Spring is the most delightful season; most people have stated it to be their favorite season of the year. Springtime brings freshness and warmth to the atmosphere. The blooming flowers, fresh produce, and breathtaking sceneries are just some perks of this beautiful season.
Springtime has a vast array of delicious and healthy fruits and vegetables. A common vegetable particularly found during the springtime is asparagus. It is said to be one of the first signs of spring and a part of many spring dishes.
Asparagus is bright green in color and a slender-shaped vegetable with a spear-like appearance. It has many earthy flavors, and there is no reason not to love it. Asparagus also has a lot of nutritional benefits.
This article will help you learn all about asparagus, including its history, nutritional facts, health benefits, recipes, and tips on how to select and store it.
All about Asparagus
Asparagus was first found commonly growing in the wild, in Greece by the ancient Romans over 2,500 years ago. Early asparagus was very different from the one we enjoy today; it was bitter with thinner stalks and darker in color.
Asparagus belongs to the Asparagaceae family, which contains more than 200 species of asparagus. Many species of this family are used as ornamental plants by florists in bouquet arrangements and corsages.
The edible species is the one we all are familiar with is called garden asparagus. The botanical name of garden asparagus is Asparagus Officinalis.
American or British asparagus is mostly green, the one found in France is purple, and the one from Spain is white. Purple asparagus has a sweet taste. Whereas, white asparagus has a mild and delicate flavor.Also, this type of asparagus is the most labor-intensive vegetable to grow.
Asparagus is an annual vegetable. It is planted once every year. It can be found growing in the wild, but the taste won’t be as fresh and pleasant. Green and purple asparagus is grown in subtropical climates in fairly basic soils. The most popular asparagus in the world is produced by China, Thailand, Mexico, America, France, and Germany.
Nutritional Facts of Asparagus
Asparagus is a very nutritionally balanced vegetable, which is packed with many key minerals and vitamins. A cup of asparagus has only 27 calories with high levels of potassium, dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It is also low in calories, free of fat, and sodium.
The daily recommended intake to get the maximum benefits of asparagus is half a cup.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
Considering the overwhelmingly positive nutritional facts of asparagus, it is given that asparagus must have many health benefits. It contains a stimulating blend of nutrients.
In ancient times asparagus was used to treat almost all ailments like toothaches and reproductive issues as herbal medicine. Nowadays,it is commonly used to treat cancer, as an aphrodisiac, and as a diuretic.
Although many of these claims are not true in this day and age, asparagus has a variety of different health benefits. Here is why you should consider eating it.
- Vitamin K present in asparagus helps with blood clotting.
- Folate present in asparagus is essential for pregnant women.
- Asparagus is water-based and does not lead to weight gain.
- Asparagus is rich in dietary fiber, which reduces the risk of heart diseases.
- Asparagus has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties.
- Asparagus helps improve insulin secretion and maintains oxidative stress, which is great for people with diabetes.
- Asparagus contains many antioxidants that promote healthy skin by reducing aging and protecting against sun damage.
- Asparagus is a natural diuretic, which helps flush out toxins and prevents kidney stones.
- Asparagus helps stabilize digestion.
- Asparagus contains phytonutrients like saponins that promote immune health and decrease the risk of cancer.
There are no harmful effects of asparagus, but some unwanted effects of consuming too much of it are gas and pungent urine. Asparagus contains chemicals that can make urine smell terrible. However, there are no side effects of this odor. Some people can also be hypersensitive to asparagus.
It is also said that vitamin B-6 present in asparagus can affect blood sugar levels. So, it is advised for patients with low blood sugar levels to consume asparagus in moderation.
Selection and Storage
When choosing asparagus, look for spears that are bright green, thick and firm; those are the most flavorful. Avoid buying limp or wilted asparagus. Don’t go for the one that has a pale base; they are hard to cut.
Always store asparagus in the refrigerator, try wrapping the ends in a damp cloth or paper towel, and place inside a plastic bag to maintain freshness and moisture. Wash it only when you’re about to cook and consume it within four days.
Asparagus is a succulent and savory vegetable, with delectable flavors. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Cooking asparagus for longer periods might affect its health benefits and loses nutrient count. Therefore, it is recommended to cook the spear and stalk of asparagus separately at different times to get maximum benefits.
Here are some ways to serve asparagus:
- To prep, trim off the white, hard ends, and separate it into two parts. It can be served raw in salads, or you can steam or blanch it.
- If you want to grill, roast, or sauté asparagus, coat with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper beforehand.
- It can also be served sautéed in butter and garlic. This works as a great side to meat dishes
- After blanching asparagus, coat it with lemon juice and parmesan cheese for a healthy snack.
- Asparagus can also be used in pesto sauce with basil, dill, and thyme.
- It can be served in a fruit salad, as it complements the flavor very well.
Asparagus is a very nutrient-dense and low-calorie vegetable. It is the prime food for consumption in a healthy diet because it packs a healthy punch. It is the best food to boost immunity and carries other vital health benefits. We hope you enjoy this spring treat to the fullest and gain all its health benefits.