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Edible flowers as functional food: A review on artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L.)

Gostin, Alina-Ioana, Waisundara, Viduranga Y.
Trends in food science & technology 2019 v.86 pp. 381-391
Cynara cardunculus, artichokes, bracts, cheesemaking, cheeses, dose response, edible flowers, flavor, fruits, functional foods, in vitro studies, plant-based foods, rennet, traditional foods
The plant-based food manufacturing sector is currently under expansion through development of novel products such as edible flowers. Although not in the limelight as much as vegetables and fruits, edible flowers are a traditional food source in many parts of the world.The importance of the artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L.) flower as a food product, and its history, origins, processing, preservation methods and regulatory perspectives are reviewed in this paper. The flower has a characteristic bitter-sweet flavour imparted by the heads with fleshy bracts. It is mostly cultivated in countries along or near the Mediterranean basin.Cynara cardunculus L. flower is known to have health protective potential; in vivo and in vitro studies have demonstrated their hepatoprotective, anticarcinogenic and hypocholesterolemic functions. The flower exudate is used as vegetable rennet to obtain cheese. Of particular note, we highlight the need to characterise artichoke's immature and mature flower compounds and their dose-dependent effect on (i) the cheese-making process, and (ii) pathological processes. Knowledge of the technological and biological properties of these compounds will enable the exploration of their potential for new product design.