Thistle: properties, nutritional values, calories

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The thistle is a singular vegetable, excellent for liver and to purify the body but which requires a long cleaning and preparation. Let's find out better.

> 1. Description of the thistle

> 2. Properties and benefits 

> 3. Calories and nutritional values ​​of thistle

> 4. Cardo, ally of

> 5. Curiosities about the thistle

> 6. A recipe with thistle


Description of the Thistle

Il thistle or wild artichoke is a variety of vegetable known scientifically with the name of Cynara cardunculus altilis, a plant belonging to the Asteraceae family.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant with an erect appearance, green in color and lighter or whitish stems and a height that can reach two meters, branched in flowering, robust and streaked, it has alternate leaves and in some cases thorns.

I fiori they are purplish-pink and grow on the upper part of the plant. There are several varieties of thistle: the cultivated thistle (C. cardunculus altilis), the wild thistle (C. cardunculus sylvestris), the artichoke (C. cardunculus subsp. Scolymus). In particular, there is a variety of wild thistle spread throughout the center, the south and the islands, called milk thistle (Silybum marianum) or also "blessed thistle" or "Madonna's thistle".

Originally from Mediterranean areas, also cultivated in dry and arid areas, thistle is used both as a food product, in the varieties of thistle and artichoke, and also as phytotherapeutic preparation (wild or milk thistle).

Contrary to other vegetables frost is essential for the thistlein fact, after a frost, the texture of this vegetable becomes better and more tender. The taste recalls the bitter one of the artichoke.


Properties and benefits of Cardo

Used wild in herbal medicine in extracts and herbal teas, the food thistle is known for its purifying virtues, especially as liver tonic thanks to the presence of a substance known as silybin which helps to dispose of the toxins accumulated in the body.

Plus it also has laxative properties, being very rich in fiber. It also contains antioxidants, which help keep the body young, mineral salts and vitamins.

The whole also gives the thistle anti-cholesterol-lowering properties, digestive and fat burners.

The thistle cleans itself cutting the long stem into pieces and eliminating the filamentous part of the ribs, up to the light and tender heart; if after washing it is not immediately prepared, you need to put the thistle stems in acidulated water, otherwise they will blacken.

To prevent the thistle from blackening even with boiling, it is advisable cook it in water with the juice of half a lemon or with a spoonful of flour. Well boiled (cooking is very long, from two to 4 hours are necessary), it is cooked in various ways.

Only the hunchback thistle Nizza Monferrato or other more valuable types are also good eaten raw.


Calories and nutritional values ​​of Thistle

100 grams of thistle provide about 17 kcalories

For every 100 grams of this food we have:

  • Water g 94
  • Fiber g 1,6
  • Sugars 3,9 g
  • 0,7 g protein
  • 0,1 g fat
  • G carbohydrates 4
  • Potassium 400 mg
  • Sodium 170 mg
  • Calcium 70 mg
  • Vitamin B2 0,004


Milk thistle: dosage and how to use it in recipes


Thistle ally of

Thistle, an excellent natural depurative, is an ally of the liver, useful for intestinal health and it is an excellent tonic for the whole organism in general.


Curiosities about the Cardo

In ancient times and still in some areas of Tuscany thistle seeds and sprouts were used to curdle the cheese.

Recently, the thistle is also used in the energy supply chain, as the seeds can be used for the production of biodiesel, while the residual biomass for the production of thermal energy.

Among the many varieties of thistle, in addition to the already mentioned, we remember the thornless thistle of Bologna, the Piedmontese thistle of Chieri, the precious thistle of Tours, the giant thistle of Romagna, the sad thistle, with dark red holes, the thistle winged wetlands. The annual Sagra del cardo is held in Andezeno, in the province of Turin.


A recipe with thistle

Loved in Piedmont, typical is the bagna cauda that is eaten with thistle; here is a veg version.
Ingredients for three persons:

  • 200 grams of walnut kernels,
  • 250 ml of soy cream,
  • 100 ml of extra virgin olive oil,
  • 4 cloves of garlic,
  • 3 spoons of capers,
  • 3 tablespoons of Taggiasca olive pate,
  • cooked vegetables (including thistles) and raw to accompany the sauce.

Method: chop walnuts, garlic and capers and sauté everything in a pan with a tablespoon of oil, then adding the olive pâté. Mix everything, add about 300 ml of water and bring everything to a boil; leave to cook over low heat for about half an hour. Towards the end of cooking, add the soy cream, mixing everything well. Switch off and serve on the table in special bowls, together with the mix of seasonal vegetables.


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