Cynara scolymus (globe artichoke)


Globe artichokes produce edible buds which are commonly used in Mediterranean cookery. Artichokes have among the highest anti-oxidant contents of all vegetables and are also a good source of folic acid, vitamins and minerals.
They also contain several bitter-tasting polyphenolic compounds, mainly in the leaves but also in the buds, including cynarine and chlorogenic acid. These protect the plant from herbivores. They affect the taste buds, causing food and drink taken with artichokes to taste sweeter. Cynarine is the main active compound in the plant extract which is one of four components in a drug used to treat liver diseases. It is an amphocholeretic compound – it stimulates the production of bile but also its elimination.

Artichokes also contain the guaianolide sesquiterpene lactone cynaratriol and the related compound cynaropicrin. The latter compound demonstrates anti-ageing effects. In traditional medicine, artichokes are used to treat diseases of the liver and gall-bladder and also to lower cholesterol levels. They were also considered to be an aphrodisiac.

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