food, water and the air from the liver on to the intestine for further elimination, making it a powerful detoxer.
Artichokes have been proven through clinical studies to be a safe, non-toxic, natural way to prevent and treat high cholesterol. They increase the breakdown of cholesterol to bile salts, thus increasing bile production and flow, and regulate the internal production of cholesterol in the liver.
Artichokes have been shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). One study showed a decrease in total cholesterol of 18.5 and LDL cholesterol by 23. This amazing plant had actually gained widespread popularity in the 1950`s and 60`s before statin drugs came along. They contain high amounts of luteolin, which is known to play a role in it cholesterol lowering abilities.
Artichokes are packed with antioxidants, making them incredible defenders against cancer, aging, heart disease, and illness. They boost the immune system and lower cholesterol.
Artichokes are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that increase health and wellbeing. These include:
An anti-carcinogen flavonoid that works as an antioxidant to protect against cancer and heart disease.
A flavonoid which promotes cardiovascular health, helps prevent cell proliferation associated with cancer, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties.
Color pigments in Artichokes that are powerful antioxidants. They are associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, urinary tract health, memory function and healthy aging.