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Artichoke

Botanical Name:Cynara Scolymus
Family:Asteraceae
Tribe:Cynareae
Genus:Cynara
Species: C. scolymus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order:Asterales

Common Name : Artichoke, Globe Artichoke

Habitat: Artichoke native to the Mediterranean region. Both wild forms and cultivated varieties (cultivars) exist.

Description:  The Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a perennial thistle originating in southern Europe around the Mediterranean. It grows to 1.5-2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50  to 80 cm long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8 to 15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the “heart”; the mass of inedible immature florets in the center of the bud are called the “choke.”

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A globe artichoke is a partially edible perennial thistle originating in southern Europe around the Mediterranean.

Artichoke may also refer to:

Jerusalem artichoke, a species of sunflower
Chinese artichoke, a species of woundwort
Project ARTICHOKE, a CIA operation
PH Artichoke, a designer Light fixture

Artichoke, Cardoon

Cultivation:
Globe Artichokes were first cultivated at Naples around the middle of the 9th century, and are said to have been introduced to France by Catherine de’ Medici, Dutch introduced artichokes to England, where they were growing in Henry VIII’s garden at Newhall in 1530. They were introduced to the United States in the 19th century, to Louisiana by French immigrants and to California by Spanish immigrants. The name has originated from ardi shauki , which is Arabic for ground-thorn, through the Italian, articiocco.

An artichoke flower.Today, the Globe Artichoke cultivation is concentrated in the contries bordering the Mediterranean basin. The main producers are Italy, Spain, and France. In the United States, California provides nearly 100% of the U.S. crop, and approximately 80 percent of that is grown in Monterey County; there, Castroville proclaims itself to be “The Artichoke Center of the World”. The cultivar ‘Green Globe‘ is virtually the only kind grown commercially in the U.S.

Artichokes can be produced from seeds or from perennials. Perennials produce the edible flower only during the second and subsequent year, while varieties from seeds can be annual. Commercial culture is limited to warm areas in USDA hardiness zone 7 and above. It requires good soil, regular watering and feeding plus frost protection in winter. Rooted suckers can be planted each year so that mature specimens can be disposed of after a few years, as each individual plant only lives a few years. The peak season for artichoke harvesting is the spring, but they continue to be harvested throughout the summer, with another peak period in mid autumn.

When harvesting, if they are cut from the ground so as to leave an inch or two of stem, artichokes possess good keeping qualities, frequently remaining quite fresh for two weeks or longer under average retail conditions.

The recently introduced hybrid cultivar ‘Imperial Star’ has been bred to produce in the first year without such measures. An even newer cultivar, ‘Northern Star’, is said to be able to overwinter in more northerly climates, and readily survive sub-zero temperatures. A second generation of new hybrid cultivars were bred during the last decade, much more homogeneous and stable than the former and more suitable for professional growers.

Apart from food use, the Globe Artichoke is also an attractive plant for its bright floral display, sometimes grown in herbaceous borders for its bold foliage and large purple flowerheads.

Varieties
Traditionally, globe artichoke has been grown by vegetative propagation of suckers, although seed planted cultivars has been introduced in the latest years.

Traditional cultivars (Vegetative multiplication):
Green color, large size: Camus de Bretagne, Castel, Blanc Hyerois (France), Green globe (USA).
Green color, medium size: Blanca de Tudela (Spain), Argentina, Española (Chile), Blanc d’Oran (Algeria), Sakiz, Bayrampsha (Turkey).
Purple color, large size: Romanesco, C3 (Italy).
Purple color, medium size: Violet de Provence (France), Brindisino, Catanese (Italy), Violet d’Algerie (Algeria), Baladi (Egypt).
Spined: Spinoso sardo (Italy), Criolla (Peru).
Varieties multipled by seeds:

Edible  Uses:

Cooking
Whole Globe Artichokes are prepared for cooking by removing all but 5-10 mm or so of the stem, and (optionally) cutting away about a quarter of each scale with scissors. This removes the thorns that can interfere with handling the leaves when eating. Then, the artichoke is boiled or steamed until tender, about 15-45 minutes. If boiling, salt can be added to the water, if desired. It may be preferable not to cover the pot while the artichokes are boiled, so that the acids will boil out into the air. Covered artichokes can turn brown due to the acids and chlorophyll oxidation.

The leaves are often removed and eaten one at a time, sometimes dipped in butter, mayonnaise, aioli, or other sauces.


Tea

Artichokes can also be made into an herbal tea; artichoke tea is produced as a commercial product in the Dalat region of Vietnam.photo.

Liquor
Artichoke is the primary flavor of the Italian liquor Cynar.

Medical uses:
The total antioxidant capacity of artichoke flower heads is one of the highest reported for vegetables. Cynarine is a chemical constituent in Cynara. The majority of the cynarine found in artichoke is located in the pulp of the leaves, though dried leaves and stems of artichoke also contain it. It inhibits taste receptors, making water (and other foods and drinks) seem sweet.

Studies have shown artichoke to aid digestion, liver function and gallbladder function, and raise the ratio of HDL to LDL. This reduces cholesterol levels, which diminishes the risk for arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Aqueous extracts from artichoke leaves have also been shown to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase and having a hypolipidemic influence, lowering blood cholesterol. Artichoke contains the bioactive agents apigenin and luteolin. C. scolymus also seems to have a bifidogenic effect on beneficial gut bacteria. Its effect in arresting pathogenic bacteria may be attributed to the notable presence of phenolic compounds. Both are higher in the baby anzio artichoke (Cyrnara scolymus). Artichoke leaf extract has proved helpful for patients with functional dyspepsia, and may ameliorate symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Artichoke leaves contain a wide number of active constituents, including cynarin,1,3 dicaffeoylquinic acid, 3-caffeoylquinic acid, and scolymoside. The choleretic (bile stimulating) action of the plant has been well documented.In an un controll clinical trial it is observed that 320 -640 mg of stadardized artichoke extract taken three times per day can reduce nausea,abdominal pain, constipation,and flatulence .

The standard extract has been used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides.

Studies have shown that blood cholesterol levels dropped after eating artichoke.  An anticholesterol drug called cynara is derived from this plant.  In 1940, a study in Japan showed that artichoke not only reduced cholesterol but it also increased bile production by the liver and worked as a good diuretic.  This make artichoke useful for gallbladder problems, nausea, indigestion, and abdominal distension.     It has been found that globe artichoke contains the extract cymarin, which is similar to silymarin.  Researchers discovered that this extract promotes liver regeneration and causes hyperaemia.  It was also found that an artichoke extract caused dyspeptic symptoms to disappear.  The researchers interpreted the reduction in cholinesterase levels to mean that the extract effected fatty degeneration of the liver.  In 1969 a team of French researchers patented an artichoke extract as a treatment for kidney and liver ailments.   Although the leaves are particularly effective, all parts of the plant are bitter.  A Mediterranean home recipe uses fresh artichoke leaf juice mixed with wine or water as a liver tonic.  It is also taken during the early stages of late-onset diabetes.  It is a good food for diabetics, since it significantly lowers blood sugar.  In France it has been used to treat rheumatic conditions.

Ethnomedical Uses
Dried or fresh leaves and/or stems of Cynara are used as a choleretic (to increase bile production), to treat gallstones, and as a tonic for convalescence.

Cynarin is the principal active constituent in Cynara; research in 2005 found that cynarin causes an increase in bile flow.

You may click to learn more about Artichoke

Known Hazards: Can cause allergic reactions (dermatitis) due to lactones. . Use with caution in cases of biliary obstruction. May hinder breast feeding (lactation)

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artichoke
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/artic066.html
http://www.prevention.com/cda/vendorarticle/artichoke/HN2038002/health/herb.

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cynara+scolymus

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm

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Ways To Reduce Salt Consumption

A few ways you can cut down on the salt on your food.

Measure salt carefully when preparing a dish
Use fresh ingredients over processed whenever you can
You will save umpteen milligrams of sodium by making your own sauces and soups, and simmering dried beans until soft (rather than opening a can).

Yes, it is a time commitment, but if you  are serious about salt reduction it’s time well spent. Make these staples more convenient by cooking them in big batches, and freezing in single-serving portions for later use.

Choose convenience foods wisely
Opt for frozen (unsauced) vegetables when you can’t get them fresh. Rinse the foods in a colander before using to get rid of some of the salt. Cut back or eliminate additional salt in a recipe that calls for canned goods.

Don’t add it if you can not taste it
As a rule, we don’t add salt to boiling water for pasta or potatoes in our kitchens. We prefer to add salt to a dish when its impact will be strongest   usually at the end of cooking. A little salt goes a longer way if it’s sprinkled on a food just before serving; you  wll taste it in every bite.

Measure, measure
We always use measuring spoons when adding salt to be sure we are not overdoing it. Even if a recipe calls for a “pinch” or to “salt to taste,” measure what you are adding, using a small amount (say, 1/8th teaspoon) at a time and tasting as you go.

Distract your palate
Acidic flavourings like lemon or lime juice and vinegar can help bring out a food  is inherent savouriness, helping you reduce or even eliminate salt.

Or, try a sprinkle of fresh grated lemon zest, chopped fresh or dried herbs, garlic or shallots; while not always a perfect replacement for salt, they can help ease the transition to lower-salt cooking by waking up other flavours. Get creative with seasoning, found in any spice aisle; just make sure they  are labelled   salt-free.

Boost vegetable flavours naturally
Because many vegetables have flavours our palates perceive as bitter, they tend to be a target for lots of added salt in recipes. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker to counteract bitterness, roast or grill your vegetables to help bring out their own natural sweetness and give them a nice caramelised exterior.

Source:The Times Of India

Flatulence

Flatulence….  Embarrassing Universal Problem

Flatulence is part of life! By Frank Morosky, Flatulence Guru

Flatulence is part of life. It is a natural result of good digestion. Most of us try to make light of it so as to not be embarrassed by its occurrence.

Flatulence ( fart, flatus, intestinal gas, breaking wind, SBD)- we all have it, and it is a normal part of life. It is a natural result of good digestion. Passing gas is a more familiar term to many people. Most of us try to make light of it so as to not be embarrassed by its occurrence. Gas pains can be uncomfortable and malodorous for many people but you can reduce the symptoms and find relief with proper diet control.

The average person expels gas 14 times every day. The amount of actual gas released ranges from as little as one cup to as much as one half gallon per day. Gas is made primarily of odorless vapors such as carbon dioxide, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and sometimes methane. The unpleasant odor of flatulence comes from bacteria in the large intestine that release small amounts of gases that contain hydrogen sulfide.(sulfur smell) Contrary to popular belief, women have just as many passages as men, and older people, have no more gas than younger individuals.

Flatulence occurs when a food does not break down completely in the stomach and small intestine. As a result, the food makes it into the large intestine in an undigested state. Most lower intestinal gas is produced when bacteria in your colon ferment carbohydrates that aren’t digested in your small intestine. The body does not digest and absorb some carbohydrates (the sugar, starches, and fiber found in many foods) in the small intestine because of a shortage or absence of certain enzymes.

This undigested food then passes from the small intestine into the large intestine, where normal, harmless bacteria break down the food, producing gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and, in about one-third of all people, methane. As much as 80 to 90 percent of rectal gas (flatulence) is formed by bacteria. Eventually these gases exit through the rectum. Certain foods produce more flatulence than others because they contain more indigestible carbohydrates than others. Beans are well known gas producers. The beans pass through the small intestine and arrive in the large intestine without being digested, which causes flatulence to occur.

Unfortunately, healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and legumes (beans and peas) are often the worst offenders. That’s because these foods are high in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves in water forming a gelatinous substance in the bowel. Fiber has many health benefits, including keeping your digestive tract in good working order, regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helping prevent heart attacks and other heart problems. But it can also lead to the formation of gas. In the colon the bacteria thrive on the undigestible fiber. These bacteria are harmless but for those who have an intestinal gas or flatus problem it is probably best to avoid or carefully test soluble fibers to see if they are contributing to intestinal gas.

On the other hand, insoluble fiber as found in wheat, rye, bran, and other grains does not dissolve in water. It is not used by intestinal colon bacteria as a food source, so these bacteria generally do not produce intestinal gas. Both soluble and insoluble fiber should be eaten on a daily basis.

By contrast, fats and proteins cause little gas. They are absorbed in the digestive tract before they get to the colon.

Sugars are known to create gas. Fructose is naturally present in onions, artichokes, pears, and wheat. It is also used as a sweetener in some soft drinks and fruit drinks. Sorbitol is a sugar found naturally in fruits, including apples, pears, peaches, and prunes. It is also used as an artificial sweetener in many dietetic foods and sugarfree candies and gums.

Foods that may cause gas include: Most beans, especially dried beans and peas, baked beans, soy beans, lima beans, vegetables, such as Cabbage; radishes; onions; broccoli; Brussels sprouts; cauliflower; cucumbers; sauerkraut; kohlrabi; asparagus, potatoes Fruits such as Prunes; apricots; apples; raisins; bananas. Carbonated beverages- Soft drinks, fruit drinks, milk and milk products, such as cheese and ice cream. Packaged foods prepared with lactose, such as bread, cereal, and salad dressing. Foods containing sorbitol, such as dietetic foods and sugarfree candies and gums.

Source    :www.flat-d.com