Properties and characteristics of thistles, seasonal must – Italian Cuisine

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Shape similar to celery, but close relative of the artichoke, which is very similar to its nutritive properties: we talk about the thistles, typically winter vegetables that are worth knowing for their precious characteristics and versatility in the kitchen.
We'll talk to the doctor Raffaella Melani, nutritionist biologist, to find out more closely and have some ideas to enhance them in the kitchen.

Cardi, used since ancient times for its beneficial effects

9357The thistle it is a perennial plant already used in antiquity. Tells the doctor Melani "There are traces of it from the 4th century BC. The Greeks, Romans and the Persians used it and considered it a precious vegetable, in these regions they were consumed, like today, the young shoots." In the Middle Ages it was intensively cultivated in Europe".

First of all its hepato-protective action

139207It has already been known for a long time for its effects hepato-protective, that is, benefits for the liver, as also told by numerous scientific articles that see him as a protagonist. Specification Melani "It is excellent in fact for the treatment of numerous disorders of the liver (such as dandelion) thanks to its own antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity".

Enemy of cholesterol and kidney friend

150407But it is not just the liver that benefits from its many virtues. Deepens the nutritionist "Recently it has been evaluated its effect also on kidneys is heart. Has hypocholesterolemic effect is reduces azotemia and uricemia. For this, it also proves effective on the hypertension of renal origin ".

Against prostate cancer and Alzheimer's

170425It also has other beneficial qualities.
Specification Raffaella Melani "Extracts prepared from the fruits of this plant are also used as a preventive agent for the prostate cancer and for prevention of Alzheimer's disease. In 2014, the plant ranked sixth among the twenty best herbal supplements all thanks to silymarin, the main active ingredient that represents a complex mixture that includes seven flavonolignans and flavanonol, taxifolin ".

Rich in calcium and useful for its vitamin c content

165374 If we analyze its composition, there are two relevant aspects to consider: the significant content of football and of C vitamin. clarifies Melani "Calcium contributes to normal blood coagulation, to the energy metabolism and to the muscular and neurotransmission function. It helps digestive enzymes and has a role in the process of cell division and specialization. It is also indispensable for bones and teeth: it supports normal bone growth and development in children and, above all, helps to reduce the loss of bone mineral in women in post-menopause".
Vitamin C is essential for the functioning of the immune system and to counteract oxidative stress.

Many ways to enhance it in the kitchen

To use the thistle, you must deprive it of the filamentous part outside and then cook it so you can enhance its nutritional properties. If you want to increase liver functionfor example, you can prepare it in batter or fried, with a previous blanching so as not to lose its nutrients, by virtue of the second cooking. If instead you want to enhance his draining function and lenitive on the gastric mucosa, it can be prepared boiled and seasoned with oil and lemon.

Elisa Nata
February 2019

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