Magnesium Rich Artichokes

Artichoke is a magnesium rich flower bud.The prickly cactus flowers known as artichokes are one of the food high in magnesium that everyone should be acquainted with. Though artichokes can be imposing to the novice, they are easy to handle, easier to cook and wonderful top eat. Magnesium rich foods rarely come in a more elegant package.

The artichoke is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium as well. With little sodium and no fat, the artichoke is a luxurious way to diet – a medium artichoke is about 25 calories.

It looks unusual because it is actually a kind of thistle, and the the artichoke (or the part we eat) is in fact the flower bud of a beautiful purple thistle flower. That said, as beautiful as it is when it flowers, a flowering artichoke is one that we can no longer eat!

First things first, when you buy artichokes look for a nice clean and green color, and check to see that the petals (leaves) allow you to wiggle them a bit. I prefer larger sizes, but some recipes may call for smaller sizes or even baby artichokes. Try to avoid those with many brown spots, which are caused by frost or simply by not being very fresh.

When you get the artichoke home, use a knife to cut the stem – the same as you would do for fresh cut flowers. You want to expose the still living part of the stem and stand the artichoke in a dish with a bit of water in it. Be sure to cut well enough that the artichoke can stand on its own. This will allow the artichoke to soak up a bit more water and plump out a bit – something that can make a great difference in taste when you are planning to boil them.

Now, when you are ready, the simplest and most elegant way to enjoy an artichoke is to boil it in salted water until tender. Once it’s tender, remove from the water and give it a chance to cool down. During the summer, you may wish to chill it.

To eat the artichoke, simply use your fingers to pull off one petal at a time, put the end that was attached to the stem in your mouth, and use your teeth to pull off the soft pulp at the moist end of the petal. The restArtichoke cutaway view of the petal can be tossed in a dish set to the side. Continue eating this way, and you’ll eventually reach the tender heart. This can be eaten by hand as well, but may be a bit messier. The whole experience of eating this way is one of luxury. Now who says getting magnesium rich foods in your diet can’t be fun?

Speaking of diets…. if you’re not on one, you might like to prepare a dip into which you can dip the petals before eating each one. The most popular is (surprise) mayonnaise, or mayonnaise mixed with mustard. if you are counting calories, then you may want to experiment with a little fresh lemon juice, or vinegar. Or better yet just keep the mayo to a minimum on each bite.

As you get closer to the heart, the magnesium in the artichoke increases, so be sure to eat it to the end.

Of course, though the above is the most popular way to enjoy an artichoke, it’s far from the only way. Keep reading to get a few ideas and great recipes so you can enjoy magnesium rich artichokes without getting bored. (Is getting bored with artichokes even possible??)

Visit our artichoke recipe page, or try one of the recipes below…

Artichoke Recipes

Artichokes and lima beans are super rich in magnesium

Artichoke and Lima Bean Garlic Saute

Ingredients:

Baby artichokes

Garlic

Lima Beans

Parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Lima beans are a famously magnesium rich food. Combined with the artichokes you can have a gourmet side dish that is high in magnesium and memorable. This very simple dish can be made by slowly cooking the artichokes and garlic in a pan with a bit of olive oil. As the garlic turns brown, finally add the cooked lima beans and the chopped parsley. Season as needed.

Deep Fried Artichokes

This delectable treat comes from the California Artichoke Advisory Board . Do pay them a visit for more artichoke info, and other recipes including some great Italian dishes.

Deep fried artichokes

From the California Artichoke Advisory Board website.

1 cup fish batter mix
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup water
¼ cup beer
2 pounds baby artichokes, prepared as directed and quartered*
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
solid all vegetable shortening for frying, about 1 inch deep

Heat shortening to 350 degrees F. Mix together the batter mix, baking powder, water and beer. Dip artichokes in batter mix, then roll in bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese. Fry 2 or 3 minutes or until light golden brown.

*For preparation of baby artichokes, trim to hearts, quarter, and place in water with lemon juice to prevent browning. Drain well before dipping in batter.

Magnesium Absorption and Effects of Other Supplements

Magnesium and fat from pork - what's the deal?The good news is, the fat you eat may be giving you more magnesium – even though it may not be a magnesium rich food itself.

At least sometimes.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, despite the demonization of fat, it has been a staple part of the human diet dating back to dawn of hunting and fire. Indeed, insufficient fat was a much bigger concern throughout most of history. As always, abundance turns the world upside down, and fat got on the wrong side of many dieticians, not to mention dieters.

Well, here’s a reason to make sure you have at least some fat in your diet. But, before you get too exited, evidence has shown that excess fat can actually block the absorption of magnesium.

So here goes – things that help you absorb more magnesium:

FAT

A study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Vol. 80, No. 2, 396-403, August 2004) looked at a small group of people to compare their absorption of carotenoids when eating salads with fat-free dressing as opposed to regular salad dressing with oil. Lo and behold, those who went fat-free absorbed almost no carotenoids, suggesting that the fat was needed for the body to access the nutrients.

I am very much opposed to “fat-free” concoctions for a number of reasons, not least being the manufactured crap they use to trick your body into tasting fat. Here’s another. If you’re worried about too much fat, do the old fashioned thing and reduce your portions. Your portions may be small, but at least they’ll be real, delicious and healthy.

VITAMIN C

Often cited as assisting magnesium absorption, there is very little evidence either way. But, since vitamin C is generally good for you, I’d rather err on the side of taking my supplements.

VITAMIN D

A 1972 study in the International Urology and Nephrology Journal in the Netherlands suggested that vitamin D could be helpful in assisting patients who needed greater absorption of magnesium through the intestine. This has been backed up by other studies, including “The Journal of Nutrition” study published in 1991.

However, and this is a big “however,” the 1991 study showed that vitamin D greatly increased the excretion of magnesium through the urine!

Easy come, easy go.

The jury is out on Vitamin D, but at the very least vitamin D supplements would seem to be unnecessary for magnesium absorption.

CALCIUM

This is a biggy. Many websites will tell you that calium is a magnesium antagonist, inhibiting its entry into cells. Other sites will tell you that they need each other. Magnesium helps calcium to work, and vice versa. They are in fact friends.

Not to confuse you, but all of the above appears to be true. Maybe it’s best to think of calcium of magnesium as a turbulent married couple (or even Tweedledee and Tweedledum)- not always helpful to each other, yet they both needCalcium and Magnesium are Tweedledum and Tweedledee the other. There’s a fine balance between the blow out fights, the affairs, and the love and support.

In the case of magnesium and calcium, many people have decided that the ration of 2 parts calcium to one part magnesium is this perfect ration.

This 2 to 1 ratio appears to be plucked out of thin air.

In fact, in Japan, which has a very low rate of heart disease, the ration is closer to 1/1.

The only thing I can say here is to take it easy on the calcium supplements.

VITAMIN B6

Long term, and massive doses, of oral vitamin B6 appear to boost magnesium levels. Since massive doses of anything should only be administered by a competent physician, just put this in the back of your mind. B6 shots will temporarily boost magnesium levels, and at the same time crash your calcium levels. So while B6 does encourage magnesium retention, it’s not something you’d want to try lightly.

A GOOD MEAL and MINERAL WATER

If you’re getting your magnesium from mineral water, a 2002 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that, while 50% of the water’s magnesium was absorbed when drunk without food, that amount greatly increased when the water was taken with a meal. To which we say “bon apetit!”

Going back to the fat, since most magnesium rich nuts, such as almonds and cashews, contain oil, you’re probably better off munching on them. So far as other supplements to boost your magnesium absorption, just forget it. Keep your consumption of alcohol, caffeine and carbonated drinks to a minimum, eat fresh foods, and especially green leafy things. Don’t go into mad scientist mode trying to make the perfect supplement concoction. Eat foods high in magnesium and enjoy life!