Asparagus may help fight cancer, slim you down and potentially benefit your brain. Read more to uncover the benefits of eating asparagus.
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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.

Asparagus Nutrition

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)

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

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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

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

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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

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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.

Asparagus Varieties

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.

Bottom line

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!