The temperatures are on the rise, flowers are in bloom and farmer’s markets are stocked full of this season’s finest. If you look, you will find asparagus most dominantly known in its green variety, but also available in white and purple, stocked on the shelves. This nutrient dense vegetable is only available in the produce aisle of your local supermarket from February to June, with its peak harvest in April, when the price for these gems may come down a bit.
Why all the hype about asparagus?
Well, we rave about the health benefits of avocado, kale, spinach and even Brussels sprouts, but did you know that asparagus packs a punch regarding nutritional value? Here is a short list of how eating asparagus, in season, can aid in your overall health and well-being.
1. Nutrient Rich
Asparagus is high in fiber and contains a high level of folate, calcium, potassium and vitamins A, C, E, & K. It also provides our bodies with chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the body’s ability to use insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
2. Cancer Fighting
Asparagus is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound also found in other vegetables like kale, avocado, and Brussels sprouts. It is known to be used in the body to breakdown carcinogens, harmful compounds like free radicals that can wreak havoc on our organs, damaging our bodies over time.
3. Great Source of Antioxidants
Ranked among one of the top fruits and vegetables, asparagus can neutralize cell damaging free radicals. Antioxidants accomplish this by neutralizing free radicals by donating one of their electrons, putting a “stop” to the continuous electron "stealing" reaction. Antioxidants are stable and losing this electron to the free radical does not do any harm to the body -- it only enhances its ability to fight free radicals. This process has also been found to help slow aging.
4. Brain Boosting
With a similar makeup to dark, leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate to the body, which works well with vitamin B12, commonly found in meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. Folate is essential for proper brain function. In this capacity, folate may help fight the decline of cognitive thinking. According to research, if you are not consuming the daily recommended values for folate, your risk of contracting dementia can be tripled. Tufts University conducted a study of older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12, and the research found that these individuals performed better on tests calculating mental response speed and flexibility than those that did not consume adequate amounts of folate-rich food in their diet.
5. Natural Diuretic
Asparagus has always been known to increase urination, and it may even cause the urine to change its odor. The increase in urination is a product of the increased levels of the amino acid asparagine. It helps release fluids and excess salt in the body, which is a significantly important process for those individuals who suffer from edema, an issue where liquid is accumulated in the body’s tissue – in turn, asparagus can help lower blood pressure and combat heart disease.
What are you waiting for? Stop by your local market, and fill up on this season’s best fruits and vegetables -- and don’t forget to include the asparagus! Your body will be forever thankful for it.
Check out this easy and delicious Cream of Asparagus Soup. Make it ahead or try a double batch for enjoyment throughout the week.
Cream of Asparagus Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium white onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2-3 bulbs roasted garlic
2 ½ cups fresh asparagus stalks, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
¼ tsp Sea Salt
¼ tsp white pepper
½ tsp thyme
½ tsp marjoram
½ tsp oregano
½ lemon, juiced
1 cup Greek yogurt
In a medium soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and roasted garlic. Sauté under tender. Add asparagus and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock and add seasoning, salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, and oregano. Bring to a simmer for 12-15 minutes until the asparagus are still vibrant green, but a fork can be easily inserted. Remove from heat.
Add lemon juice and Greek yogurt. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until desired consistency is achieved. Serve with Greek yogurt or crumbled goat cheese, chives, and seeds.
Forberg, Cheryl. 23 March 2016. 5 Powerful Health Benefits of Asparagus You Probably Didn’t Know. Eating Well. Retrieved from .
Understanding Free Radicals and Antioxidants. Health Check Symptoms. Retrieved from .
Asparagus Benefits - The Amazing Veggie That Fights Cancer, Heart Disease & Dementia. Memory Improvement Tips. Retrieved from.