The French like their artichokes fried, the Italians like them on pizza, in Spain they are used in frittata and the best artichokes are supposedly found in Greece. Meanwhile, at the University of Reading, a research University in Great Britain, the flower is being used for medicinal purposes connected to reducing cholesterol. High cholesterol levels related to cardiovascular disease have been shown to improve with the help of Artichoke Leaf Extract, or ALE, therefore minimizing the need for prescription drugs. By stabilizing cholesterol before it becomes a problem, researchers at University of Reading found yet another dietary supplement beneficial to healthy cholesterol levels. Twelve weeks, 75 volunteers and four capsules of ALE a day proved to be the antidote for lower levels of cholesterol in blood plasma, which is linked to cardiovascular disease. Dr. Rafe Bundy who was involved in the ALE study, credits the extract as a crucial factor in helping people stay worry-free about their heart health. “Reducing cholesterol levels can reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Our research investigated whether ALE could be beneficial to otherwise healthy people who had raised levels of cholesterol but were not yet at a stage where they needed standard medical intervention,” said Bundy who now works at the University of Glasgow in Britain. The result of the study helped to solidify what has been inferred for years, “ALE may provide another option which people could try over and above a healthy diet in order to help lower plasma cholesterol,” Bundy explained about effects of ALE on volunteers at the University. Similar to other flavonoid and essential nutrient rich foods such as red wine, chocolate, olive oil and tea, artichokes have been under investigation in their link to good health for over ten years. Results similar to those acquired at University of Reading about ALE, strongly suggests that flavonoids, sometimes referred to as “natures biological response modifiers,” help to modify the body’s reaction to allergens, viruses and carcinogens. In addition, artichokes, which are widely used in Europe to aid in digestion and improve urinary tract health, have also been proven to alleviate dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome. Regular consumption of ALE is a quick way to get the benefits of artichokes in order to maintain a flavonoid rich, low cholesterol, cardiovascular disease free lifestyle.