Why Jerusalem artichokes are good for you! Health Benefits and Nutritional Properties.
Sweet and crunchy when raw, smooth and aromatic when cooked. This healthy and highly nutritious root vegetable, which makes a nice, health boosting addition to soups and salads, is highly underestimated due a largely unjustified unpopularity.
The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), native to eastern North America, belongs to the sunflower family of plants. Also known as the earth apple, sunchoke, sunroot and topinambour.
The root is similar to ginger root in appearance.
The skin of the root, which varies in colour from light brown and white to purple and red, can be eaten as well, provided that you clean it thoroughly before eating.
Let us highlight and praise general health benefits this special vegetable comprises.
An overview of the most important health benefits and nutritional properties of Jerusalem artichokes.
1. Jerusalem artichokes grow easily, displaying a resistance to disease, a characteristic that is attractive not only to organic growers who are against any synthetic chemicals, but also to consumers who love the fact that their food does not contain pesticide.
2. Jerusalem artichokes have a gentle effect on blood glucose
Although they are sweet, unlike potatoes, the carbohydrates in them are mainly non-starch, but inulin. Inulin is a soluble non-starch naturally occurring polysaccharide which belongs to a class of dietary fibres known as fructans (polymers of fructose molecules). Inulin should not be confused for insulin, which is a hormone.
Inulin does not undergo metabolism inside the human body and does not cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels which is crucial for diabetics.
Just to remember, when the carbohydrates in food cause the blood glucose levels to rise, the body responds by secreting a pancreatic hormone called insulin. One of insulin’s biological purposes is to stimulate the uptake of blood glucose by the body’s liver, muscle and fat cells which can then store it for later energy use. The higher the blood glucose levels, the more energy will be stored, particularly in the form of body fat.
3. Jerusalem artichokes have prebiotic effects
Inulin is also a prebiotic which stimulate the growth of healthy bifidobacteria in the large intestine. Bifidobacteria are naturally present in the intestines and fight harmful bacteria in the gut, prevent constipation, help reduce intestinal carcinogenic enzymes, and boost the immune system.
4. Jerusalem artichokes are an excellent source of potassium, iron, Vitamins C and B1 (Thiamine)
Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte which controls blood pressure and heart rate, and muscle functions. It may also improve the bone health and reduce risk of osteoporosis.
Jerusalem artichokes are packed with B vitamins, particularly thiamine.
Thiamine is crucial for healthy skin and hair, the proper functioning of the nervous system and the muscles. It is also needed for carbohydrate metabolism as well as for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. Lack of hydrochloric acid may impair protein digestion. Furthermore, low acid levels in the stomach increase the risk of bacterial overgrowth in the stomach, which in turn may cause diarrhoea or decreased absorption of health benefiting vitamins and minerals.
Due to the presence of inulin in Jerusalem artichoke that cannot be broken down by the digestive system and passes through to the colon intact (until it is metabolized by bacteria in the intestines), this can cause flatulence and, in some cases, gastric pain.
One way to mitigate this possible unpleasant effect is not to eat them raw or start with a small portion.
Written by Erica Vtoraja
Paneted by Nikole Bukrejeva