Artichokes are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and other nutrients. They may also improve several aspects of health, including heart health and digestion.
Although often considered a vegetable, artichokes (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) are a type of thistle.
This plant originated in the Mediterranean and has been used for centuries for its potential medicinal properties (
Its alleged health benefits include lower blood sugar levels and improved digestion, heart health, and liver health.
Artichoke extract, which contains high concentrations of compounds found in the plant, is also increasingly popular as a supplement.
Here are the top 8 health benefits of artichokes and artichoke extract.
Artichokes are packed with powerful nutrients.
Each cup, or 170 grams (g), of cooked artichoke contains (
- Calories: 90
- Carbs: 20 g
- Fiber: 10 g
- Protein: 5 g
- Fat: 0.6 g
- Folate: 34% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Copper: 21% of the DV
- Magnesium: 15% of the DV
- Vitamin C: 12% of the DV
- Niacin: 10% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 10% of the DV
Potassium: 9% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 9% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 7% of the DV
Artichokes are low in fat while rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Particularly high in folate and vitamin C, they also supply important minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium (
These delicious thistles come with only 90 calories per cooked cup (170 g) and around 5 g of protein, which is above average for a plant-based food (
To top it off, artichokes are also rich in a variety of antioxidants (
Artichokes are low in fat, high in fiber, and loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium. They are also rich in antioxidants.
Artichoke leaf extract may have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
A large review in over 700 people found that supplementing with artichoke leaf extract daily for 5–13 weeks led to a reduction in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol (
Another review of 14 studies concluded that supplementing with artichoke could significantly reduce levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol (
Additionally, a 2012 animal study reported a 30% reduction in LDL cholesterol and a 22% reduction in triglycerides after regular consumption of artichoke extract (
According to some older research, artichoke extract may affect cholesterol in several ways.
First, artichokes contain luteolin, an antioxidant which prevents cholesterol formation (
Second, artichoke leaf extract encourages your body to process cholesterol more efficiently, leading to lower overall levels (
Artichoke extract may reduce triglycerides and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol, which could support heart health.
Artichoke extract may aid people with high blood pressure.
In fact, several reviews have found that artichoke supplementation could significantly reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with high blood pressure levels (
How artichoke extract reduces blood pressure is not fully understood.
However, some older test-tube and animal studies indicate that artichoke extract promotes the enzyme eNOS, which plays a role in widening blood vessels (
In addition, artichokes are a good source of potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure (
That said, it is unclear whether consuming whole artichokes provides the same benefits, as the artichoke extract used in these studies is highly concentrated.
Artichoke extract may help lower blood pressure in people with already elevated levels.
Artichoke leaf extract may protect your liver from damage and promote the growth of new tissue (
It also increases the production of bile, which helps remove harmful toxins from your liver (
In one study, artichoke leaf extract decreased inflammation and liver cell death in mice with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (
Studies in humans also show positive effects on liver health.
For example, one trial in 90 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease revealed that consuming 600 milligrams (mg) of artichoke extract daily for 2 months led to improved liver function (
Other reviews have found that artichoke supplementation could reduce levels of liver enzymes. Elevated liver enzymes often indicate inflammation or damage to the liver (
Still, more research is needed to confirm the role of artichoke extract in treating liver disease.
Regular consumption of artichoke extract may help reduce inflammation and protect your liver from damage. However, more research is needed.
Artichokes are a great source of fiber, which can help keep your digestive system healthy by promoting friendly gut bacteria, reducing your risk of certain bowel cancers, and alleviating constipation and diarrhea (
Artichokes contain inulin, a type of fiber which acts as a prebiotic (
In one 2010 study, consuming 10 g of inulin derived from globe artichokes led to improvements in the composition of the gut microbiome after 3 weeks (
According to some older studies, artichoke extract may also provide relief from symptoms of indigestion, such as bloating, nausea, and heartburn (
One small study found that taking a supplement that contained ginger and artichoke before meals improved the movement of food through the digestive tract, which could potentially help ease indigestion (
However, because the supplement also contained ginger, it’s unclear how much of these results can be attributed to artichoke alone (
Artichoke leaf extract may maintain digestive health by boosting friendly gut bacteria and alleviating symptoms of indigestion.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a condition that affects your digestive system and can cause stomach pain, cramping, diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and flatulence (
In one older study in people with IBS, consuming artichoke leaf extract daily for 6 weeks helped ease symptoms. What’s more, 96% of participants rated the extract equally as effective as — if not better than — other IBS treatments, such as antidiarrheals and laxatives (
Another 2004 study in 208 people with IBS discovered that 1-2 capsules of artichoke leaf extract, consumed daily for 2 months, reduced symptoms by 26% and improved quality of life by 20% (
Artichoke extract may relieve symptoms in several ways.
One older animal study found that certain compounds in artichokes may have antispasmodic properties, meaning that they could help stop muscle spasms common in IBS (
Another 2010 study showed that the prebiotics found in artichoke could support gut health by improving the composition of the gut microbiome (
While artichoke extract seems promising for treating IBS symptoms, more recent, high quality human studies are needed.
Artichoke leaf extract may help treat IBS symptoms by reducing muscle spasms and improving the balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. However, more research is necessary.
Artichokes and artichoke leaf extract may help lower blood sugar levels.
In fact, one animal study found that certain compounds in artichoke could reduce blood sugar and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels in rats, which could be due to its antioxidant effects (
In another small study, artichoke extract supplementation enhanced blood sugar control and improved several other aspects of metabolic health — such as cholesterol levels and waist circumference — after 8 weeks (
What’s more, a review of nine studies concluded that artichoke and artichoke products could significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels in humans (
However, keep in mind that more research is still needed on the effects of artichoke consumption on blood sugar control.
Some evidence suggests that artichokes and artichoke leaf extract may lower blood sugar levels. However, more research is needed.
Animal and test-tube studies note that artichoke extract impaired cancer growth (
Certain antioxidants — including rutin, quercetin, silymarin, and gallic acid — in artichokes are thought to be responsible for these anticancer effects (
However, despite these promising results, no human studies exist. More research is needed.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that artichoke extract may fight the growth of cancer cells. However, no human studies exist, so more research is needed before conclusions can be drawn
Preparing and cooking artichokes is not as intimidating as it seems.
They can be steamed, boiled, grilled, roasted, or sautéed. You can also prepare them stuffed or breaded, adding spices and other seasonings for an extra burst of flavor.
Steaming is the most popular cooking method and usually takes 20–40 minutes, depending on the size. Alternatively, you can bake artichokes for 40 minutes at 350°F (177°C).
Keep in mind that both the leaves and the heart can be eaten.
Once cooked, the outer leaves can be pulled off and dipped in sauce, such as aioli or herb butter. Simply remove the edible flesh from the leaves by pulling them through your teeth.
Once the leaves are removed, carefully spoon out the fuzzy substance called the choke until you reach the heart. You can then scoop out the heart to eat alone or atop pizza or salad.
The edible parts of the artichoke include the outer leaves and heart. Once cooked, artichokes can be eaten hot or cold and served with different dipping sauces.
Consuming artichoke extract is generally considered safe, with few side effects reported (
Artichoke extract is not generally recommended for children and people who are pregnant breastfeeding, as there is a lack of research on its safety for these populations (
Similarly, people with certain health conditions — including severe liver or kidney disease — should not take artichoke extract unless advised by a doctor (
Some people may also be allergic to artichokes or artichoke extract. The risk may be higher for anyone allergic to plants from the same family, including daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, and marigolds (
There is currently insufficient data to establish dosing guidelines for artichoke extract.
However, typical doses used in human research range from 50–2,700 mg of artichoke leaf extract daily (
If you are unsure whether you should take artichoke extract, speak with a doctor for advice.
Side effects of artichoke extract are rare, though people with certain health conditions and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding may wish to avoid it. Typical doses range from 50–2,700 mg per day.
Artichokes are a nutritious, low carb food that may provide numerous health benefits.
That said, evidence is mostly limited to studies using concentrated artichoke extract.
Regular consumption of artichoke extract may aid cholesterol levels, blood pressure, liver health, IBS, indigestion, and blood sugar levels.