Asparagus benefits are so impressive! Yeah, eating asparagus does make the pee smell. However, once you are past that, there are numerous reasons to fill the plate with more of this amazing super food. This spring veggie is packed with good-for-your minerals and vitamins like fiber, protein, calcium, copper, iron, and folate, as well as Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K 1 . Thanks to all these nutrients, the bright-green veggie offers some great health welfares.
The fleshy green spears are both tender and succulent and have been considered a delicacy for centuries. This highly prized veggie arrives with the coming of spring. In California, the first asparagus crops are harvested as early as February, though, their season usually is considered to run from April through May. The season of growing in the East and Midwest extends through July. Asparagus is a great part of the Italian cuisine and every well-balanced diet.
Asparagus was well-known as an aphrodisiac in ancient times. Regardless of its abilities to put you in the mood, this savory veggie contains a stimulating blend of nutrients, making it an ideal food for your health. Here are some of the possible asparagus benefits:
Asparagus is high in both water and fiber content, which helps to lower the risk of colon cancer, keep a healthy digestive tract and prevent constipation.
Adequate fiber supports regularity, which is vital for the daily excretion of toxins through the stool. Studies have found that dietary fiber might also play a role in regulating inflammation and the immune system, subsequently reducing the risk of inflammation correlated conditions such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
High fiber intake is linked to a considerably lower risk of developing diabetes, coronary heart disease, obesity, hypertension, stroke, and some gastrointestinal diseases, according to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky. 2
Increased fiber intake has also been found to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, enhance weight loss for obese people, and improve insulin sensitivity.
- Decreased Risk of Depression
Folate can also help protect against depression by avoiding an excess of homocysteine from establishing in the body; furthermore, homocysteine could block blood and some other nutrients from reaching the brain. 3
Plus, excess homocysteine also inhibits the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine that regulate not a just mood but appetite and sleep, too.
- Reduced Risk of Birth Defects
Pregnant women are suggested to take folic acid supplements as it helps protect the growing child against neural tube defects and miscarriage. Research has also found that a folate status of the father before conception might also be significant. 4
- Osteoporosis Prevention
Reduced Vitamin K intake is associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. Only 1 cup of asparagus delivers 70% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin K.
Taking an adequate amount of vitamin K plays a vital role in bone health by decreasing urinary excretion of calcium and improving calcium absorption. The iron in asparagus helps maintain the elasticity and strength of joints and bones, too. 5
- Cancer Prevention
Poor levels of folate intake have been found to increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Suitable intake of dietary folate (in foods) has also shown a significant promise in protecting against cervical, pancreatic, stomach, and colon cancers.
Even though the mechanism of protection is still unknown, experts believe that folate’s protective effect has something to do with its role in the prevention of unwanted mutations and RNA and DNA production 6 . There is no evidence that folate supplementation delivers the same anti-cancer benefits.
- Maintaining a Healthy Heart
Levels of excess homocysteine are an indicator for coronary artery disease. Persons with above-normal homocysteine levels are 2.5 times more likely to experience a stroke, and 1.7 times more likely to suffer a heart disease. 7
Asparagus Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 cup of raw asparagus contains around 8 :
- 27 calories
- 5 grams’ carbohydrate
- 0 grams’ fat
- 3 grams’ fiber
- 3 grams’ protein
- 3 grams’ sugar
The same cup will also deliver the following percentage of daily requirements:
- 70% Vitamin K
- 20% Vitamin A
- 17% folate
- 16% iron
- 13% thiamin
- 13% Vitamin C
Plus, smaller amounts of potassium, Vitamin B6, niacin, and Vitamin E.
How to Pick and Prepare Asparagus
When buying asparagus, you should always look for the stronger spears with tight heads. When prepping the asparagus, you should trim the bottom ends first. Ensure you wash the spears methodically before cooking them.
How to Cook Asparagus
Green is the most common type of asparagus, but you may see 2 others in restaurants and supermarkets:
- white that is more difficult to harvest and more delicate, and
- purple that is smaller and fruitier in flavor.
However, no matter the type you pick, asparagus is a versatile and tasty vegetable that can be enjoyed raw in salads or cooked in many ways.
In order to keep your preparation healthy, preserve antioxidants, and get all the asparagus benefits, keep in mind the following cooking tips: stir-fry, grill, or roast your asparagus.
You can cook it in a pan with olive oil, lemon, and water; it can be cooked in the microwave if you are short on time or roasted in the oven, and it can be grilled over medium heat.
You can also eat it as an appetizer or side dish or add asparagus to a healthy meal. Try it with an over easy egg, add it to a salad, or have it with your meat of choice.
Possible Side Effects of Consuming Asparagus
It’s the eating pattern and overall diet that is most important in achieving good health and disease prevention. It’s better to eat a diet with a variety (like Mediterranean Diet) than to concentrate only on individual foods as the key to great health.
If a person is taking blood thinners like Coumadin (warfarin), they shouldn’t to suddenly start eating a decreased or increased quantity of foods containing vitamin K that plays a crucial role in blood clotting. 9
Asparagus is typically available in green, purple, and white colors. Asparagus benefits the overall health. It is a nutrient-packed source of essential proteins, minerals, and vitamins. The health benefits of asparagus include convulsions, neurodegenerative disease, depression, tuberculosis, rheumatism, cataract, hangover, diabetes, cancer, relief from pre-menstrual syndrome, and fertility. It also reduces blood cholesterol levels and urinary tract infections. Moreover, it improves digestion, is beneficial for pregnant women, maintains cardiovascular health, and helps in lowering levels of homocysteine in the body.