The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) or sunroot is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is not related to the domestic artichoke, but rather to asters, daisies, and sunflowers. Sunroots are cultivated for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.
Here are 7 health benefits of the Jerusalem artichoke.
Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber compounds that stimulate the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria that colonize the gastrointestinal tract by acting as a substrate for them. Jerusalem artichokes contain plenty of inulin, which stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria and fights harmful bacteria.
The glycemic index (GI) classifies foods and beverages based on their ability to increase the level of glucose in the blood. Carbohydrates in foods with a high GI score break down into simple sugars quickly and cause blood glucose levels to spike. This peak is followed by a sharp drop in blood glucose levels. Studies suggest that the fluctuating blood glucose levels linked with eating high GI foods may significantly increase the risk of fatigue, heart disease, altered mood, resistance, and diabetes. The Jerusalem artichoke contains a glycemic value of 11 and is considered a low GI food. This means that the Jerusalem artichoke provides a slow and stable rise and fall in blood glucose levels.
Jerusalem artichokes are loaded with B-vitamins, including thiamine (B1). Thiamine helps with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Lack of hydrochloric acid may impair protein digestion and cause stomach pain by inhibiting the activation of the enzyme pepsin. Also, the tuber is a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber is the indigestible portion of food derived from plants. A high-fiber diet can normalize bowel movements, preventing some cancers.
Soluble fiber, found in the Jerusalem artichoke, may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol levels. Studies suggested that fiber may have other heart-health benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
The Jerusalem artichoke is high in potassium and low in sodium, which lowers blood pressure. One cup of the tuber contains 643 milligrams of potassium and only 6 milligrams of sodium. Also, the fiber content in the Jerusalem artichoke is helpful in improving the performance of insulin in the body, which aids in the lowering of blood pressure.
Copper and iron are essential for the new blood cell formation. One cup of the Jerusalem artichoke contains 28 percent and 20 percent of the daily recommended value of iron and copper, respectively. A deficiency in iron can lead to anemia.
The Jerusalem artichoke contains small amounts of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E. These vitamins together with flavonoid compounds like carotenes helps seek and eliminate free radicals, offering the body protection from cancers, inflammation, viral cough, and the common cold.
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