PEAK ARTICHOKE SEASON is in spring, but for something this nutritious, anytime is best. A
medium artichoke contains 10 grams of fiber, which aids digestion by stimulating bile production. Artichoke leaf extract (ALE) can help alleviate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and improve cholesterol levels. A 2004 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine study had 208 adults with IBS take 320 or 640 milligrams of artichoke extract daily for two months, and the subjects saw decreases in symptoms such as abdominal pain and constipation. A 2013 review in Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found ALE lowers cholesterol. So how do you prep an artichoke? Your best options are grilling or steaming. “Use kitchen scissors to cut off the stem and trim the tips of the leaves,” says Vikki Krinsky, celebrity private chef and former star of CBS’s Recipe Rehab. “Use your fingers too slightly open leaves away from the body.” Then place the artichoke in a pot in an inch or so of water, cover, and steam on medium heat for 25 to 40 minutes until leaves are tender and come off easily. Enjoy the leaves’ flesh, spoon the fuzzy choke from the heart (found at the base), and eat the heart as is or dip in garlic-infused olive oil.
Artichokes have a huge antioxidant payload and have been shown to benefit the brain, liver, and bones.