(Natural News) There’s no shortage of cholesterol-lowering foods; a quick search will bring up food items like oats, fatty fish, nuts, and soy. One food you won’t see listed too often is artichoke. Though not usually a part of any list of most heart-healthy foods, this humble vegetable is actually one of the best out there for your heart. And, as one study has recently shown, it’s just as good for your liver, too.
First, the research team obtained the required materials for their research: artichoke leaf and pulp extract, 60 male rats, and crystalline, powdered cholesterol. The week before the experiment, the rats were given the standard basal diet. According to the researchers, this was composed of 0.02 percent choline chloride, one percent vitamin mixture, four percent salt mixture, five percent cellulose, 10 percent corn oil, 12 percent casein, and 100 percent cornstarch.
Afterwards, the rats were segregated into two groups. The first group acted as the control and continued the basal diet without any alterations. The second group, or the hypercholesterolemic group, was given two percent cholesterol in addition to the basal diet for 14 days.
The second group was split into four smaller groups following that. Artichoke leaf extract in doses of 200 and 400 mg/kg were given to two subgroups, while the remaining subgroups received artichoke pulp extract in the same amounts. This occurred over a period of two weeks. During the entirety of the experiment, all rats were weighed each week.
The researchers then sampled the rats’ blood, hearts, and livers for analysis. They discovered that all doses of artichoke extract decreased the food efficiency ratio and body weight gain of the hypercholesterolemic rat group. This resulted in the rats’ cholesterol levels going down. Between the two types of extract, however, they found that the leaf-derived extract was better in terms of reducing serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Additionally, the researchers noted that artichoke extract had a positive effect on the rats’ livers as well. All hypercholesterolemic rats showed signs of reduced alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP). According to the researchers, these results showed that artichoke had a protective effect on the liver since high ALT, AST, and ALP levels typically point to liver problems. (Related: Artichoke extract found to lower high cholesterol and protect the liver from alcohol damage.)
“Thus, it was concluded that artichoke has a benefiting effect in cardiovascular and liver disease,” the researchers wrote in their study.
How you can enjoy artichoke every day
While good for you, artichokes can be rather difficult to swallow on their own. Luckily, the internet is awash with healthy artichoke recipes to appeal to all kinds of tastes. One example is the lemon rosemary grilled artichokes, courtesy of Ari’s Menu. This recipe takes 10 minutes to prepare and 25 minutes to cook, but delivers a dining experience that makes all the work worthwhile. For this, you’ll need:
- 2 large artichokes
- 2 lemons
- 1 sprig of finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cut the stems and tops off the artichokes, leaving behind about an inch of the stem.
- Fill a large pan with water and the juice of one lemon, then bring to a boil.
- Add the artichokes to the pan and boil them for 15 minutes or until softened. Remove from pan and let them stand to cool for five to 10 minutes.
- Cut the artichokes in half and scoop out the chokes.
- Drizzle the artichoke halves with half a tablespoon of olive oil and the zest of the other lemon. Season with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
- Grill the artichokes for five minutes on each side or until they’ve turned brown and softened.
- Serve and enjoy.
If you’d like to add more heart-healthy foods to your diet, just go to Heart.news for more information.