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One of the least understood vegetables, artichokes are a unique option for side dishes or as an ingredient for soups or dips. Although they require a bit more prep time, these thorny veggies offer higher levels of antioxidants than most, according to USDA studies. One large artichoke adds six grams of fiber to your daily diet, has no cholesterol, and no fat. They’re readily available at most grocery stores, or you can grow them in your vegetable garden.

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1. Know your artichokes

This regal vegetable belongs to the thistle family. The artichoke you purchase at the grocery store is the bud of a thistle plant. The bud matures into a blue-violet or pink flower, if the grower doesn’t remove it, and is no longer edible. Rows of thorny petals protect the exterior of a bud. Underneath, the petals get softer toward the vegetable’s center, until you reach the choke, a small inedible section of tightly woven fibers. Just above the stem lies the heart. The fleshy, lighter-colored base of the artichoke’s petals, the center of the interior stem, and the heart are all edible and delicious.

thistle family petals artichoke Pete Starman / Getty Images
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