If you’re exploring your veggie palate, comparing vegetables like artichokes and Brussels sprouts is a great activity for you. They don’t look much alike, but are they similar otherwise? What are the best ways to eat them? Where do they grow well?
Artichokes and Brussels sprouts are two highly flavorful vegetables that many folks appreciate including in their diets, but they have very different preparation methods and uses. Let’s take a look at their similarities and differences so you can choose the best ways to incorporate them into your garden and dining lifestyle.
Artichoke vs. Brussels Sprouts: What’s the Difference?
|Classification||Cynara cardunculus, variety scolymus; two primary varieties – globe and elongated||Brassica oleracea, variety gemmifera; two main types – tall and short|
|Description||Artichokes grow on stalks with silvery leaves that produce the edible blooms. The plant grows between 4.5 and 6.5 feet in height. The flavor of artichoke is described as a nutty tone, rustic tone.||Brussels sprouts plants grow up to 3 feet talk, with stalks containing 15-20 sprouts. The vegetable itself has a nutty, sweet, almost smokey flavor, similar to cabbage, only milder.|
|Benefits||Artichokes are nutrient-rich with many vitamins and minerals the body needs for healthy growth. Many also believe the vegetable to help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, and help regulate both blood pressure and blood sugar levels.||Brussels sprouts are believed to provide many health benefits thanks to the Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, and other nutrients they contain.|
|Origin and growing preferences||Artichokes originated in the Mediterranean and North Africa. They prefer full sun to partial shade, in loamy, nutrient-rich compost-based soil.||Originating in Rome, Brussels sprouts became popular in Belgium in the late 16th Century, earning their name. The plant does best in full sun to partial shade, with nutrient-rich soil that is kept moist.|
|Special features and fun facts||Artichokes are named for Cynara, a character from Greek mythology, cursed by Zeus and returned to earth.||Brussels sprouts that come on their stalks will stay fresh much longer than the trimmed veggie.|
Key Differences Between Artichoke and Brussels Sprouts
There are many differences between the two veggies, including their classifications and family, benefits, and flavors, as well as their growing preferences, origins, and much more. Find plenty of details below.
Artichoke vs. Brussels Sprouts: Classification
Both Brussels sprouts and artichokes are healthy vegetables that provide many health benefits through their nutritional profiles. However, they are very different plants from entirely different plant families.
The artichoke is the immature flower bud of a thistle plant, which is technically part of the sunflower or aster family. There are two primary types of artichokes; the elongated or tapered artichokes and the globe artichokes with are rounder and plumper looking.
Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, are a part of the oleracea family, which is the same family from which cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli come from – the cruciferous vegetable family. The veggie also comes in two basic types, the tall and the short. The tall variety groups between 2 and 4 feet tall, which the short variety only hits 2 feet at the most. The plants may be either hybrid or heirloom.
Artichoke vs. Brussels Sprout: Description
The artichoke and Brussels sprouts plants also look extremely different and are easy to tell apart from each other. The artichoke grows to be between 4 and a half feet to 6 and a half feet tall, while the Brussels sprout typically grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall and no higher.
Artichokes have arching, silvery leaves and the flowers which are the edible buds that we eat from the plant. The individual florets from the plant are purple with the lower portions of the buds being green (the edible parts). This is the “heart” of the plant, which we eat, and consists of the fleshy portions.
Brussels sprouts have stalks that produce tiny leafy vegetables that look a bit like miniature cabbages, with each stalk producing between 15 and 20 sprouts at a time.
Both vegetables are known for having a nutty flavor, but artichokes from thorn-less varieties aren’t as strong in this flavor. Brussels sprouts also have a sort of sweet, smokey flavor as well, like a milder cabbage flavor.
Artichoke vs. Brussels Sprouts: Benefits
Artichokes, like most vegetables, offer many benefits for our health, thanks to the large number of dietary nutrients they contain. The thistle-bloom is believed to lower blood sugar levels, improve digestion, heart health, and liver health. Some of the nutrients the plant contains include: Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Zinc, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus, protein, and fiber. Some studies have been conducted on the plant as part of a balanced diet and it is believed that consuming artichoke helps to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and help regulate blood pressure. The nutrients contained in the food is what is believed to create these benefits.
Brussels sprouts also have some health benefits believed to improve life for those who consume them on a regular basis. They’re packed with many of the same nutrients, including Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, carotenoids, protein, and fiber. Some folks have made claims that the plant offers cancer-fighting benefits, but there are no studies that show this to be distinctively true.
All claims of health benefits are simply that. Please confer with a medical provider on dietary changes and possible medication interactions.
Artichoke vs. Brussels Sprout: Origins and Growing Preferences
Artichokes are native to the Mediterranean region and North Africa, coming from the North African thistle plant family. It is believed that artichokes were first harvested by people living in the Middle East and domesticated throughout the region. The plant comes from the same family as the wild cardoon, which has earlier roots demonstrated in agricultural history than the artichoke, however. European growers in France, Italy, the Netherlands, and other areas carried the artichoke elsewhere, and ultimately the Dutch introduced artichokes to England where it grew in the royal gardens in 1530.
Artichokes may be either annual or perennial in your region, depending on climate, and may keep growing for up to 5 years, producing the blooms we harvest for eating. They should be planted 4 feet apart in full to partial shade, in nutrient-rich, loamy, organic soil. Keep the soil moist throughout growing season, watering the soil whenever it gets dry.
Brussels sprouts are thought to have originated in Rome, though they became popular in the late 16th Century in Brussels, Belgium, which is where they get their name from. The plants were brought to America by French settlers, specifically to Louisiana, in the 1800s and introduced into commercial farming there in 1925. In the 1940s, the American central locale for Brussels sprouts moved to California and became a growing part of the frozen food industry.
To grow Brussels sprouts successfully at home, plant them 3 to 4 inches apart, about 6 to 10 weeks before the first expected frost. Place them where they will get full sun and compost-rich soil. Keep the plants and soil moist and start fertilizing them a month after planting. Keep an eye out for cabbage worms in particular, as well, to keep them healthy and growing well.
Artichoke vs. Brussels Sprout: Special Features and Fun Facts
So, these two plants might be “just veggies” but they actually have some pretty fun and interesting facts and history behind them.
The artichoke, for example, is actually an unbloomed flower in the sunflower family. If you look at the artichoke and you look at a sunflower before it unfolds and pops out those yellow petals, you can see the similarities. And according to legend, artichokes are not only one of the oldest known foods in the world, but they were brought to the forefront of knowledge for human dining thanks to the Greek god Zeus, who turned Cynara into the artichoke that she might return to earth. The scientific name for the plant comes from the myth. And more practically speaking, a single artichoke plant can produce up to 20 artichokes per year!
As to Brussels sprouts, we can thank the grocery stores that sell the veggies with their tall stalks. These look amazing, but they also help to keep the veggies fresh post-harvest. All parts of a Brussels sprout plant is edible, including the leaves which are often substituted for cabbage. And yes, the plants really are named for their origin in Brussels Belgium – and therefore removing the “s” from the name actually declines to recognize their origin. Finally, anyone on blood thinners should be wary of Brussels sprouts, as the vegetable can interfere with blood thinners due to their high levels of Vitamin K.