Jerusalem Artichoke: A Healthier Alternative
July 7, 2022
July 7, 2022
Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) belongs to the Sunflower family (Asteraceae family). Jerusalem artichoke is also known as sunchoke, sunroot or wild sunflower. Though it sounds unusual, it is a type of tuber with several nutritional properties. Jerusalem artichokes have many positive effects on the human body, both physically and emotionally.
You can include it in various recipes in various forms. Although it originated in the United States, it gets extensively cultivated in the United Kingdom. Jerusalem artichoke is a plant grown to obtain the tuber or root, which you use as a vegetable. The tubers of these plants are strikingly similar to the ginger roots morphologically but are quite different in taste.
The name Jerusalem artichokes have no practical relation with Jerusalem. It was called Girasole in the United States as it is the Italian word for sunflower. But with use, it transformed into the word Jerusalem. The taste of Jerusalem Artichoke, one of the few edible tubers, resembles the flavour of original Artichoke, which explains the etymology of Jerusalem Artichoke.
If you know about Jerusalem Artichokes, you might have heard about the umpteen varieties available. It could put you in a fit of confusion while purchasing them from a store. The type, colour, and taste differ with every variety. The colour may vary between white, red, pale brown, and purple. Here we mention a few significant varieties and different types available of the same.
Before consuming any product, it is vital to know the nutritional contents of the food product. For example, according to USDA, 100g of Jerusalem Artichoke contains the following nutritional properties.
Jerusalem Artichoke is a sunflower species with a rich nutritional profile. It has a balanced combination of all essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins. Although it contains some carbohydrates, combining it with other healthy foods can make it highly beneficial to your health.
The impact of the nutrients mentioned above is not known to many. However, these nutritional properties are beneficial to the human body in several ways. A few of them are listed below.
Obesity occurs when a person consumes more than the required level of calories. Extra energy consumed by us is converted into fat and stored under the skin, known as adipose tissues. Therefore, excess fat gets deposited when the limit exceeds, increasing fat in the belly, thighs, buttocks, and other body parts. Jerusalem Artichokes are an excellent solution to this everlasting problem. Mostly, highly-processed foods add unwanted calories to your body. Thus dropping packaged foods and opting for healthy alternatives should be the goal.
Jerusalem artichokes contain digestible carbohydrates, dietary fibres, and minimal fats. As a result, it aids in digestion as well. Interestingly, the calories in one serving of Jerusalem Artichoke equals 2-3 squares of chocolate. Also, weight loss is the function of the right dietary choices. Therefore, consuming Jerusalem artichokes is a healthy choice as it can make you feel satiated and aid in weight loss.
Artichokes contain a good amount of potassium, iron, and other vitamins. It increases your body’s metabolism, thus increasing perspiration or sweating. In addition, the fibre content in Jerusalem artichokes helps break down the triglycerides. As inulin does not get assimilated in the intestine, it does not increase the body’s glucose level. Thus, it can be the best possible replacement for potatoes. Such a swap aids in cutting down on unnecessary calories.
Jerusalem Artichokes contain a good amount of Inulin fibre. This Inulin fibre regulates bowel movement by softening the stools in the rectum. This fibre also acts as a prebiotic. Thus, in other terms, food for probiotics helps them to multiply. This good bacteria reduces the number of harmful bacteria in the stomach and flushes out the toxins from the intestine. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties; thus, your gut will be free of infection or allergy. Jerusalem Artichokes also improve the body’s overall immune system by reducing the risk of gut-related or gastrointestinal diseases.
Jerusalem artichokes contain a good amount of potassium. Potassium is significant for the muscle contraction and relaxation process. Along with the muscle fibres, potassium acts as a gated channel that allows the entry or exit of impulses. It transmits the nerve impulses/ signals from the brain to the muscles and maintains the cell’s electrochemical balance. These impulses instruct the muscles to contract and relax based on the command. It also affects cardiac/ heart muscle contraction. Thus, an increased potassium level means a better function of muscles and bones. It would aid in better locomotion of your body. However, several adults fall short of an adequate potassium level.
Medical professionals advise pregnant women to increase their intake of potassium-based foods. The daily potassium intake for average adults is around 4700 mg and for pregnant women is 5100 mg. 100g of Jerusalem artichokes provides 429 mg of potassium. Thus, you can adjust the intake according to your preferences.
The inulin in Jerusalem artichokes is a short-chain polysaccharide (carbohydrates) that does not break down into sugars. Therefore, it regulates the glucose metabolism of the body, implying it does not add up to the sugar content of your body. Thus the blood sugar level remains the same. Reduced sugar and small inulin can help you control type 2 diabetes. It is also helpful in the prediabetes state.
The presence of inulin and potassium helps improve heart health. Potassium aids in maintaining cardiac muscle contraction and also reduces blood pressure. Potassium and sodium act as counterparts. Thus, potassium reduces the effects of excess sodium and reduces blood pressure. Inulin aids in improving the blood quality by lowering the blood sugar level and reducing the cholesterol content, thereby preventing coronary heart diseases like atherosclerosis, etc. Inulin also passes the alimentary canal to reach the gut and feeds the good bacteria.
These good bacteria reduce the effect of bad bacteria. Thus, evasion of bad bacteria from the gut regulates the renin-angiotensin mechanism, lowers cholesterol levels, and lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressures. (Normal Range; Systolic: upper limit- 120 mmHg, diastolic: lower limit- 80mmHg).
Jerusalem artichokes contain a good amount of proteins, even more than other roots and tubers. These proteins comprise sulphur-containing amino acids like cysteine, methionine, taurine, and homocysteine. These amino acids aid the liver in detoxifying and maintaining the flexibility of the connective tissue in the skin and the organs. Hence, consuming Jerusalem artichokes will add up to the daily quota of protein requirement.
Jerusalem Artichokes contain a good amount of iron. Iron is a vital part of the protein haemoglobin. Also, haemoglobin has a spherical structure that includes four iron molecules in a ferrous form. Haemoglobin aids in the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues while myoglobin stores oxygen. Thus increased iron intake means improvement in the function of haemoglobin, resulting in faster oxygen delivery to the cells and muscles.
If you do not fulfil the daily intake of iron, your muscles may weaken. Also, you may start experiencing fatigue leading to weak metabolism and locomotion. Thus, Jerusalem Artichokes are an excellent way to fulfil the requirement as it does not add up calories and provide the necessary amount.
Studies by scientists who inspected Jerusalem artichoke leaves show few residues of flavones and lactones. As a result, these regulate cellular activity and thus maintain contact inhibition. Also, contact inhibition is the contact between two cell borders during growth. Therefore, contact inhibition prevents the proliferation of the cells and helps to avoid cancerous cells’ development. Moreover, it gets maintained by flavonoids which even destroy the free radicals that can cause oxidative stress, thereby reducing the chances of procuring cancer.
Lactones help in reducing the environment and oxidative stress on the cells. The inulin present in Jerusalem artichokes also aids in preventing colon cancer. However, more research is required in this area.
You can use Jerusalem artichokes in a wide range of dishes. They are tubers, meaning they can go with any dish like a potato.
These recipes are worth trying as they are nutritious and, at the same time, enhance the benefits of Jerusalem artichokes.
The allergies to Jerusalem artichokes are relatively less. However, as it is a root vegetable, there may be possible allergies related to Jerusalem artichokes.
Gastrointestinal issues are the most prominent side effect of consuming Jerusalem Artichokes regularly in higher quantities. The inulin content present in Jerusalem Artichokes is known to cause gastric problems like gas and diarrhoea, which can lead to irregular bowel movements. Jerusalem Artichokes act as prebiotics and activate two good bacteria in the intestine- inulin and FOS. If the tuber is not fresh, this inulin breaks down into sugars, and the digestive system cannot digest the inulin. Inulin acts as the fat content of the plants.
They are assimilated into the plants when not in use. But even if inulin acts as a boon, overconsumption may lead to diarrhoea due to the imbalance of good and bad bacteria. If you face dysentery after consuming Jerusalem artichokes, lower the quantity until your colon gets used to it. The only solution is to look for fresh plants instead of old ones and limit their daily consumption. You can consult a nutritionist before including Jerusalem artichokes in your daily diet.
People with fructose intolerance inherently may experience extremely low blood pressure and accumulation of substances in the liver, even if they consume a small part of fructose. However, this is because the carbohydrate part of Jerusalem artichokes consists of fructose. Thus people having Hereditary Fructose Intolerance (HFI) should avoid Jerusalem artichokes.
Most of the symptoms of consumption of Jerusalem artichokes are due to the presence of inulin. Inulin passes through the alimentary canal intact as it is a non-reducing sugar, also known as non-digestible sugar. Thus, it is wise to consume it in lower quantities from the beginning as it can trigger severe symptoms.
As you must have seen in the side effects section, excessive consumption can cause severe symptoms in the digestive tract. To avoid this, you must be aware of the regularly prescribed quantities of consumption and the conditions involved.
The best quality Jerusalem Artichokes have fewer knobs and bumps and are smooth texture-wise. Avoid sunchokes that have green spots, wrinkled skins, etc. Before consuming too, you should peel and brush it well. The preferred safe quantity to consume Jerusalem Artichokes is 150g, i.e. around 1 cup. Most of the masses are not affected by sunchokes as it is a root tuber, just like a potato. However, if you are allergic to inulin, birch pollen, and fructose, then avoid Jerusalem Artichokes.
Jerusalem Artichokes carry several health benefits and are a suitable replacement for potatoes, thus helping you in shedding off the extra calories. Furthermore, it detoxifies the liver, improves heart health, regulates blood sugar levels, improves muscle contraction, and cures obesity.
With the gastrointestinal tract, Jerusalem artichokes act as a boon and a bane. In moderation, the dietary inulin fibre in sunchokes may cure colon infection and boost the good bacteria in the gut. However, if the limit exceeds, this same inulin may be a problem for your digestive tract, leading to irregular bowel movement, diarrhoea, and gas formation or flatulence. These side effects won’t be a massive problem if you consume them in moderation. If consumed in appropriate quantities, it acts as a great tuber that is crunchy and smooth in different dishes carrying lots of nutritional properties.
A. Yes, Jerusalem Artichokes are undoubtedly good for you as the nutritional value of Jerusalem artichokes includes iron and potassium, which aid in muscular development and nerve regulation. Jerusalem Artichokes’ glycemic or carbohydrate content is relatively less than that of potatoes as the dietary inulin fibre in sunchokes does not accumulate in the intestine, hence will not increase the calorie content. This feature also helps to maintain the blood sugar level of the body. Even if they are sweet to taste, there is practically negligible glucose content; hence they are not fattening.
A.The significant side effect of Jerusalem Artichokes is the presence of dietary inulin fibre. As this substance is non-digestible, there are chances that people are intolerant to it. Thus, people intolerant to inulin may experience indigestion, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and flatulence. You can avoid these if the consumption is in moderation.
A.There is no solid evidence of Jerusalem Artichokes being anti-inflammatory. But, studies are going on to identify a bioactive compound from the leaves of this plant (Helaingin) that shows anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers have found out that this compound might even prevent atherosclerosis.
A. Jerusalem Artichokes majorly contains a starch component-inulin. This inulin is a non-digestible starch component, hence is not digested by the digestive tract of human bodies. Also, this can be a problem as most people are intolerant to inulin. If the upper limit of consumption exceeds, this inulin will not be digested, thus leading to gas formation. Thus limiting the consumption of Jerusalem Artichokes will not make you gassy.
A. Inulin is a significant constituent of Jerusalem Artichokes. Therefore, this will not react with your body if consumed in moderation. But suppose you do not consume sunchokes for the entire year and start consuming them excessively over a short period. In that case, it may lead to diarrhoea, gas formation, indigestion, and several gut-related issues. In addition, anything in excess is harmful, so even if Jerusalem Artichokes contain several benefits, they are detrimental to your gastrointestinal tract if consumed in excess.
A. Yes, Jerusalem Artichoke is undoubtedly good for weight loss as, unlike potatoes, the inulin content in sunchokes does not accumulate in the digestive tract. One serving of sunchokes does not contain many calories but reasonable amounts of potassium and iron, which will aid in improving the body’s metabolism. These features aid in weight loss. Apart from this, Jerusalem Artichokes are suppressants of the appetite. Hence you might feel full even after consuming a small amount which is not the case with other snacks or tubers like a potato. Nevertheless, Jerusalem Artichokes should not be the only source to lose weight; you can add Jerusalem Artichokes to your weight loss diet.
A. Yes, Jerusalem Artichoke contains inulin, a dietary fibre prebiotic by nature. Studies have shown that Jerusalem Artichokes do contain prebiotic properties. This prebiotic acts on the intestinal lining and feeds the good bacteria in the gut. These good bacteria act on the harmful bacteria and affect their number, thus maintaining a balance. Therefore, this results in good digestive health with regular bowel movements. But if the inulin content increases in the body, the balance between the good and bad bacteria is disturbed, causing irritations in the bowel movements, gaseous stomach, and other gastrointestinal problems.
A. Yes, if you have cholesterol, Jerusalem Artichokes can be a cure for this. Inulin in Jerusalem Artichokes is not broken down into simple sugars and does not accumulate in the gut lining. Hence, it does not increase the calorie content of the body. Thus, the cholesterol level remains the same, unlike potatoes. Plus, cholesterol directly affects heart health, but potassium levels of Jerusalem Artichokes are high, so it maintains the heart contraction and relaxation rhythm. Thus, opting for Jerusalem Artichokes can reduce cholesterol levels and improve cardiac health.
A. Yes, Jerusalem Artichokes are suitable for the liver. The inulin content in Jerusalem Artichokes protects the liver, bile, and gallbladder. The primary function of inulin is to detoxify the liver by brushing out the toxins while passing through the digestive tract. It also helps capture the excess fats and cholesterol, to be precise, while passing through the alimentary canal. Thus, consuming Jerusalem Artichokes can prevent liver disorders.
A. Yes, Jerusalem Artichokes contain properties that can trigger the urinary bladder to pass on more urine. But this is not a side effect; instead, it is a boon as your liver will be regularly detoxified, and all the toxins will flush out along with the urine. The diuretic property is due to the presence of phytonutrients. Most artichokes are diuretic in nature.
A. Yes, Jerusalem Artichokes are a good source of potassium. Sunchokes majorly contribute to the daily potassium intake level. This potassium aids in smooth muscle contraction and well-developed bones. It may also assist in maintaining cardiac health. A 100g serving of Jerusalem Artichokes contain 429 mg of potassium. The daily intake value is 4700mg for average adults and 5100mg for pregnant women. Jerusalem Artichokes are one of the root family’s highest potassium sources. This potassium also helps in nerve transmission. Thus, including Jerusalem Artichokes would prevent potassium deficiency in your body.