The Amazing Artichoke!

May 6, 2013

Artichokes do not get the credit that they deserve as a superfood.  But their antioxidant capacity puts them in the top four vegetables and seventh overall according to a study conducted by the  U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The Artichoke, also known as cynara, is a member of the thistle family, a group of flowering plants that have sharp leaves (and also Winne the Pooh’s friend Eeyore’s favorite food!). The edible part of the plant is the flower base which if allowed to blossom, can create a beautiful huge purple flower.

A wonderful spring vegetable that are packed with phytonutrients, artichokes were prized in Ancient Roman times as an aphrodisiac. A wonderful natural remedy for elevated cholesterol, the artichoke doesn’t just lower cholesterol, it optimizes it – lowering LDL levels, and raising HDL levels. A double-blind placebo controlled German study found 1,800 mg of artichoke extract to lower LDL by 22.9% in just 6 weeks (compared to 6% in the placebo group), read more!  Artichoke is also supportive of liver detoxification, which is important for healthy cholesterol levels, hormone regulation, and much more.

Although most people’s favorite part of the artichoke is the heart, the leaves contain the vast majority of the cynarin, which offers the powerful health benefits.  You can buy the extract, or artichoke supplements, but one of the best ways to extract the nutrition is to make organic artichoke tea.

Artichoke tea**:

The green liquid left in the pot that most people throw away after you cook an artichoke is basically artichoke tea!

  1. I always start with an organic artichoke*, because I don’t want to be drinking pesticide tea. Non-organic artichokes can be heavily sprayed with pesticides.
  2. Rinse the artichoke off well to get rid of any dirt or critters, and cut off the very bottom of the stem.
  3. Slice it lengthwise down the middle into 2 parts, put them into a large pot of fresh clean filtered water, and bring it to a boil.  Optional – you could add a quarter sized slice of peeled fresh ginger root, and even a peeled turmeric root.
  4. Once it reaches boiling, lower the temperature and cook for about 20 mins on a very low simmer.
  5. Turn off the stove, and remove the pot from the heat and allow the liquid to cool for about 20-30 mins. Take out the artichoke – and eat it.  I like to save some of the leaves, see below.  The leftover “water” is your tea.  Now you have artichoke tea!
  6. The tea can be consumed warm or cool.  Add a touch of your favorite natural sweetener if you like it sweetened. I also like to add in fresh squeeezed lemon juice too.
  7. Once it is completed cooled, you can store the extra tea in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (before you put it into the refrigerator, make sure it has cooled to room temperature first).

Note: if your tea is a drab brownish green color, you might have overcooked it.  Sometimes, the tea will start out a lightish green and will brighten in the refrigerator over a few hours.

*If you can not find an organic artichoke, or do not want to go through all the above steps – you could use an artichoke tincture, or organic artichoke tea bags

Artichoke tea supports the liver to cleanse by enhancing the excretion of unwanted toxins in bile. When the liver is better supported, it can help to improve hormone regulation, and improve the quality of the skin:

  • Drinking 1-2 cups of artichoke tea daily is a nice remedy to try for the treatment and prevention of acne.
  • After you cook your artichoke, store the leaves in the refrigerator.  You can cut them into little half moon slices, which you can put under the eyes to help to reduce inflammation – similar to how you might use a cucumber.  They will last about 4 days in the refrigerator. Note: You can store them in the freezer to make them last longer – but make sure to completely thaw them out before putting them on the tender skin under the eye first.

The above recipe is one of the over 50 recipes in Sara’s book The Perfect Metabolism Plan.

**Note:  Persons taking prescription medications, an allergy to the thistle family, or with an existing health condition should consult a doctor before taking the above foods, herbs, vitamins or supplements to be sure there are no interactions.  Do not stop taking your prescription medications without consulting your doctor.


Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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