If there’s one item to add to your spring foods list this season, it should be artichokes. While they may not look very enticing to eat, artichokes are actually one of the best spring vegetables you can include in your anti-aging diet, because they add a lot of nutritional value, especially in diets for older adults. Keep reading to learn more about the many health benefits of artichokes and why it deserves to be at the top of your spring foods list.
The Health Benefits of Artichokes
One of the simplest health benefits of artichokes is their low calorie count, which is why so many weight-conscious eaters add it to their list of favorite spring vegetables—one medium-sized artichoke only has about 64 calories.
Another one of the well-known health benefits of artichokes is that they’re a good source of fiber—around 10.0 grams in a cooked, medium-sized artichoke. Fiber is essential in diets for older adults, because it promotes healthy digestive function, helps to manage blood sugar and blood pressure levels, reduces cholesterol, and can even help to control weight.
The health benefits of artichokes don’t end there. Artichokes have also been shown to be one of the most antioxidant-rich vegetables—even more reason to add it to your spring foods list. One of these antioxidants is called cynarin, which is known to help reduce cholesterol (thereby reducing your heart disease risk) and stimulate bile production, which benefits digestive health and boosts healthy liver function.
To top all of this off, artichokes also contains ample amounts of valuable minerals, like magnesium and potassium, as well as vitamins K, C, and A. All of these are valuable in diets for older adults.
How to Prepare Artichokes
While artichokes may be available all year round, they’re usually considered spring vegetables, because they’re mostly in season from March to May. The best way to prepare artichokes is to first cut off the stem and then gently pull apart the leaves a little; this will allow it to cook better. You can either boil or steam artichokes and they can be served warm or cold.
To eat artichokes on their own, simply pull off one of the petals, dip it into your favorite veggie dip, and then pull it through your teeth to remove the soft, pulpy portion of it. (You can throw out the petal when you’re done with it.) You can also eat the bottom of the artichoke (known as an artichoke heart). Just cut it into pieces, dip, and enjoy.
You can also enjoy the many health benefits of artichokes by using the vegetable as an ingredient in healthy recipes for older adults. Try adding artichoke hearts to your salad, soup, casserole, pizza toppings, pasta, or anything else, really. Get creative!
The Benefits of Artichoke Juice
Diets for older adults can also benefit from drinking artichoke juice. It might not sound appetizing, but the benefits of artichoke juice are just as plentiful as eating the vegetable.
To make your life easier, pull apart the petals and cut the artichoke heart into pieces; then juice each piece individually. And keep in mind that because artichokes have a pretty strong flavor, you might want to add it to other vegetable juices, just to make it a bit more palatable. For instance, try mixing artichoke juice with tomato juice.
“Basic Report: 11008, Artichokes, (globe or french), cooked, boiled, drained, without salt,” United States Department of Agriculture web site; http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2858?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=artichoke, last accessed March 30, 2015.
Eder, C., “The Amazing Artichoke,” Life Extension web site; http://www.lef.org/Magazine/2011/11/The-Amazing-Artichoke/Page-01, last accessed March 30, 2015.
“Fibre,” Canadian Diabetes Association web site; http://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/fibre, last accessed March 30, 2015.