Asparagus is a nutritious green vegetable which has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal and nutritional properties. Asparagus was used by ancient Indian and Greek civilizations for its diuretic properties and and ability to help digestion. This delicious vegetable is high in antioxidants and full of necessary vitamins. They are a beautiful addition to any meal, coming in green, purple and white color.
1. Health Benefits of Asparagus
1. Asparagus promotes healthy digestion!
What about asparagus promotes healthy digestion?
One serving of asparagus contains 2.9 grams of fiber, which is 12% of your daily value!
Why does inulin promote healthy digestion?
Inulin is a dietary fiber from the class of fructans. It is used by plants to store energy. Inulins are considered by many nutritionists as a “prebiotic” because of how it can keep your digestive system healthy by encouraging the growth of healthy bacteria. Inulins have been linked to better nutrient absorption, alleviating allergies, and lowering your risk of colon cancer.
In dietary studies in rats, inulin has proven to be able to increase nutrient absorption! Inulin is especially capable of promoting the absorption of calcium and magnesium. This occurs because when inulin reaches the intestines during absorption, it promotes the growth of healthy bacteria during its fermentation. As inulin is fermented by short chain fatty acids, the fermentation lowers the pH level of the stomach content. By lowering the pH level of the stomach content, mineral solubility is increased.
The World Allergy Organization links intestinal microbiota to allergic disorders. It is thought that prebiotics, such as inulin, have potential to alleviate allergic disorders due to their ability to resist gastric acidity and lowering the pH content of the digestive organs and their promotion of healthy bacteria during their fermentation process.
While more studies are needed to confirm that inulin assists in lowering your risk of colon cancer, various studies have been published that believe a dietary intake of inulin help prevent colon cancer development. In a Korean study of rats with induced colon cancer development, the dietary intake of inulin helped prevent the formation of cancerous lesions and inflammation which promotes colon cancer. Prebiotics are being looked at as a potential cancer fighting agent, with inulin and other fructans at the top of the list.
Why does fiber promote healthy digestion?
Dietary fiber, also known as roughage, is parts of plant based foods which your body is not able to digest. It is a dietary material consisting of cellulose, lignin, and pectin which are resistant to digestive enzymes. Fiber is essential for healthy digestion because it moves through your body like a scrub brush, removing excess waste and material. Diets high in fiber lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a variety of other illnesses!
EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Asparagus is full of fiber, including inulin, which help promote healthy digestion by cleansing your intestinal tract like a scrub brush!
2. Disadvantages of Asparagus
1. Asparagus can give you odorous urine
What causes the odor?
The odor is caused by a sulfur containing amino acid called asparagusic acid that is a derivative of methionine. It is produced by the body during the breakdown of asparagus. These compounds are volatile, and released as vapor through your urine.
Why can some people not smell it?
Genetic factors play a role in if you can smell it or not.
Unlike the “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody's around to hear it, does it make a sound?” riddle, yes, everyone's urine does smell like asparagus after digestion.
However, thanks to our genetic code, some people can’t smell it. It is estimated that up to 50% of the population can smell it though - and if you can’t, don’t sweat, there are definitely better things to smell.
Is there a way to avoid this effect?
We regret to say, no, at least not that we know of.
If you are one of those sensitive to the smell of asparagus, a way to cut down on the smell is by cutting off the tips of the asparagus. This is where the bulk of the sulfuric compounds are found.
EAT SMARTER TAKE AWAY: Asparagus contains asparagusic acid, which contains sulfur compounds, meaning that your urine might have a slightly... odd smell.
3. Top100 Asparagus Recipes
4. Asparagus Recipes in Video
Asparagus is incredibly nutritious and is great eaten alone or as an addition to meals as a side dish. Asparagus comes in a variety of vibrant colors and can give a meal a pop of color. It is best eaten fresh but can be preserved for months frozen or canned. Try some of these asparagus recipes to add some health benefits into your life!
5. About Asparagus
What is asparagus? Asparagus is a perennial plant that grows in tall stems. Its modified stems cluster in a rose like shape. It is monecious, meaning that each plant is either a male or a female. The male plants typically produce more stalks because they don’t have to spend their energy producing seeds.
Asparagus thrives where the ground freezes in the winter and the area experiences dry seasons. It does not like wet or damp areas.
What kinds of asparagus can you buy?
There are three types of asparagus.
What is “organic” asparagus?
Organic asparagus includes any asparagus grown not using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, ionizing radiation, and are not genetically modified. In the United States a way to determine if asparagus is organic is if it has a green USDA organic sticker or labeling.
6. Asparagus VS Broccoli
Both asparagus and broccoli are healthy for you in their own right, but which is the better green side dish? Both are very low in calories, and full of vitamins and minerals. We think it comes down to a tie. While broccoli is higher in vitamins, asparagus is higher in minerals. However, broccoli is typically cheaper than asparagus. We vote that you try to incorporate both of these vegetables into your diet, for a powerhouse of green nutrition.
7. History of Asparagus
An ancient green that has graced emperor’s tables
A delicious green full of health benefits.
Origins of the Asparagus
Asparagus was once thought to be a member of the lily family, along with onions and garlic. It is now recognized as its own family, Asparagaceae. The name of asparagus comes from the Greek word “asparagos”, meaning “sprout”, “shoot” or “sparrow”. It has been called the “Food of Kings” because of its popularity with royalty.
Asparagus is believed to have originated in India or the Himalayas, but it is unsure where it truly comes from. It was cultivated 2,500 years ago in ancient Greece, and it has also been used for over 2,000 years in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. Asparagus is native to Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia.
Asparagus has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes because of its diuretic properties. It was also used as an aphrodisiac by the ancient Greeks.
8. Q&A About Asparagus
How do you pronounce asparagus?
What is asparagus related to?
Asparagus was thought to be related to the lily family, including onions and garlic. It is now known to be it its own family asparagaceae.
How much asparagus is produced in the world?
Over 7,000,000 metric tons of asparagus is produced each year in China alone! That’s about the equivalent of the weight of 8 Golden Gate Bridges!
How long does it take asparagus to grow?
It can take a few years for an asparagus plant to start producing stalks. However, once it does, a plant can produce for over 20 years! Asparagus is best eaten during its second or third growth year. It can take 6-8 weeks for shoots to show on a plant, but they can be harvested multiple times during a season.
9. Nutritional Information
This is the nutritional information for 1 cup (180 g) of green asparagus!
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