A staple of the Mediterranean diet, the artichoke is a liver supportive powerhouse! The artichoke is easy to miss as you browse the grocery store and it might take some special preparation if you manage to find a fresh one, but it’s worth it! Artichoke protects the liver from damage by: - Encouraging the production of bile which carries the waste from detoxification away from the liver and into the digestive tract to be excreted; - Containing high levels of antioxidants which neutralize free radicals in the intermediary phase of detoxification; - Reducing the amount of fat that accumulates on the liver; - Providing fibre which improves gut motility and carries bile out of the body. Artichoke is a member of the same plant family as milk thistle, which you may have seen in the health food store as a liver supportive supplement. They both contain silymarin, an antioxidant that has shown to be liver protective. The advantage with artichoke is that you get the benefits in food form! It’s not just the silymarin that makes us love artichokes for our liver. They’re also: - Full of choline, a nutrient that prevents fat depositing on the liver; - Loaded with folate, a vitamin involved in your body's ability to create and use the liver protective nutrient choline; - Rich in the B-complex group of vitamins such as vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) -- all needed in the first phase of liver detoxification; - Loaded with vitamin C, an antioxidant used to neutralize the harmful and inflammatory free radicals of the first phase liver of detoxification; - Full of further antioxidants such as caffeic acid, ferulic acid, and of course silymarin; - Rich in the bitter cynarin which stimulates the liver to produce bile, as well as encouraging the liver to transport bile to the gallbladder. When these things don’t happen the liver is at a greater risk of damage. When we look at artichoke holistically, it’s nutrients lower cholesterol production while also increasing the excretion of cholesterol into bile. This helps lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while promoting HDL as the liver is able to function more efficiently. How to eat artichokes Fresh artichokes aren’t common in the grocery store, but if you’re lucky enough to find one, it can be steamed, boiled, roasted or sautéed. Both the leaves and the hearts can be eaten, but take special preparation. You’re most likely to find shelf stable artichokes pickled in jars, which are a great addition to a salad, pizza or pasta dish.