Although it is not currently one of the most consumed plant-based foods in our country, it was in past generations when it was collected in the fields and gutters for self-consumption.
Thistle is a food that has many nutritional properties. It is rich in fiber and a great source of minerals , including: calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and iron . But these are not its only properties but it also contains vitamins , among which vitamin B1, B2, B3 and C stand out.
As you can see, it is a product whose consumption can be very beneficial to our health. Although currently it is more in disuse in the kitchen.
But do you know what kind of vegetable thistle is ? We make it clear to you in this post.
What kind of vegetable is thistle?
As you have just seen, thistle has many beneficial nutrients for our body. In addition, depending on the type we consume, some of them also have properties that allow treating liver diseases such as milk thistle.
But what kind of vegetable is it really? The thistle, whose scientific name is Cynara cardunculus, belongs to the Asteraceae family . This family of vegetables is also made up of other vegetables such as:
- Leafy: chicory, lettuce, endive and endive.
- Flower: artichoke
- Stem: thistle.
Thistle: where it comes from
This food was already cultivated in the time of the ancient Romans . In fact, they considered it a luxury reserved only for the upper classes, so not everyone had access to this food.
With respect to its origin, it seems to be situated in the Mediterranean account. In fact, this product grows spontaneously and apparently, after discovering its use in food, it spread to some countries such as Italy, Spain and France. All this during the Middle Ages.
It is known by the common name of Thistle, Thistles, Cardillos, Capacaballo, Wild Alcaucil, Castile Thistle, Eating Thistle, Penquero Thistle, Huerta Thistle, but its scientific or Latin name is Cynara cardunculus. It belongs to the botanical family of the Composites together with the endive, the endive, the chicory, the artichoke and the lettuce.
The thistle is a vegetable native to the countries of the Mediterranean basin, where its greatest consumption continues to be centered. But although it is a typical Mediterranean vegetable, the thistle is highly appreciated in Germanic countries, where it is considered an exotic delicacy.
- Full of Spain.
- Enhanced white.
What are the general characteristics of thistle?
In reference to its physical characteristics , the thistle is a vegetable that is grown annually and that can exceed one meter in height as well as being approximately more than half a meter wide.
It has large greenish leaves and strong, straight stems with streaks. This is precisely where the edible part is extracted, which are the stalks or petioles and which are characterized by being striated and hollow.
With regard to nutritional properties , thistle has:
- Minerals : such as potassium, calcium, sodium, iron, selenium, and phosphorus.
- Vitamins : like C, B1, B2 and B3.
- Fiber : it has a high content and only 20 kcal per 100 grams. This makes it a great food if we are looking to lose weight.
- Other substances such as inulin and cynarin .
The thistle is a vegetable that can be very useful for our health. In fact, it can have a large number of benefits like the ones listed below.
These are the advantages of consuming thistle:
- It is a vegetable that can help us improve our digestion , which is why it is often taken as an infusion after large meals.
- It also reduces cholesterol levels by cleaning the blood and even makes it more fluid thanks to its high water content.
- Being a vegetable that has a high water content, it helps us clean our body and also the urinary system. That is why it helps us take care of our liver, prevents certain diseases and also gallstones.
- It is a great strong fiber so it also helps the digestive system and prevents constipation.
- Since it has inulin , it can help people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels.
As you can see, thistle is a very beneficial vegetable for our health and it is important that you begin to incorporate it into your diet.
How does it look like?
- Color: The thistle plant resembles that of the artichoke, so the stem and leaves are bright light green.
- Shape: it is a large, erect stem covered with spiny leaves on the lower side and smooth on the upper side.
- Size: it can reach up to 2m in height.
- Weight: weight can range from 500 to 1000 kg.
- Flavor: it has a mild flavor with a certain sweet touch.
Way of preparation and use
- Raw: we can consume the fresh and very tender leaves of the thistle raw in salad.
- Cooked: cooked thistles are a typical dish on Christmas menus in Mediterranean countries. They can be cooked in many different ways: boiled, roasted, battered with bechamel sauce and almonds …
When do we find it and under what conditions?
Currently the most common way to find thistle on a commercial level is packed, clean and cut, ready for any culinary preparation. In this way we can find the thistle at any time of the year. Although if we prefer to buy it fresh, the best time will be from November to April.
The best specimen and its conservation
The best specimen of thistle will be that of a bright light green color, fresh, whole, without any physical damage.
Once the raw thistle has been purchased, and as long as it is fresh, it can be kept in the refrigerator for approximately two weeks. If we buy thistle already packaged, it can be kept up to months. Spain is one of the countries with the highest production of thistle, especially focused on Andalusia.
Thistle is a vegetable with a very low energy value, which represents approximately 20 kcal / 100g. It has very important nutritional characteristics, since it contains significant amounts of vitamins and minerals and certain carbohydrates of nutritional importance. Its water content is around 94% of the total weight. Fat accounts for 0.1% and proteins barely reach 0.7%. Carbohydrates can be present in 3% of the total composition of thistle, among which we highlight inulin.
Minerals: of its mineral content, we will highlight potassium as it is the one found in the highest proportion, closely followed by magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. To a lesser extent, although not less important, we will find appreciable amounts of sodium and zinc.
Vitamins: regarding the contribution of vitamins, we will find significant amounts of all, except for vitamin B12 and vitamin E. We highlight folates, which are the ones found in the highest proportion, followed by vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B2 and B6. We will also find vitamin A and B1 to a lesser extent.
How can you help us?
The thistle is not a food that has a long tradition of food or medicinal plant, although it has been used in many different ways in our diet. That is why we are going to discover some of the healthy properties attributed to thistle, such as:
- Liver protector: due to its composition, thistle is used in the treatment of chronic and degenerative liver diseases, such as hepatitis and cirrhosis.
- Gallbladder protector: thistle stimulates the production of bile juices, facilitating the digestion of food and favoring the greater excretion of dietary cholesterol. It also drains the gallbladder avoiding the production of gallstones.
- Diabetes: thistle is one of the few vegetables that contains a carbohydrate called inulin. This carbohydrate is made up of fructose molecules, a substance that is relatively well tolerated by diabetics.
What if we go over?
At the moment there are no known toxic effects derived from an excessive consumption of thistle. Even so, we must not forget that everything must be used to a certain extent, and that a balanced diet is not only one that provides each and every one of the nutrients, but also must be varied in terms of the foods that are part of it.
Resumen del Contenido
- 1 What kind of vegetable is thistle?
- 2 Thistle: where it comes from
- 3 Denomination
- 4 What are the general characteristics of thistle?
- 5 Health benefits
- 6 How does it look like?
- 7 Nutritional characteristics