5 Powerful Health Benefits of Asparagus You Probably Didn't Know
Asparagus is a vegetable available year-round with peak availability in spring. When you buy asparagus fresh from the farmers' market or grocery store, it's best to eat it right away. Asparagus pairs well with lots of other spring vegetables and flavors—think peas, garlic or new potatoes.
If you need more reasons to enjoy this yummy and nutritious vegetable, read on to find out how asparagus is good for you.
Here are the nutrition facts of one cup (135 g) of uncooked asparagus:
- Calories: 27 kcal
- Protein: 3 g
- Total fat: 0.16 g
- Fiber: 3 g (12% Daily Value)
- Potassium: 273 mg (8% Daily Value)
- Vitamin C: 7.6 mg (13% Daily Value)
- Vitamin K: 56.2 mcg (70% Daily Value)
- Folate: 70.2mcg (18% Daily Value)
Recipes to Try: Healthy and Delicious Recipe for Fresh Asparagus
Asparagus Nutritional and Health Benefits
These vegetable spears are packed with nutrients, providing a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folate. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting and healthy bones. Notably, asparagus also contains chromium, a trace mineral that may enhance the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells—That's good news if you're watching your blood sugar levels.
Moreover, asparagus has other potential benefits, including:
1. May help lower blood pressure
Pictured recipe: Coriander-&-Lemon-Crusted Salmon with Asparagus Salad & Poached Egg
Asparagus contains potassium, an important nutrient for keeping your heart, bones, kidneys and nerves functioning and healthy. You may be surprised to learn that this stalky vegetable also consists of a compound called asparaptine, which may help improve blood flow, in turn lowering blood pressure.
2. May help fight cancer
Pictured recipe: Ricotta Gnocchi with Spring Vegetables
This herbaceous plant, along with avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts, is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.
3. Packed with antioxidants
Pictured recipe: Asparagus Salad with Eggs & Jambon de Bayonne
Asparagus is one of the top-ranked vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Along with other potential anti-aging foods, asparagus may help slow the aging process and reduce inflammation.
4. May be a brain booster
Another anti-aging property of this delicious spring veggie is that it may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12—found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy—to reduce the risk of cognitive impairment. If you're 50-plus, be sure you're getting enough B12, as your ability to absorb it decreases with age. Learn about anti-aging foods with our best foods to help keep your brain young.
5. A natural diuretic
Pictured recipe: Grilled Asparagus
Asparagus contains high levels of amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, increasing urination and helping the body to get rid of excess salts. This is especially beneficial for people suffering from edema (an accumulation of fluids in the body's tissues) and those with high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.
Potential Side Effects
Have you wondered why eating asparagus causes a strong urinary odor?
These vernal shoots contain a unique compound, asparagusic acid, that, when metabolized, gives off a distinctive smell in the urine. Young asparagus contains higher compound concentrations, so the odor is stronger after eating them. Rest assured that there are no harmful effects from the sulfuric compounds or the odor! While it is believed that most people produce these odorous compounds after eating asparagus, few people can detect the smell.
The most common type of asparagus is green, but you might see two others in supermarkets and restaurants: white, which is more delicate and difficult to harvest, and purple, which is smaller and fruitier in flavor. No matter the type you choose, asparagus is a tasty, versatile vegetable that can be cooked in myriad ways or enjoyed raw in salads.
How to Cook Asparagus
To preserve the antioxidants, try roasting, grilling or sautéing your asparagus. These quick-cooking, waterless methods will preserve the fabulous nutritional content and antioxidant power of asparagus. Learn how to choose, prepare, cook and store asparagus with our practical tips.
Asparagus is a highly nutritious vegetable with numerous health benefits. Whether you love eating the common green spears or the vibrant purple or white asparagus, they add flavor, texture and color to your meals. Get inspired with our Healthy Asparagus Recipes and Simple Asparagus Side Dishes today!