Asparagus, scientifically known as Asparagus officinalis, is a flowering plant that belongs to the lily family. The vegetable’s vibrant, slightly earthy flavour is merely one of the many reasons it is so popular. It is also highly regarded for its nutritional benefits and has potential cancer-fighting and diuretic qualities. Asparagus is also low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which you need for good health.
Asparagus is a popular vegetable available in several colours, including green, white, and purple. Though green asparagus is very common, you may have seen or eaten purple or white asparagus as well.
The purple asparagus has a slightly sweeter flavour than green asparagus, while white has a milder, more delicate flavour. White asparagus is widely available in Europe because it is popularly cultivated in the Alsace, Camargue and the Landes regions in France.
The white asparagus is grown fully immersed in soil, in the absence of sunlight and hence possesses the white colour.. People worldwide use asparagus in various dishes, including frittatas, pasta and stir-fries.
Nutritional Value of Asparagus
According to the MyPlate standards from the United States Department of Agriculture, asparagus is one of the most nutritionally balanced vegetables. It’s fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free, and full of vitamins and minerals.
100 grams of cooked asparagus contains:
Calories: 20 kcals
Protein: 2.2 g
Fat: 0.1 g
Fibre: 2.1 g
Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
Vitamin C: 6.9 mg
Vitamin E: 1.3 mg
Folate: 134 mcg
Potassium: 202 mg
Phosphorous: 48.6 mg
Magnesium: 12.6 mg
Health Benefits of Asparagus
1. Promotes Weight Loss
As per research, low-calorie foods are effective in weight loss. Asparagus is a low-calorie vegetable that includes both soluble and insoluble fibre. That makes it a smart choice if you’re attempting to lose weight.
Our bodies digest fibre slowly. As a result, fibre-rich foods keep us feeling full between meals and also reduce the urge to binge eat.
To optimise the calorie-burning potential of the vegetable, serve it alongside a hard-boiled egg. The combination of fibre-rich asparagus and the protein found in the egg will keep you feeling satiated for a more extended period. That will result in less caloric ingestion. Thus, it will aid in weight reduction.
2. Regulates Blood Pressure
A study reveals that more than 1.3 billion people experience high blood pressure effects. It is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Many studies discuss the role of high potassium and low salt intake in preventing the issue. Therefore, a diet that includes modest salt restriction and high potassium intake helps prevent or control hypertension. In addition, it decreases cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
Potassium reduces blood pressure in two ways: by relaxing blood vessel walls and excreting excess salt in the urine. Asparagus is a potent source of potassium. Asparagus is a potent source of potassium which helps to lower down the blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessel walls and excreting excess salt in the urine.
Another study further proves the effect of asparagus on lowering blood pressure. The research was performed on spontaneously hypertensive rats for over 10 weeks. The result reflected that the rats on an asparagus diet had 17% lower pressure than the others, who were fed a normal diet. Researchers believe that asparagus has an active chemical that stimulates blood vessels to widen. However, more human research is needed in this space.
In any case, eating more potassium-rich foods like asparagus can help you maintain a healthy blood pressure level.
3. Supports Healthy Pregnancy
Many studies talk about the role of folic acid consumption in a healthy pregnancy. Experts believe it’s critical for women who wish to become pregnant to consume the appropriate levels of folic acid. It is a synthetic type of folate found in asparagus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 400 micrograms of folic acid per day to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly. These are two common birth abnormalities.
Folic acid has proven benefits in pregnancy. Around 400mcg of folic acid per day is recommended to all women of reproductive age. Half a cup of raw asparagus contains 35 mcg of folate. Women who are trying to get pregnant should include asparagus in their diet.
4. Fights Cancer
High quantities of free radicals in the body can cause cell damage, eventually resulting in cancer. Asparagus has a variety of antioxidants that may aid the body in eliminating these harmful toxins.
Asparagus is a rich source of folic acid. As per some studies, low folate status may increase the risk of many cancers by blocking cell division among the cancer cells and also help in the regeneration of the lost ones.
Asparagus is also a rich source of dietary fibres, which is another attribute that helps reduce the risk of cancer. According to the findings of a population-based screening trial, dietary fibre is beneficial in preventing colorectal cancer. Results of the trial reveal that persons who ate high fibre diets were considerably less likely to get colorectal cancer than others.
5. Improve Digestive Health
100 grams of asparagus has 2.1 g of fibre, which is 7% of your daily fibre requirement. Dietary fibre is necessary for a healthy digestive system. According to research, consuming a diet rich in fibre-rich fruits and vegetables can help lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. In addition, asparagus is abundant in insoluble fibre, which helps maintain regular bowel movement.
Asparagus also has traces of soluble fibre, which dissolves in water and creates a gel-like material in the digestive tract. As a result, it nourishes the beneficial bacteria in the gut, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. High numbers of these bacterias help to strengthen the immune system. In addition, it helps produce essential nutrients like vitamins B12 and K2. These help in generating red blood cells and also maintaining bone and cardiovascular metabolism
6. Good Source of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that aid in protecting your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress may result in ageing, chronic inflammation, and various disorders, including cancer.
Asparagus, like other green vegetables, has a high antioxidant content. Vitamins E, C, and glutathione, as well as flavonoids and polyphenols, are among them. In addition, asparagus has significant levels of flavonoids (quercetin, isorhamnetin, and kaempferol). As per several studies, these compounds have blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer effects.
Furthermore, purple asparagus includes anthocyanins, strong pigments that give the vegetable its brilliant colour. They also enhance antioxidant properties in the body. Higher intake of anthocyanin may lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attacks and other heart diseases.
So, consuming asparagus, along with other fruits and vegetables, may give your body a variety of antioxidants that promote good health.
7. Prevents Liver from Toxins and Help with Hangovers
According to a recent study, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract may help relieve hangovers. In addition, it protects liver cells from the toxins found in alcohol. The study results provide biochemical evidence of how asparagus exerts its biological functions. Moreover, they indicate that asparagus leaves have therapeutic use.
8. Boosts Brain Activity
Asparagus may be beneficial in fighting against cognitive deterioration. It is because asparagus, like other leafy greens, is high in folate. Combining folate with vitamin B12 (found in fish, chicken, pork, and dairy) can help prevent cognitive impairment and dementia.
Research on older adults sheds light on the cognitive significance of low vitamin B12. In addition, it also evaluates the effects of interaction between vitamin B12 and folate status. It reveals that adults with appropriate folate and B12 levels show a better response speed and mental flexibility than others.
Another research by the University of California at Los Angeles School of Medicine indicates that high vitamin levels help adults perform better on cognitive function tests. So, asparagus plays a vital role in cognitive function.
9. Prevents Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition that makes your bone brittle and weak. In this condition, the bones become so weak that even a minor twist or jerk may result in a fracture.
Asparagus includes phosphorus, iron, vitamin K, and a tiny amount of calcium. These nutrients and minerals are beneficial to bone health. A cup of asparagus can approximately meet half of an adult’s daily nutritional requirements.
According to a study conducted in 2018, vitamin K is beneficial to bone health in various ways and may even help prevent osteoporosis in most cases.
Furthermore, minerals like iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and magnesium promote bone health. Asparagus is full of these minerals. For example, one cup of asparagus supplies almost 10% of a person’s daily phosphorus needs. In addition, it fulfils between one-sixth and one-third of their daily iron requirement. As a result, it is highly beneficial for bone health and prevents issues like osteoporosis.
How to select and store asparagus?
When buying green asparagus, look for spears with a deep green hue that extends to practically the whole length of the stalk. The spears should be solid because the broader spears are typically more delicate than thinner spears. Choose spears with tiny tips, never choose pale and woody spears because they will be too chewy.
Store your asparagus as a whole and refrigerate. First, wrap the ends in a damp paper towel to retain moisture and freshness. Then place them in a plastic bag and store them upright in the refrigerator. It’s preferable to consume them quickly (within four days). Leave the spears unwashed until you’re ready to eat or cook them. Otherwise, they may harbour germs while being refrigerated.
Healthy Recipes Using Asparagus
#1 Arugula, Egg, and Asparagus Salad
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Large Eggs (in shells): 4
Kosher salt (crushed): 3/4 teaspoon
Black pepper (ground): 1/2 teaspoon
Extra-virgin olive oil: 1 tablespoon
Medium asparagus (trimmed): 350 grams
Skim Milk Greek yoghurt: 1/4 cup
Fresh lemon juice: 1 tablespoon
Water: 1 tablespoon
Preheat the broiler on high flame.
Then, bring a small pot of water to a boil.
Cook for 8 minutes with eggs. Then, place eggs in freezing water for 2 minutes.
Peel eggs, quarter them, and season with salt and pepper.
Now, mix olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and asparagus on a baking sheet. Char it for 3 minutes and then cut it into 2-inch chunks.
Finally, mix ¼ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon pepper, yoghurt, juice, and one tablespoon water in a medium bowl. Top this mix with asparagus mixture and eggs.
Points to Note:
The asparagus with just a bit of char lends excellent richness to this simple 5-ingredient spring salad.
Prefer medium stalks over pencil-thin ones, which can scorch and dry up too rapidly.
A soft-boiled egg provides protein and richness to the salad. Before eating, let the slightly runny yolks mix with the rest of the salad.
Whole-milk Greek yoghurt has a richer flavour and a softer tang than low-fat yoghurt. As a result, it works well as a binder for the lemony dressing.
Serve with a slice of multigrain bread slathered in goat cheese.
#2 Roasted Asparagus with Almonds
It is a healthy and hearty combination.
Cooking Time: 20 mins
Preheat the oven to 232° celsius.
Place asparagus on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and stir occasionally.
Sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and toasted almonds.
Asparagus: Probable Health Risks
Asparagus has many benefits. However, overconsumption may lead to several health issues. In addition, there are some precautions associated with asparagus consumption.
People who suffer from certain illnesses should avoid consuming excessive amounts of asparagus.
Vitamin K is essential in the process of blood coagulation. Anyone using a blood thinner, such as warfarin (Coumadin), should avoid abruptly increasing or decreasing their vitamin K intake. It could cause complications. It is critical to consult with your doctor before making significant dietary changes.
Asparagus is a nutritious and delicious vegetable to include in any diet. It is low in calories and high in nutrients. Asparagus contains fibre, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a good source of protein. Asparagus consumption may also provide a range of health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, favourable pregnancy outcomes, and lower blood pressure.
Furthermore, it is a low-cost, simple-to-prepare ingredient that can be used in various recipes and tastes terrific. Therefore, you should add asparagus to your diet and enjoy several health benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What are the benefits of eating asparagus?
A. Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables. It is high in folic acid and is a good source of potassium, fibre, thiamin and vitamins A, B6, and C. Therefore, it is highly beneficial for your health.
Q. Does asparagus detox your liver?
A. Yes, it can break down toxins in the liver and work as an excellent hangover remedy. In addition, it reduces alcohol toxicity by increasing liver enzymes and encouraging healthy liver function.
Q. How often should I eat asparagus?
A. You can eat it every day or weekly, depending on your dietary requirements.
Q. Which is better, broccoli or asparagus?
A. Fibre and potassium are abundant in both veggies. However, broccoli has a significant advantage over asparagus in vitamin K and calcium. At the same time, asparagus is lower in calories and has a better nutritional profile. Both veggies are beneficial.
Q. Is it better to eat asparagus raw or cooked?
A. It is a high-nutrient vegetable that can be consumed raw or cooked. However, cooking is the most common way to eat it because of its tough texture.
Q. What happens if you eat a lot of asparagus?
A. Overeating it has no life-threatening consequences. However, it might cause unpleasant side effects such as flatulence and a significant odour in the urine.
Q. Is asparagus good for skin?
A. Yes, asparagus has high water content. So eating it may help keep your skin hydrated. It also helps prevent glycation, a natural process that destroys collagen. In addition, it is rich in antioxidants. As a result, it may help prevent premature ageing.
Q. Is asparagus a keto?
A. Asparagus, like many other green veggies, is an excellent addition to your keto diet.
Q. How many asparagus spears is 100 grams?
A. Approximately seven medium-size asparagus
Q. Is asparagus a carb or protein?
A. It contains both carbohydrates and proteins. However, it is considered a low carb vegetable.