Benefits of Artichoke Leaf Extract

Artichoke, also known as globe artichoke, is a plant from the thistle family. The buds of the plant are edible and considered highly nutritious. For centuries, artichoke has been cultivated and cooked to be served as part of fine dining preparations. Since it is not a very commonplace ingredient, it is slightly expensive to purchase commercially. However, in the more recent times, the scientific community has begun to understand this plant’s benefits.

Artichoke Leaf Extract

Artichoke Leaf Extract (ALE)

This is a healthy herbal extract which contains flavonoids, phenolic acids and lactones. Over the years, many scientists have conducted studies on various parts of the plant to find out that its leaves, and their extracts have an incredibly high amount of antioxidants in them, which make them a very healthy food. The extract encourages normal levels of bile flow, helping in the digestion of fats. It also exhibits carminative, antiemetic and spasmolytic characteristics.

ALE as a Cholesterol Fighter

The flavonoids in ALE help reduce cholesterol levels in the body. In the 1970s, a group of scientists led by H. Heckers, ran experiments for the treatment of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. During these experiments, they found that chemical compounds contained in ALE were able to significantly control and regulate cholesterol that causes an increase in the risk of both atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. In another 12 week, double blind study scientists in 2008, it was found that even modest doses of ALE can help bring down cholesterol levels by 4.2%. Several other studies have been performed over the course of the last decade to show that controlled consumption of ALE can effectively bring down cholesterol levels from 4% to 19%.

ALE for Digestive Health

Artichokes have a high concentration of the chemical compound cynarin. This is one of the primary compounds that was seen to have a positive effect on lowering cholesterol levels. People suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other digestive disorders such as dyspepsia, can find therapeutic relief with the continued use of ALE. Since cynarin regulates bile and helps absorb fat, it is also helpful in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins. Therefore, serving artichokes as an appetizer can help improve digestion as well as absorption of nutrients in food. ALE can significantly reduce incidences of IBS and improve the quality of life of those suffering from dyspepsia, as reported by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports.

ALE Improves Liver Function

Bile is one of the chief agents of digestion in the body. By boosting the production of bile, ALE improves the overall functioning and health of the liver. Bile is not only important for the digestion of fats in the human body, but is also responsible for the removal of toxins from it. The specific flavonoid called silymarin acts as a powerful agent of health for the liver. It prevents lipids from preoxidating in the liver cells, therefore preventing a dangerous and often fatal condition known as a fatty liver. Silymarin is also responsible for optimal liver functioning. Therefore, continued consumption of ALE can help keep your liver healthier for a longer period of time.

Antioxidants in ALE for Cancer Prevention

Apart from its many other chemical properties, ALE also consist of a healthy amount of antioxidants, which make it a very healthy food. Researchers believe, these polyphenol compounds can effectively contribute towards neutralizing oxygen radicals that can cause cancers in various parts of the body. Research has shown that continued consumption of artichokes and its leaf extracts can prevent leukemia, prostate cancer and blood cancer. Research has also shown that certain chemicals in ALE can help reduce the metastasis of cancer cells, reducing its proliferation in the human body and therefore helping manage its symptoms effectively. While the medical community by no means suggests replacing medical treatment with consumption of ALE for cancer treatment, it does suggest that consuming the extracts along with therapy under a doctor’s care and guidance can help reduce the symptoms and the progression of the disease.

With so many benefits, it is surprising that artichoke is still considered a rare delicacy and is yet to find its way into common household recipes. Yet, those who have developed a taste for this beautiful plant, swear by its delicate flavor and texture. The science community, on the other hand, swears by its medicinal property and its ability to grant you good health.

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Neha started her career as a research associate with the Azim Premji Foundation and went on to lead several development programs with various NGOs. In her free time she loves travelling and writing.

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