The Jerusalem artichoke may not be the prettiest piece of produce around, but that shouldn’t keep you from eating it – especially if you want to improve your health.
This lumpy little root is actually packed with nutrients and minerals, and it comes with a whole slew of health benefits that just can’t be denied.
Let’s learn more about the Jerusalem artichoke now.
What is it?
The Jerusalem artichoke is a tuber, or root vegetable, which actually comes from a species of sunflower. It can be found throughout North America, including areas of the U.S. and Canada.
They’re often called sunroots or sunchokes, and they look similar to the ginger root – tan, thick, lumpy and hard. They can be used as a food item or to create a spirit called “Topinambur,” which is similar to brandy. Most people think they have a “nutty” flavor.
What are its Health Benefits?
The Jerusalem artichoke has a number of health benefits that can greatly improve your overall wellness. For one, they are one of the best sources of dietary fibers around. In fact, they actually have 25 percent of your daily recommended fiber in just one serving!
This fiber helps keep your digestive system healthy and regular, and it can even help aid in weight loss attempts, too. Fiber retains water in the gut, and it also takes your body longer to digest. That means you feel fuller longer and you’re not vulnerable to unwanted cravings or overeating.
Jerusalem artichokes are also high in antioxidants, like vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E and beta carotene, which can help ward off free radicals, reduce inflammation and even protect your body from certain types of cancer. They also have lots of protein, and they’re extremely low in calories, which makes them a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight.
On top of this, they’re also high in minerals like iron, copper and potassium (9 percent of your daily value!), and these high levels of potassium are particularly good for your skeletal systems. They can strengthen your bones and even lower your chances of fractures and breaks. Potassium is also vital to heart health and to your muscles.
Thanks to the prebiotic qualities of Jerusalem artichokes, they also make great immune system boosters, strengthening your body’s ability to protect itself from illness, infection and bacteria. They also have electrolytes, which can reduce your blood pressure, lower your chance of heart disease and stroke, and improve your circulation. They can decrease cholesterol, too.
Want stronger or longer hair? Jerusalem artichokes may be able to help. They contain about 20 percent of your daily recommended iron levels, and iron plays a crucial role in carrying oxygen to your hair and hair follicles. Iron can also help prevent hair loss, ward off thinning hair and boost hair growth – and who wouldn’t want that? Some studies even show iron can prevent premature graying and preserve hair color.
How do you Eat it?
As Jerusalem artichokes are a tuber, they can typically be eaten like others of their kind (potatoes, cassava, etc.) That means you can roast them, boast them, saute them, bake them or even slice them up and bake them into chips.
They also make a great little addition to a salad or stir fry. Just cut it into thin strips, toss in some olive oil and roast in the oven for about 25 minutes. Once crispy, add them to your dish to add some crunch! You can also eat them raw, but you’ll want to cut them super-thin if doing so, otherwise they could be a little hard to chew.
Jerusalem artichokes also make a great addition to a soup, adding a rich, creaminess to the mix, and they can work well as a slaw, too. Just add some cabbage, a little lemon juice and you’re good to go. A gratin, mash or hash can be a great option, too.
My favorite way to eat Jerusalem artichokes? That’d be in chip form – but not the fried, greasy kind that comes to mind. I make mind in the oven – with no bad-for-you oils at all. I just slice them thin, toss them in a small amount of quality olive oil, and add some sea salt. Then I lay them on a parchment-covered baking sheet and pop in the oven at 450 for about 30 minutes. When they’re done, they come out crispy, crunchy and totally grease-free. The perfect side dish for virtually any meal!
You can generally only find Jerusalem artichokes in the fall and winter. This makes them a great alternative to all those other winter veggies we’ve grown tired of, like squash, cauliflower and potatoes. With the Jerusalem artichoke, you get a unique flavor and a little more room to get creative with your meals.
Have you ever tried Jerusalem artichokes before? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments.