Asparagus is one of the most nutritious and easy-to-prepare vegetables available today, but it still hasn’t achieved complete dinner-table domination. This delicious spear-shaped veggie can be off-putting because so many people only associate it with what happens after we eat it.
While it’s true that some people do produce urine that smells sulphuric after eating asparagus, the reality is that not everyone produces it, and many people can’t smell it. Plus, these veggies are so nutritious and tasty that we think they’re worth the trade-off.
So, is asparagus healthy? Let’s dig into details of this springtime vegetable and talk about how you can enjoy it, regardless of whether you’re trying to lose weight or need to follow a certain diet for your health.
When It Comes to Nutrients, Is Asparagus Healthy?
Asparagus is a vegetable that’s low in calories, but rich in vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and other essential nutrients that our bodies need to survive. It’s available year-round, but asparagus is best when you’re eating it seasonally in the springtime.
Asparagus is technically a member of the lily family and is available in three varieties – green (which is most common), white, and purple. All taste similar, but white is more delicate, and purple is fruitier and more flavorful.
All asparagus contains similar nutrients, but in different amounts depending on the varietal and preparation method. Here are some of the vitamins and nutrients you can expect to find in a serving of asparagus.
Asparagus is rich in vitamin C, which our bodies require for a variety of essential processes including synthesizing collagen, protein metabolism, and wound healing. One half-cup serving of asparagus contains approximately 12% of our daily recommended value of vitamin C.
Vitamin C also keeps our immune system working, and has been shown to improve the absorption of plant-based iron. If you’re making a big vegetable salad and want to maximize the benefits from iron found in each ingredient, make sure to add some asparagus.
There’s a lot of vitamin A in a standard serving of asparagus – approximately 18% of our daily recommended intake. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble retinoid that’s essential to our immune function, eye health, and so much more. It also plays a key role in cell growth, keeping organs like our heart, lungs, and kidneys healthy.
Just one serving of asparagus contains more than 55% of the average person’s daily recommended intake of vitamin K. This essential vitamin is actually a group of compounds that together work to ensure the formation of healthy blood clots, which is what stops us from bleeding excessively due to a cut or other injury. If you don’t get enough vitamin K in your diet, you may be at risk for uncontrolled bleeding.
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a critical vitamin that helps fuel the creation of red and white blood cells in bone marrow, as well as the production of both DNA and RNA. It’s so important that most pregnant women are prescribed folate supplements during pregnancy, which they take to help the physical and neural development of their fetus.
Asparagus contains a remarkable 34% of the average person’s daily recommended value of folate, making it a great choice for anyone, especially those in periods of extensive growth like adolescents and pregnant women.
Is Asparagus Healthy for Weight Loss?
Including asparagus in your diet when you’re trying to lose weight is a great choice. This vegetable is low in calories, with one serving offering just 20 calories, along with 2.2 grams of protein and 1.8 grams of fiber. This fiber helps keep you full for longer after a meal, while the protein gives you energy.
Asparagus also has a high water content – about 94% of an asparagus spear is water. Consuming foods that are low in calories but with a high water content has been linked to weight loss. Plus, asparagus is simple to prepare, making it easy to add a few spears as a healthy side dish to any meal.
Is Asparagus Healthy for People With Diabetes?
Asparagus could potentially be beneficial to people with diabetes, as one 2012 study suggests. This veggie is rich in fiber without being high in calories, which helps improve digestive health and keeps post-meal blood sugar levels steady. One serving of asparagus only contains about 7 grams of carbohydrates, making it a vitamin-rich snack or side that will give you energy and nutrients without spiking your blood sugar.
Is Asparagus Healthy for Your Heart?
Asparagus is rich in potassium as well as fiber, and both nutrients have been linked to improvements in heart health. Fiber helps to keep our bodies more regular which in turn helps lower risk factors for heart disease, while potassium helps lower blood pressure. Lowering blood pressure is a key factor in decreasing your risk for heart disease and strokes.
How Can You Incorporate Asparagus Into Your Diet?
There are tons of different ways to incorporate asparagus into your diet. It tastes equally great roasted, steamed, or even grilled. Here are some suggestions for new recipes that will help you discover your next favorite asparagus dish.
Steamed asparagus tastes great, and is a great way to bring out this veggie’s bright, fresh flavor. However, getting a whole steamer basket and pot out for just a few spears can be a pain. Fortunately, if you want to add steamed asparagus as a side to any dish, you can prepare it in the microwave.
Simply lay out your asparagus spears on a plate, then sprinkle them with pepper and salt. Soak three layers of paper towel in water until damp, and lay them over top of the asparagus spears. Microwave for 2-3 minutes or until tender.
Asparagus tastes incredible on pizza. Simply slice a few spears into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, then add it to a classic pizza bianco with mozzarella, parmesan, and olive oil. For added flavor, don’t forget salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Asparagus makes a fantastic addition to any salad, regardless of whether you leave it raw or cook it first. If you leave it raw, make sure to shave it or chop it very fine, so it’s not too fibrous. Some great flavors that pair well with asparagus include salty cheese (feta, ricotta salata, or parmesan), scallions, peas, fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or sesame seeds.
Should You Be Eating Asparagus?
Asparagus is a nutrient-dense vegetable that contains many of the vitamins we need to keep our body healthy and functioning well. It’s also really easy to prepare and tastes great in a variety of dishes including main courses, sides, and salads. It’s a great choice to add to any diet, especially if you’re eating seasonally and can find this fresh in the springtime.
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