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The Health Benefits of Jerusalem Artichokes

 The Jerusalem artichoke is an herbaceous plant found in North America. It is, however, not an artichoke at all, and has no connection with the city of Jerusalem. The reason why artichoke replaced its original name, sunroot, is because its flavor is reminiscent of the famous vegetable. The addition of "Jerusalem" derives from the name given to the plant in Italian when it was first discovered, Girasole, and from then the name was changed to Jerusalem by the English settlers in North America.

Like the potato, the Jerusalem artichoke can be consumed in a number of ways and has a sweet taste when cooked. While peeling it takes time, its health benefits and special taste are worth the effort. Therefore, you are welcome to continue reading and discover that the Jerusalem artichoke is not only tasty, but also very healthy!

Jerusalem artichoke

1. Rich in potassium

Our bodies need potassium to cope with the effects of excess sodium, and it can be found in a large quantity in Jerusalem artichokes. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, maintaining proper potassium levels can reduce the risk of heart disease. The recommended daily intake of potassium is 4,700 mg, and its increase is especially beneficial for people with a risk of high blood pressure. One cup of Jerusalem artichoke contains 643 mg of potassium plus 6 mg of sodium, so by eating it you’ll only increase the daily intake of potassium in your body and prevent various heart diseases.

2. Rich in iron

Some diets advise avoiding foods rich in important minerals such as iron. This is a serious mistake because our bodies require iron for normal blood flow and blood clot prevention. In addition, iron and copper are very important for the formation of new blood cells, and in one cup of Jerusalem artichoke, you will find 28 percent and 20 percent of the recommended daily value of iron and copper, respectively. Studies conducted at the CNBC hospital in India found that a shortage of iron limits the supply of oxygen to the cells, and may lead to fatigue, anemia, and damage to the immune system. In order to avoid these risks, you can eat Jerusalem artichoke and increase your iron intake and not fear weight gain, as it has no fat and contains only 109 calories per cup.

3. Helps control blood cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol, then you might want to eat some Jerusalem artichoke. This vegetable allows our bodies to metabolize fats quickly, thus balancing cholesterol levels in the blood and protecting us from various cardiovascular diseases. In addition, the soluble fiber in Jerusalem artichoke may also help remove one of the lipoproteins (a large fatty complex containing the various types of cholesterol), which is also known as LDL - the "bad cholesterol." Lipoproteins can lead to the formation of cholesterol deposits behind the walls of blood vessels, which is how atherosclerosis gradually develops, and with it various heart diseases.

Jerusalem artichoke

4. Lowers blood pressure

Modern Western eating culture has us eating much more sodium than potassium, and as mentioned above, Jerusalem artichoke is packed full of potassium with very little sodium. The higher your potassium intake, the lower your blood pressure and the risk of other chronic diseases. In addition, the abundance of fiber in Jerusalem artichokes helps improve insulin performance in the body, which also helps lower blood pressure. A study conducted at the University of Science in Malaysia found that the biotic fibers (which pass through the small intestine and are digested when food reaches the colon) found in many plants, including Jerusalem artichokes, can reduce and prevent high blood pressure.

5. Rich in protein

Many people eat root vegetables because of their high protein content, but no root vegetable comes close to the Jerusalem artichoke when it comes to protein. Because proteins are among the essential building blocks of our survival, we should never give them up. The Jerusalem artichoke serves as a source of rich vegetable protein, suitable for vegetarians and vegans, one that can help you reduce appetite and hunger, accelerate metabolic processes, increase fat burning and reduce blood pressure.

6. Rich in amino acids essential for normal development

As noted above, the Jerusalem artichoke is rich in proteins, made up of a number of chemical compounds called amino acids. Therefore, it will be rich in amino acids, such as taurine, methionine, homocysteine, and cysteine. According to studies conducted at the University of Turkey, these amino acids are essential for the production of connective tissue in the skeleton, skin, hair, nails and for normal growth and development, while also allowing the liver to detoxify.

Jerusalem artichoke

7. Strengthens the immune system

In a Jerusalem artichoke, you can find high amounts of antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E. These vitamins, together with flavonoid compounds found in Jerusalem artichokes, help the body cope with free radicals. By doing so they manage to protect our bodies from cancer, infections, viral coughs, and even colds. In addition, most of the carbohydrates in Jerusalem artichokes are in inulin form (similar to starch in potatoes) that provide probiotics beneficial to the body. Probiotics (beneficial bacteria that are naturally created by this process of fermentation) help improve immune function, lower cholesterol and prevent disease-causing bacteria from multiplying.

8. Rich in fiber

The Jerusalem artichoke is a great source of fiber. These fibers can regulate bowel movements and prevent various cancers. Although this vegetable has no direct effect on colorectal cancer, the fiber in it helps suppress the development of this cancer. In addition, according to a study at the University of Arizona, it was found that fiber may help reduce the risk of high cholesterol, constipation, heart disease, various types of cancer and ease control of blood sugar while maintaining a healthy and normal weight.

9. Keeps blood sugar levels normal

Since ancient times, the Jerusalem artichoke was used to reduce blood sugar levels. Maintaining a high level of insulin causes it to nourish the best bacteria in the intestines, and thus help keep the body's sugar levels under control, especially for diabetics. In a study conducted at the University of Chonen Si in South Korea, it was found that diabetic animals that ate meals made up of at least 5 percent Jerusalem artichoke for eight weeks showed an improvement in sugar levels and an improvement in their ability to maintain normal blood sugar levels along with increased insulin secretion. In addition, the study showed that the Jerusalem artichoke improves the functioning of insulin secretion cells in the pancreas.

Jerusalem artichoke

Now that you've learned all about the health benefits of Jerusalem artichokes, you probably want to start peeling and cooking them. You can prepare the Jerusalem artichoke in a variety of ways such as frying, baking, cooking, roasting and more, and it goes hand-in-hand with fish, meats, salads and as a dish in itself. This simple recipe will give you an ideal introduction to the world of Jerusalem artichokes.

Jerusalem artichoke
Ingredients for 4 servings:
  • 600 grams of Jerusalem artichoke
  • Olive oil
  • 4-6 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peels and sliced
  • 2-3 ml white wine vinegar (small mixture)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
Preparation:
1. Peel the Jerusalem artichoke and cut it into medium pieces. 
2. Heat a pan with olive oil and fry the artichokes on medium heat until golden on all sides.
3. Add the bay leaves, garlic cloves, white wine vinegar, salt, and pepper, lightly mix and cover the pan.
4. After 20-25 minutes of frying, remove the lid and remove the bay leaves. Continue frying for another five minutes and serve the dish warm.
 
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