Alcachofa is the Spanish word for artichoke. People who follow the alcachofa diet take supplements that contain artichoke extract. Some people claim those supplements can help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite and boosting your metabolism. But those claims haven’t been supported by modern research.
Some studies suggest that artichoke extract does have other potential health benefits. For example, it may help improve your digestion, lower your cholesterol levels, and regulate your blood sugar. But there’s no clinical proof that alcachofa supplements will help you lose weight.
Talk to your doctor before taking alcachofa supplements or trying other weight loss aids.
Artichoke leaf extract (ALE) contains high concentrations of a compound called cynarin. Some evidence suggests it may help promote healthy digestion.
According to a review article published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition, cynarin helps stimulate your body’s production of bile. Bile helps your body digest fats and absorb nutrients from your food. ALE may help your body produce the bile it needs for good digestion. Some evidence suggests it may also help relieve upset stomachs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
Research suggests that ALE may help lower cholesterol levels. For example, the review article published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition reports that ALE can inhibit cholesterol synthesis. It may help lower your total blood cholesterol levels, as well as your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels. LDL is also known as “bad cholesterol.”
A review article published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews also found some evidence that ALE may help lower cholesterol levels. But the authors warn that more research is needed. They stop short of recommending ALE supplements for the treatment of high cholesterol.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is important for your overall health, especially the health of your heart. High cholesterol can cause plaque to build up in your arteries. This can lead to chest pain, heart attacks, and strokes. If you have high cholesterol, your doctor will likely advise you to eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly. They may also prescribe cholesterol-lowing drugs. They can help you assess the potential benefits and risks of adding artichoke extract supplements to your larger treatment plan.
Artichoke extract supplements may also help regulate your blood sugar levels. This may have benefits for people with prediabetes. If you have prediabetes, your fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels are higher than normal.
A study reported in Phytotherapy Research suggests that artichoke extract supplements may help lower FBG levels in overweight people. Participants who took the supplements showed improvements in their blood sugar levels. They also showed improvements in their blood cholesterol levels.
If left untreated, prediabetes can lead to diabetes. In turn, diabetes can raise your risk of many health problems, including kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, and diabetic coma. If you’re diagnosed with prediabetes, your doctor will likely encourage you to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and lose excess weight. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks of taking supplements, including artichoke extract supplements.
While some people claim that artichoke extract can help you lose weight, those claims haven’t been supported by scientific studies. If you want to lose weight, your doctor will likely advise you to cut calories from your diet and exercise more often.
To cut “empty calories,” avoid foods that are high in processed sugar and unhealthy fats. For example, limit deep-fried foods, cookies, cakes, sodas, and other sweets. Instead, choose foods that are not only low in added sugars, saturated fats, and trans fats, but also rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. For example, eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein.
According to the Mayo Clinic, fiber-rich foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber alternatives. They can satisfy your appetite for longer, which may help you avoid overeating. This can help you cut calories and lose excess weight. A diet rich in soluble fiber can also help lower your blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Although the purported benefits of artichoke extract for weight loss have yet to be supported by studies, artichokes are an excellent food choice. They’re low in calories and fat. They’re also rich in potassium, magnesium, folate, vitamin C, and fiber. Rather than taking supplements, it may be wise to add real artichokes to your diet, while making healthy food choices overall.
Pros and cons
Some research suggests that artichoke extract may help:
- promote healthy digestion
- lower total blood cholesterol and “bad cholesterol” levels
- lower blood sugar levels
There’s little evidence to suggest that artichoke extract promotes weight loss. In general, more research is needed to assess the potential benefits of taking artichoke extract supplements. More research is also needed to assess the safety of those supplements. While few side effects have been reported, full safety testing has yet to be conducted.
Talk to your doctor before taking alcachofa or artichoke extract supplements. They can help you assess the potential benefits and risks. They can also recommend other strategies to help you lose weight, lower your blood cholesterol levels, regulate your blood sugar, and promote healthy digestion.