Jerusalem Artichoke – a root vegetable for weight loss
Jerusalem artichoke, botanically-named Helianthus tuberosus, is the tuber of a variety of perennial flower in the aster family closely related to the sunflower. The misnamed Jerusalem artichoke has no real link with Jerusalem – they are native to North America, and aren’t related to other artichokes which are part of the thistle family.
In appearance the Jerusalem artichoke looks a bit like a knobby pinky brown skinned ginger root and has a sweet, nutty flavour, similar to water chestnuts.
Benefits for weight management and blood sugar levels
Jerusalem artichokes unlike other root vegetables that are high in starch are rich in inulin. Inulin is not absorbed in the intestines reducing the calorie content of this vegetable and does not raise insulin levels like starch, glucose and fructose does. Therefore consuming inulin rich foods helps restore normal blood sugar levels benefiting diabetics, people with blood sugar problems and people wanting to lose body fat or counteract obesity.
Other health benefits
Inulin is also linked with good intestinal health due to its prebiotic (good bacteria promoting) properties. This then has a beneficial effect on digestion, absorption of nutrients especially minerals (calcium, magnesium & iron) and general wellbeing. And by promoting good bacteria, it helps to suppress microorganisms through competitive inhibition
Jerusalem artichokes have also been found to beneficial to cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.
Jerusalem artichokes also contain vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium and are a very good source of iron.
Roots should be free from soft spots, wrinkles or sprouting. Knobbles and unevenness are unavoidable (and not indicative of quality), but smoother, rounder artichokes are easier to prepare.
Jerusalem artichokes will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
Like potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke can be served with or without the skin – scrub clean and leave it on for maximum nutritional benefit. They can be pan fried, roasted, mashed or added to soups or stews.
Artichoke and Lentil Stew
This delicious recipe is based on a recipe told to me by Yas from ‘Fourth Village’ at Mosman.
250g Jerusalem artichokes
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups purified water or vegetable stock
1 cup lentils (any kind), soaked for a few hours or canned
1 bay leaf
6 swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
½ capsicum (any colour), diced
Scrub clean the artichokes, for nutritional potency and flavor leave the skin on. Then lightly pan fry them in a little oil in a large pot, continue turning to make sure they are cooked evenly on all sides, about 7mins.
Then add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the onion has softened and is aromatic.
Add the water, lentils, cloves and bay leaf; simmer for about 20-30mins until it becomes thick and stew like and the artichokes are soft and mushy. Add more water if necessary.
Add the mushrooms and capsicum and cook for a further 5-7mins.
Remove the cloves and bay leaf and serve with your favorite piece of meat, chicken or fish and some green veggies.
By Jodie Cariaga, Naturopath & Nutritionist.
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