What are the health benefits of eating Jerusalem artichoke?

Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Jerusalem artichokes, like globe artichokes, are a rich source of inulin. Inulin is a polysaccharide, or starch, that is handled by the body differently from other sugars. In fact, inulin is not utilized by the body for energy metabolism. This makes Jerusalem artichokes extremely beneficial to diabetics. In fact, Jerusalem artichoke polysaccharides have actually been shown to improve blood sugar control. Since the body does not utilize the primary carbohydrate of Jerusalem artichoke, the calorie content is virtually nil, only 7 calories per 100 grams (roughly 31/2 ounces).

Jerusalem artichokes may also have some immune-enhancing activity, as inulin also has the ability to enhance a component of our immune system known as complement. Complement is responsible for increasing host defense mechanisms, such as neutralization of viruses, destruction of bacteria, and increased movement of white blood cells (neutrophils, monocytes, eosinophils, and lymphocytes) to areas of infection. Many medicinal plants, such as echinacea and burdock, owe much of their immune-enhancing effects to inulin. Jerusalem artichoke is one of the richest sources of inulin available.
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

More About this Book

Encyclopedia of Healing Foods

From the bestselling authors of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, the most comprehensive and practical guide available to the nutritional benefits and medicinal properties of virtually everything...

Continue Learning about Dietary Supplements

Dietary Supplements

Whether you're visiting the drug store, grocery or natural food shop you'll likely find an aisle where there are jars and bottles of things for you to put in your body that are neither foods nor medicines. Ranging from vitamins an...

d minerals to fiber and herbal remedies, these supplements are not regulated in the same way as either food or medicine. Some of them are backed by solid research, others are folk remedies or proprietary cures. If your diet does not include enough of certain vitamins or minerals, a supplement may be a good idea. Natural treatment for conditions like constipation may be effective. But because these substances are unregulated, it is always a good idea to educate yourself about the products and to use common sense when taking them. This is even more true if you are pregnant or taking a medicine that may be affected by supplements.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.