Jerusalem artichoke sunflower
Synonyms: tuberous Jerusalem artichokes, Jewish potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes

Characteristics: Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus L.) belongs to the Asteraceae family. The species is native to the central and eastern US and southern Canada. It has spread secondarily to many other regions of the world, and in the Czech Republic it is spreading even invasively. It is a perennial plant growing to a height of 1.5–3 m with opposite leaves at the base of the stem but alternating upwards. The leaves have a rough, hairy texture. The larger leaves on the lower stem are broad, ovate, sharp and can be up to 30cm long. The leaves higher up the stem are smaller and narrower. The flowers are yellow, fragrant for a short time, when they give off a light, vanilla-chocolate scent. The tubers are elongated, in appearance they resemble a ginger root. It varies in color from light brown to white, red, or purple. Jerusalem artichoke is characterized by good resistance to frost, pests, and plant diseases. It has been cultivated for years as a valuable edible plant with medicinal properties. In folk medicine, the leaves are used to treat fractures and relieve pain. The tubers are rich in inulin, proteins and other bioactive components and are therefore used to produce functional foods. Many bioactive substances have also been isolated from the aerial parts that have antifungal, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. Jerusalem artichoke was used for fodder production. For the last two decades, it has found alternative applications in the production of functional foods and prebiotic substrates, such as inulin, oligofructose, fructose. Finally, Jerusalem artichoke is widely used in pharmacy and medicine, where its ability to reduce glucose, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in plasma is used.

Part used: tubers, leaves

Ingredients: Tubers mainly contain carbohydrates of various structures, e.g. simple sugars such as: glucose, fructose; disaccharides: sucrose; and oligosaccharides: inulin, pseudoinulin, galactooligosaccharides (GOS), fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and polysaccharides: mannans and cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose. One of the most important carbohydrates is the water-soluble inulin. Inulin is the name for a heterogeneous group of fructose polymers (fructans) with a length of 10–12 molecules. Tubers contain 2‒3% protein. Cultivars whose tubers have a red skin usually contain more protein than those with a white skin. They also contain sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, and many vitamins. Among the most important are vitamin C and β-carotene, as well as B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and biotin. The tubers and leaves also contain phenolic compounds, with chlorogenic acid being dominant. Jerusalem artichoke also contains other phytochemical compounds, including coumarins, unsaturated fatty acids, polyamine derivatives and sesquiterpenes.

Dietary supplements: Various forms of fiber are obtained and processed, mainly cellulose and inulin. Jerusalem artichoke tubers are edible and very tasty, whether raw, cooked, or pickled.

Effect: Plant extracts rich in antioxidants can be used as active ingredients in many preparations, mainly due to their antioxidant and regenerative properties. The health benefits of Jerusalem artichoke include improving gut health mainly due to its inulin content. Inulin is a valuable prebiotic that reduces the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the intestines and, conversely, supports beneficial bifidobacteria. It can be used as a sweetener or a source of nutrition, fructose, FOS, ethanol and hydroxymethylfurfural - a source for the synthesis of many drugs, pigments, and other compounds. Inulin has a mild sweet taste and a very low glycemic index, so products containing inulin can be consumed by diabetics and dieters. Inulin is hydrolyzed in the human body to fructose, which can be safely used by diabetics thanks to a different metabolic pathway compared to glucose, which is used only in the presence of insulin. The β-glycosidic bonds make it resistant to hydrolysis by digestive enzymes in the small intestine, since the human body does not have the enzymes to break down such bonds. Inulin therefore moves in unchanged form to the large intestine, where it becomes a substrate for beneficial intestinal flora - bifidobacteria. Almost all inulin is fermented by intestinal bacteria (Bifidobacterium sp. and Lactobacillus sp.). The products of fermentation are short-chain fatty acids (acetic, propionic, butyric), lactic acid and gases (carbon dioxide, hydrogen, methane). Short chain fatty acids suppress the growth of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella. The substances contained in fiber have other positive effects on the human body, as they increase the peristalsis of the intestines, reduce the absorption of cholesterol and some toxic substances in the digestive system, delay the hydrolysis of carbohydrates and thus reduce the level of glucose in the blood.

Recommended daily dose: The prebiotic effect is observed after taking 10 g of inulin per day.

Side Effects: Jerusalem artichokes are generally considered safe to consume. However, for some people, the high inulin content can cause digestive problems (gas, cramps).

Interaction: Missing information.

Pregnancy: Due to lack of information on use
Breastfeeding: Due to lack of information, use is not recommended.


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