Over a decade of scientific research shows that artichoke leaf may help control blood sugar and improve the digestion of fat. But that’s not all.
Artichoke leaf may contain one of the most important antioxidants that you can find.
This is because the bioactive chemicals in artichoke leaf can survive the harsh environment of the digestive tract—and get to where you need them most!
Artichoke leaf is considered one of the most important antioxidants around. Research supports artichoke leaf to help control inflammatory signals associated with type 2 diabetes.
An antioxidant is a molecule that stops the oxidation, or breakdown, of other molecules that are critical to our health. If an antioxidant were a superhero, it's what would stand between a healthy cell and a villainous free radical. By and large, antioxidants protect the body by acting as a buffer, absorbing stress and taking the oxidative hit so that you don’t have to.
Too much oxidation can kill cells and destroy tissue. Oxidation is at the heart of every degenerative disease and can even cause cancer.
Antioxidants are available in fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. Examples of common antioxidants include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Besides these major antioxidants, there are several groups of plant chemicals that act like antioxidants in the body. Examples include:
- Flavonoids, found in berries, coffee and tea.
- Carotenoids, found in winter squash, carrots, tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables.
- Polyphenols, found in popular cooking spices and herbs, such as turmeric, rosemary, oregano and milk thistle.
Long-term storage or extended cooking times expose food to oxygen, which can destroy natural antioxidants. This is why processed foods contain fewer antioxidants than fresh, whole foods.
Figuring out the antioxidant value of food, spices, and herbs is far from straightforward. In fact, in 2012 the USDA withdrew the ORAC scale from use in food science, claiming it was not a valid way to measure the antioxidant value of food.
Nonetheless, researchers are committed to parsing out the effects of antioxidants in the human body.
WHAT IS THE ANTIOXIDANT VALUE OF ARTICHOKE LEAF?
Joanna Magielse and her colleagues from the University of Antwerp are the first to investigate the antioxidant value of artichoke leaf in vivo—or, within a living animal. While the team worked with mice, their research brings us one step closer to understanding the dynamic value of antioxidants in the human body.
They found that artichoke leaf helps control inflammatory signals in mice with type 2 diabetes.
The biggest surprise for researchers was that the active chemicals in artichoke leaf survived the gastrointestinal tract, making them available for the body to use. This means that the antioxidants in artichoke leaf are not broken down by gut microbes or by liver enzymes, which is the case with many other popular antioxidants like resveratrol.
Authors of the paper explain that artichoke leaf is not only a direct antioxidant, it also has an indirect antioxidant value in the body, modifying gene expression and influencing the pathways of inflammation and the production of antioxidant enzymes.
4 NON-ANTIOXIDANT BENEFITS OF ARTICHOKE LEAF
Research has found that antioxidants may also play important non-antioxidant roles in the body.
Specific antioxidants can influence the communication that occurs between cells. They make receptors within the cell more sensitive—explaining the ability of some antioxidants to combat insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Antioxidants can also regulate the expression of genes and halt the effects of inflammatory enzymes. Indeed, Dr. Magielse and her colleagues from the University of Antwerp emphasize that, “Indirect mechanisms…may contribute to the reduction of oxidative stress."
These “indirect” mechanisms include altered gene expression, the production of antioxidant enzymes and roadblocks along the inflammatory pathway.
Besides protecting the body from oxidative damage and the effects of aging, studies show that artichoke leaf may also:
- Control blood sugar
- Increase the secretion of bile, improving the digestion of fat
- Reduce levels of total cholesterol and “bad” cholesterol (LDL), while increasing levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL)
- Act as a prebiotic, supporting the growth of good microbes that live in the digestive tract
Scientists and the USDA now have data that confirms the value of antioxidants in the body. All antioxidants minimize the effects of aging, keeping you youthful and feeling energized.
What’s more, valuable plant chemicals in artichoke leaf survive digestion, helping to control the metabolic signs of type 2 diabetes, boost “good” cholesterol, and enhance digestion.
The takeaway? Eat more artichoke! Steamed, in salads, or in dips, it's a tasty way to increase your health.