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It is the heart of the globe artichoke that many find so appealing, however the leaves, themselves are edible at the end of the leaf that is attached to the heart.
The globe artichoke is actually a thistle that originates in southern Europe and the Mediterranean.  The flowers of the thistle form what is known as the edible bud, which has many layers of scales. 

Where are Globe Artichokes Grown and How to Grow Them?

The largest producers of globe artichokes are grown in Spain, United States, Italy, and France.  In the United States, California produces almost 100% of the United States crop.  The globe artichoke is a warm climate plant that must be grown where there is little or no chance of harmful frost.  It requires regulated watering and fertile soil.  A globe artichoke plant generally only lasts for about three years and then must be replaced with a new plant.  

The globe artichoke needs a warm climate to grow and produce the edible bud.  They do not tolerate frost as frost will stunt or kill the plant.  The seeds should be sown approximately five inches apart from one another in rows that are at least 5-6 feet apart.  The seeds should be planted about one inch below the soil.  The seeds and young plants need to be watered at least 3-5 times per week during the hottest part of the day.  Globe artichoke plants are susceptible to insects and need to be cared for to prevent infestations of aphids which are generally drawn to the buds as they flower.  The globe artichoke generally takes 90-100 days to mature and most do not produce the buds the first year.  The plants should be harvested when the bud starts to open.  Cutting the globe artichoke 2-3 inches down from the bud will allow it to flower and produce a second bud for harvesting.  

Nutrients Found in Globe Artichoke

The globe artichoke is a good source for Vitamin C which is essential to help promote a strong and healthy immune system by fighting off harmful free radicals that tend to destroy healthy cells and are known to be cancer causing agents. 

They are also high in potassium which helps to balance the fluids in the body and maintain a normal and steady heartbeat.  Potassium is also needed to help send impulses from the nerves to make the muscles contract. 

Globe artichokes are an excellent source of dietary fiber which is very helpful in maintaining a regular digestive system and reduce or eliminate constipation. 

They are rich in Vitamin K which helps the body produce the clotting factor needed in the healing of wounds.

The globe artichoke is low in cholesterol and saturated fats which makes this an excellent food choice to maintain a healthy heart and reduce the risk of heart disease.  

Healthy ways to Prepare Globe Artichoke

The globe artichoke is best served after boiling the vegetable until the stems are tender. Steaming them is best as it helps to hold the nutritional value of the food as it is being cooked. They can also be baked slowly with a healthy stuffing imbedded between the leaves.  They can be served hot or cold.  The fat ends of the leaves are edible as you remove them from the stalk; the heart is below the leaves and filled with inedible “chokes” and should be spooned out before eating the heart.    

Health Benefits of Globe Artichoke

In an article released by Harvard Medical School it was stated that niacin, which is found in good supply in globe artichokes, is beneficial in lowering the bad cholesterol in the blood and increasing the good cholesterol. Lowering the bad cholesterol is imperative to keeping arteries from clogging and causing heart disease. 

Globe artichokes are a good source of folate which is known to help prevent birth defects

They are high in Vitamin C which is an antioxidant and helps to protect the body from infection and helps to build a strong immune system

Because the globe artichoke is an excellent source of dietary fiber, adding this food to your diet can help keep your digestive system functioning regularly.  

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