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Jerusalem Artichoke Benefits and Your Gallbladder Health

Posted by Deborah Graefer, L.Ac., MTOM on

I have always been a firm believer in the two pronged approach of lifestyle modification and supplementation. That’s why together with concentrated supplements for supporting healthy bile and digestion, I strongly suggest eating a gallbladder-friendly diet. Following either the moderate 2nd Gallbladder Menu plan or the strict, 30 Day Menu will help you to keep on track. What we eat determines the future of every cell in our body, including those of our gallbladders. And to help you choose must-have components for your daily diet, we at GallbladderAttack have already created a comprehensive Gallbladder Food List and highlighted a few superfoods like the beets and turmeric in previous blog posts and menus. This time, we are putting the spotlight on Jerusalem Artichokes.

The Jerusalem Artichoke Plant

The Jerusalem Artichoke plant (Helianthus tuberosus) called by many names – sunchoke, earth apple, or topinanbour, is a vegetable with a nutty sweet taste. It belongs to the Compositae family together with sunflowers and globe artichokes. It is a native of North America and has been grown in Europe since the 17th century but is now widely planted in temperate regions for its high adaptability. In fact, tubers left in the ground can survive the harsh winter. This sought after cluster, the tuber, resembles a knobby ginger root and is colored brown, white, red, or purple.

Aside from the edible tubers, people from long ago have been benefiting from Jerusalem artichoke stalks and leaves. The leaves have been used as folk medicine for bone fractures, wounds, swelling, and pain because of their ability to reduce fever, inflammation, pain, and spasm. Moreover, the stalks and leaves of the Jerusalem artichoke plant are believed to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anticancer activities. This is primarily because Jerusalem artichokes are a good source of inulin, a type of dietary fiber with numerous benefits.

Jerusalem Artichoke Nutrition Value

The key vitamins and minerals found in Jerusalem artichokes include the following:

  • Vitamin B Complex, especially Thiamine. (25% DV)
  • Choline (8% DV)
  • Vitamin C (10% DV)
  • Iron (63% DV)
  • Phosphorus (17% DV)
  • Potassium (14% DV)
  • Magnesium (6% DV)

*Daily Value is based on a 150g serving.

Jerusalem Artichoke Benefits for Gallbladder Patients

  • Liver Health and Bile Movement
  • Weight Management
  • Blood Sugar Regulation
  • Gut Health

1. Jerusalem Artichokes promote liver health and support healthy bile.

Inulin does wonders and that includes taking care of the liver, the bile, and essentially the gallbladder too. Its role is to capture excess fats and cholesterol, and “brush” the intestines as it passes through the digestive tract. This process helps in detoxifying the liver. Inulin also helps control blood sugar and serves as a liver protectant.

Apart from the benefits derived from the presence of inulin, the Jerusalem artichoke also helps control the NAMPT protein that is often elevated in individuals with high fructose diets. This protein is associated with inflammation, and correct NAMPT levels are crucial for proper liver function.

The combined components of Jerusalem artichokes are also believed to counteract fibrosis, helping those with liver fibrosis and cystic fibrosis, that can also lead to gallbladder diseases.

Lastly, a 2017 study proves the ability of Jerusalem artichoke tubers to improve glucose tolerance and hepatic lipid profiles among rats on a high-fat diet. The experiment has confirmed that the Jerusalem artichoke plant has anti-fatty liver effects. Further tests done with human subjects may confirm if Jerusalem artichokes can be beneficial for people who are suffering from NAFLD and NASH.

2.Jerusalem artichokes help with weight management.

Jerusalem artichokes are very rich in dietary fiber, making them a good ally for those who want to shed extra pounds. Aside from being a good alternative to potatoes, rice, sugar, and flour, they are also a good source of resistant starch which is considered to be a superfood for the gut. This kind of starch improves the metabolism while optimizing the gut flora.

The inulin in Jerusalem artichokes is also proven to help with weight management. Studies have shown that a daily dose of inulin can help decrease hunger hormones and increase satiety hormones without affecting energy intake.

3.Jerusalem artichokes have blood sugar-regulating properties.

An experiment made to observe the physiological effects of sunchoke-fortified diets confirmed that Jerusalem artichoke indeed has the ability to reduce serum glucose levels, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol in hyperglycemic rats. This claim is supported by a study published by the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014 concluding that the plant is useful in the prevention of the onset of Type 2 diabetes and NAFLD in high-fructose diet-fed rats.

A separate research study was also conducted in 2013 regarding hypoglycemia and liver protection among diabetic rats. Results showed that water extract of Jerusalem artichoke reversed the increase in serum glucose levels in the animal subjects. This suggests that sunchokes have the potential benefit of giving relief from diabetic symptoms by improving liver health. This study gives useful information for understanding the anti-diabetic effect of the plant. The other minerals found in Jerusalem artichokes such as copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc also contribute to its overall antidiabetic action.

4.Jerusalem artichoke improves overall digestive health.

We know that a sick gut may cause numerous diseases, affecting various body systems including the biliary system. This is how Jerusalem artichokes further help the gallbladder and the liver - by improving digestive symptoms, improving immunity, and supporting a healthy digestive system.

The Jerusalem artichoke plant contains heliangine and sesquinterpene that ease various GI issues like indigestion, dyspepsia, or slow digestion. This is on top of sesquinterpene’s other medicinal qualities making it a good anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial agent.

Inulin found in the plant also helps in regulating bowel movement, and improving the composition of the colonic microflora. This was proven by a few animal experiments, one of them stating that inulin is an effective antibiotic for livestock to control pathogens that cause diseases. A separate study in 2017 also tested the growth performance, nutrient digestibility, and the activity and composition of the large intestines of rats supplemented by Jerusalem artichokes. It concluded that diets supplemented with sunchokes helped improve fiber utilization along with an enhanced absorption of calcium and phosphorus. It also showed a positive shift in the population of good bacteria within the gut.

Jerusalem artichokes are also source of resistance starch, which is essentially a prebiotic, that helps feed the good bacteria and promotes overall gut health.

Lastly, Jerusalem artichokes are loaded with B-vitamins, including thiamine. This helps with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach.

Other Uses

The Jerusalem artichoke is not just good for gallbladder and liver patients. Aside from the health benefits enumerated above, Jerusalem artichokes are also known for their other properties:

  • Aphrodisiac
  • Diuretic
  • Spermatogenic – increasing sperm count
  • Tonic
  • Anti-rheumatic

Warning

Despite all the positive and healthy facts about Jerusalem artichokes, caution must still be exercised when taking this as a food source. This is because sesquiterpene lactone found in the plant is an allergen component. Individuals allergic to plants under the Compositae family (like daisy, sunflower, chrysanthemum, and dandelion) may also be allergic to sunchokes.

For those with low tolerance for inulin and fructose, taking too much Jerusalem artichoke may cause abdominal pain, bloating, and flatulence.

Lastly, the amount of sunchokes eaten per day should be limited. Eating more than 10 grams of inulin found in one-fourth cup of sunchokes may be harmful. So basically, eat one or two medium-sized sunchokes daily or every other day.

Sample Recipes

1.Roasted Sunchokes – Thinly cut sunchokes can be roasted in olive, coconut or avodaco oil for about 30 to 40 minutes until they are tender.

2.Mashed suchokes – This is a good alternative to mashed potatoes or rice. Steamed or boiled sunchokes can be mashed, seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, then served with other dishes or enjoyed by itself.



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