Chinese artichoke (S. affinis), an edible tuber cultivated in China and Japan, is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, iron and vitamins.
Writing in Food Chemistry, researchers have highlighted its wide functional food and nutraceutical potential, much of which remains untapped.
For the study, researchers used ethanolic extracts from the tuber, which underwent a phytochemical analysis to determine more insights to the artichoke’s secondary metabolism and nutritional properties.
“Our comprehensive chemical analysis highlighted several compounds endowed with important biological activities, thus giving a chemical rationale for the dietary consumption of Chinese artichoke,” wrote the researchers.
They highlighted nine compounds, namely verbascoside, leucosceptoside A, martynoside, harpagide, 8-O-acetylharpagide, melittoside, 5-O-allosyloxy-aucubin, succinic acid and stachyose, which they say possess medicinal values.
Verbascoside has posed several interesting pharmacological characteristics, the study revealed, including having anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperalgesic, antioxidant, and anti-cancer effects.
Leucosceptoside A and martynoside showed important estrogenic and antioxidant properties.
On the other hand, Harpagide, 8-O-acetyl-harpagide, melittoside, and 5-O-allosyloxy-aucubin – while classified as new compounds, are also found in other species from the Stachys genus family where the Chinese artichoke belongs.
Harpagide helps in osteoporosis treatment, 8-O-acetyl-harpagide has antibacterial properties, and while melittoside and 5-O-allosyloxy-aucubin may have only moderate antioxidant activity, both compounds have pronounced anti-inflammatory effects.
Succinic acid functions as an anticonvulsant, the study adds, and has sedative and anxiolytic effects. This organic acid helps reduce glucose and cholesterol levels in blood, and is useful in treating diabetes mellitus and other metabolic disorders, said the study.
Lastly, Stachyose is a marker compound of Chinese artichoke also found in several vegetables, notably in pulses. It is used as a bulk sweetener, especially in beverages as a substitute for sucrose. The study pointed out that stachyose has a high potential as prebiotic ingredient in functional foods, and is capable of limiting the proliferation of some harmful bacteria, as well as of lowering plasma glucose levels.
While the Chinese artichoke’s fullest functional food and nutraceutical potential still remains to be tapped, researchers concluded it could be helpful when consumed by patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disorders.
Source: Food Chemistry
“Polar constituents, protection against reactive oxygen species, and nutritional value of Chinese artichoke (Stachys affinis Bunge)”
Authors: Alessandro Venditti, Claudio Frezza, et al.
The Japanese version of this story is available here.