March 16th is National Artichoke Hearts Day. According to the California Artichoke Advisory Board, artichokes are a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, folate and magnesium. The antioxidants in artichokes are very good for your liver and help promote healthy skin. Artichokes are also high in fiber, calcium and protein while low in calories. For all of these reasons, along with being fat-free and cholesterol free, artichokes are truly a healthy and delicious food to celebrate!
- The total antioxidant capacity of an artichoke flower head is one of the highest reported for vegetables.
- They make for a great low sodium snack and lend themselves well to other snacks like artichoke dip, as well as a pizza topping.
- The artichoke is the unopened “flower” bloom of a thistle plant.
- A medium sized globe artichoke is fat free and has only 25 calories.
- 40% of the world’s artichokes are canned or jarred.
- The artichoke is technically a flower bud that has not yet bloomed.
- Artichokes were introduced to England by the Dutch in the 1500s and were brought to the United States in the 19th century by French and Spanish immigrants.
- Until the 16th century, women were prohibited from eating them in many countries because they were still considered to have aphrodisiac properties.
- In 1576, Dr. Bartolomeo Boldo wrote in the “Book of Nature” that the artichoke “has the virtue of … provoking Venus for both men and women; for women making them more desirable, and helping the men who are in these matters rather tardy.”
- California produces 100% of the United States artichoke crop, with Castroville, California calling itself the “Artichoke Center of the World.”
- In 1947 Marilyn Monroe, then still going by her given name Norma Jean, was crowned Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen.
- The heart is the best part of the artichoke. It is also very beneficial to the human heart because it can lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.
- How many calories are in an artichoke? Very few: just 60 calories in a medium artichoke.
- A study from the University of Slovenia found that artichoke leaf extract may inhibit the growth of leukemia cells.