Artichoke

The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food.

The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom. The budding artichoke flower-head is a cluster of many budding small flowers (an inflorescence), together with many bracts, on an edible base. Once the buds bloom, the structure changes to a coarse, barely edible form. Another variety of the same species is the cardoon, a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region. Both wild forms and cultivated varieties (cultivars) exist.

This vegetable grows to 1.4–2 m (4.6–6.6 ft) tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery, glaucous-green leaves 50–82 cm (20–32 in) long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm (3–6 in) diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portions of the buds consist primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the “heart”; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the “choke” or beard. These are inedible in older, larger flowers.

Several cultivars of artichoke grown and categorized based on their size, color, and spine.

1.Green color, big size,

2.Green color, medium size,

3.purple color, big size,

4.Purple color, medium size,

5.Spine variety.

History

The artichoke is mentioned as a garden plant in the 8th century BC by Homer and Hesiod. The naturally occurring variant of the artichoke, the cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), which is native to the Mediterranean area,also has records of use as a food among the ancient Greeks and Romans. Pliny the Elder mentioned growing of ‘carduus’ in Carthage and Cordoba.In North Africa, where it is still found in the wild state, the seeds of artichokes, probably cultivated, were found during the excavation of Roman-period Mons Claudianus in Egypt.Varieties of artichokes were cultivated in Sicily beginning in the classical period of the ancient Greeks; the Greeks calling them kaktos. In that period, the Greeks ate the leaves and flower heads, which cultivation had already improved from the wild form. The Romans called the vegetable carduus (hence the name cardoon). Further improvement in the cultivated form appears to have taken place in the medieval period in Muslim Spain and the Maghreb, although the evidence is inferential only.Names for the artichoke in English and many other European languages today (e.g. Spanish alcachofa, French artichaut) come from medieval Arabic الخرشوف al-ḫarڑūf (not from modern Levantine Arabic أرضي شوكي arḍī ڑawkī, which derives from folk-etymological reinterpretation of one or more of the European names.)

Le Roy Ladurie, in his book Les Paysans de Languedoc, has documented the spread of artichoke cultivation in Italy and southern France in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, when the artichoke appeared as a new arrival with a new name, which may be taken to indicate an arrival of an improved cultivated variety:

The blossom of the thistle, improved by the Arabs, passed from Naples to Florence in 1466, carried by Filippo Strozzi. Towards 1480 it is noticed in Venice, as a curiosity. But very soon veers towards the northwest…Artichoke beds are mentioned in Avignon by the notaries from 1532 onward; from the principle [sic] towns they spread into the hinterlands … appearing as carchofas at Cavaillon in 1541, at Chateauneuf du Pape in 1553, at Orange in 1554. The local name remains carchofas, from the Italian carciofo … They are very small, the size of a hen’s egg … and are still considered a luxury, a vaguely aphrodisiac tidbit that one preserved in sugar syrup.

The Dutch introduced artichokes to England, where they grew in Henry VIII’s garden at Newhall in 1530. They were taken to the United States in the 19th century—to Louisiana by French immigrants and to California by Spanish immigrants.

Herbal tea

Artichokes can also be made into a herbal tea. “Artichoke tea” is produced as a commercial product in the Da Lat region of Vietnam. A herbal tea called Ceai de Anghinare based on artichoke is made in Romania.The flower portion is put into water and consumed as a herbal tea in Mexico. It has a slightly bitter woody taste.

Liqueur

Artichoke is the primary flavor of the 33-proof (16.5%-alcohol) Italian liqueur Cynar produced by the Campari Group.[citation needed] It can be served over ice as an aperitif or as a cocktail mixed with orange juice, especially popular in Switzerland. It is also used to make a ‘Cin Cyn’, a slightly less-bitter version of the Negroni cocktail, by substituting Campari by Cynar.

Artichoke Nutrition Facts

9 Amazing Benefits

1. Globe artichoke is low in calories and fat; 100 g of this flower bud just carries 47 calories. Nonetheless, it is one of the finest sources of dietary fiber and antioxidants. It provides 5.4 g per 100 g, about 14% of RDA fiber. Dietary-fiber helps control constipation conditions, decreases bad or “LDL” cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines and help cut down colon cancer risks by preventing toxic compounds in the food from absorption.

2. Artichoke contains bitter principles, cynarin, and sesquiterpene-lactones. Scientific studies show that these compounds, not only inhibit cholesterol synthesis but also increase its excretion in the bile, and thus, help overall reduction in the total cholesterol levels in the blood.

3. Fresh artichoke is an excellent source of vitamin, folic acid; provides about 68 µg per 100 g (17% of recommended daily allowance). Folic acid acts as a co-factor for enzymes involved in the synthesis of DNA. Scientific studies have proven that adequate levels of folates in the diet during the pre-conception period, and during early pregnancy may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborn baby.

4. Fresh globes also contain moderate amounts of the antioxidant vitamin; vitamin-C (Provides about 20% of recommended levels per 100 g). Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin-C helps the human body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

5. It is one of the good vegetable sources for vitamin-K; provide about 12% of DRI. Vitamin-K plays a vital role in bone health through promoting osteotropic (bone formation) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain.It thus has a valuable role in the treatment of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.

6. It is an also a good source of antioxidant compounds such as silymarin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid, which help the body protect from harmful free-radical agents. Total measurable antioxidant strength (ORAC) of artichokes (globe or french) is 6552 µmol TE/100 g.

7. It is also rich in the B-complex group of vitamins such as niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid that are essential for optimum cellular metabolic functions.

8. Further, the artichoke is a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium. Manganese used by the human body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper required in the production of red blood cells. Iron helps in the red blood cell synthesis in the bone marrow.

9. Additionally, it contains small amounts of antioxidant flavonoid compounds like carotene-beta, lutein, and zeaxanthin.