Artichoke Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Artichoke annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Artichokes take a little more work to prepare and eat than other vegetables (they have thorny points on their leaves that must be removed before eating, for one), but these fiber-rich, savory vegetables provide important health benefits.

Artichoke Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one medium artichoke (120g), cooked without salt.

  • Calories: 64
  • Fat: 0.4g
  • Sodium: 72mg
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugars: 1.2g
  • Protein: 3.5g

Carbs

Most of the calories in artichokes come from carbohydrate. There are 14 grams in a medium artichoke when you eat the leaves and the heart. The carbs are primarily fiber and starch. You'll also get just over 1 gram of sugar in a medium-sized artichoke.

Fat

There is a very small amount of fat in artichokes (just under half a gram). However, artichokes are often served with melted butter or creamy dip, which increases the fat content. Fried and stuffed artichokes are also high in fat and calories.

Protein

A medium-sized artichoke contains 3.5 grams of protein. This is similar to a small baked potato or about a cup of cooked broccoli.

Vitamins and Minerals

Artichokes are high in fiber and are a very good source of vitamin K and folate, which helps with red blood cell formation and prevention of neural tube defects.

They are also a good source of magnesium, a mineral that is important for nerve and muscle conduction and can help improve sleep. Artichokes also contain vitamin C.

Health Benefits 

Thanks to their fiber, micronutrient, and antioxidant content, including artichokes in your diet may help promote health and prevent some diseases and conditions.

Supports Heart Health

One medium artichoke contains 7 grams of fiber, contributing to nearly one-third of your daily fiber needs. Fiber has many health benefits, including a lowered risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.

Artichokes are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that may help to lower blood pressure. A medium artichoke has 343 milligrams of potassium (for reference, a similarly sized banana has 422 milligrams).

May Lower Cholesterol Levels

Artichokes may also support heart health by lowering cholesterol levels. Fiber contributes to this effect, as do some of the antioxidants in artichokes. Studies of artichoke leaf extract have shown it to be effective in reducing total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and triglycerides.

May Improve Liver Health

Among the most powerful phytonutrients in artichokes are cynarin and silymarin, which have strong positive effects on the liver, helping it clear out toxins.

Fights Effects of Aging

The antioxidants in artichokes, including vitamin C, are important in helping the body fight oxidative stress and inflammation. These processes are involved in many chronic and age-related diseases. Vitamin C also helps repair cells and supports immune function. Another study published in 2018 described how compounds in artichoke produce "anti-age effects" on the skin.

Promotes Bone Health

The vitamin K in artichokes is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for bone health and blood clotting.

May Help Fight Cancer

Research indicates that artichokes may contain properties that are anti-carcinogenic. One study published in 2015 (done on cancer cells in test tubes, not in humans) showed that the polyphenols—beneficial plant compounds with antioxidant qualities—in artichokes slowed the growth of breast cancer cells. Another 2015 study found similar effects in mesothelioma.

Improves Gastrointestinal Symptoms

Some preliminary research has shown that artichoke leaf extract may help reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

In addition, the fiber in artichokes can contribute to a lowered risk of diabetes, obesity, and gastrointestinal diseases such as reflux, ulcer, diverticulitis, and constipation. The fiber in artichokes includes prebiotics, which support "good" bacteria and are important for gut health.

Allergies

Allergy to artichoke and related plants in the Asteraceae family (including ragweed, chamomile, daisy and sunflower) is possible, especially as an environmental allergy that can cause eczema or hayfever. Some people who are allergic to these plants experience cross-reactivity with related foods, including artichoke, either when handling them or consuming them. 

Adverse Effects

If you take Coumadin (warfarin), a common prescription blood thinner, it's important to make sure that your vitamin K intake is consistent, meaning you eat about the same amount of foods containing vitamin K daily. Discuss your levels with your doctor so that you have a better understanding.

Varieties

There are more than 100 varieties of artichokes. They range in size from baby to jumbo, in color from dark green to purple, and in shape from large spheres to long, oval cylinders.

The Jerusalem artichoke, also known as a sunchoke, is a tuberous vegetable that's unrelated to leafy green "globe" artichokes.

You can also purchase jarred, canned, or frozen artichokes (usually just the hearts). Jarred or canned artichokes that are marinated in oil and vinegar tend to be high in calories and sodium. Look for artichokes packed in water, and rinse them before use.

When It's Best

Most of the artichokes in the United States come from California. Peak artichoke season is spring, but you can usually find fresh artichokes all year long.

Storage and Food Safety

When purchasing fresh artichokes, avoid those that have brown spots or split leaves. Choose artichokes with tightly packed leaves that are firm and feel heavy for their size. Store fresh artichokes in a plastic bag for up to five days and avoid washing until just before cooking. Frozen artichokes can last in the freezer for six months up to a year.

How to Prepare

To get started with a fresh artichoke, trim the bottom stem and cut off some of the top hard-tip leaves. Pull off some of the tougher outer skin and tougher outer leaves. The choke is now ready to be steamed.

For stuffed artichokes, again start by trimming the bottom and top and cutting off some of the harder leaves. Next, dig out the choke, either with a spoon or paring knife, to get out the hairy, spiny part.

To sauté your artichoke, follow the same technique, After you take out the choke, quarter the artichoke down the middle and sauté. Anytime you clean an artichoke, dump it in water with lemon and ice to keep it green until you cook it.

Artichoke hearts make a great addition to salads, sandwiches, and grain dishes. They can be a good toast topper as well as a filling addition to soups. Artichokes add color, texture, and filling fiber to egg and vegetable dishes.

You can also eat them on their own as a snack, appetizer, or side dish. The California Artichoke Advisory Board explains how to eat a cooked artichoke:

  1. Pull off one of the outer leaves ("petals").
  2. Dip the base of the petal into sauce or melted butter. Pull through teeth to scrape off and eat the soft, pulpy portion found at the base of the petal. Discard what remains of the petal.
  3. When you've eaten all the petals, you'll be left with a fuzzy central layer. Spoon this out and discard. What's left is the artichoke heart, which is entirely edible (and delicious).

Recipes

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