*The vegetable asparagus is obtained from the flowering plant Asparagus officinalis, a member of Liliaceae (Lily family).
*The parts of the plant that are eaten as vegetable are the tender, succulent, fleshy, young shoots or spears of the plant that are produced from an underground crown.
*They have a succulent taste and tender and crisp texture.
*Three different types of asparagus are available – Green, white and purple.
(a) Green asparagus are the green spears of asparagus that emerge directly from the soil into the sunlight.
(b) White asparagus, a delicacy in Europe, are the spears of asparagus that are grown away from sunlight, either by growing them in the dark or covering with extra piles of soil to prevent them from developing the green pigment, chlorophyll. They have a more delicate flavor and tender texture, and are often canned or found in gourmet shops. They are more expensive than the other varieties due to the high cost of producing.
(c) Purple asparagus are the spears of asparagus that have a deep purple color due to the presence of the pigment anthocyanin. They have a fruity flavor and a mildly sweet taste due to more sugar content than other varieties.
*It contains naturally-occuring substances called purines, so people who are prone to diseases like gout should consume limited quantities of asparagus..
*Buying and storage: Select the asparagus spears that are rounded (neither swollen nor twisted), firm, crisp and compact brightly colored closed tips with no trace of softness. Use asparagus within a day or two after purchasing. Store in the refrigerator away from light since folic acid is destroyed by air, heat or light.
Is it raw?
Yes and No.
*Yes, when used raw on salads or in salsa.
*No, when steamed, grilled, boiled or stir-fried. Overcooking destroys the nutrients.
1. Asparagus is very low in calories, has very low proteins, and no fats or cholesterol.
2. A very good source of folic acid, a B-group vitamin, which is very essential for proper cell division because of its role in DNA synthesis. When consumed regularly by pregnant women, it prevents birth defects like spina bifida in the fetuses.
3. Folic acid is also essential for a healthy heart. It prevents the accumulation of homocysteine, an intermediary metabolite of protein metabolism, which promotes atherosclerosis by reducing the integrity of blood vessel walls and by interfering with the formation of collagen.
4. Significant source of numerous B vitamins – including vitamin thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, and B6, which enhance the production of energy from the foods.
5. Excellent source of Vitamin A and beta-carotenes. They enhance the eye sight, fight against acne, and result in smooth radiant skin.
6. Excellent source of Vitamin C. It enhances the body's immune system, increases the elasticity of skin and blood vessels, and prevents bruising of the skin.
7. Good source of Vitamin E and selenium, which are natural antioxidants that scavenge the free radicals that oxidize fats, preserves the integrity of cell membranes, and protects our body.
8. Good source of Vitamin K, which prevents internal and external bleeding.
9. Good source of minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and manganese which play a very important role in maintaining proper metabolic activities of the body.
10. It is very low in sodium and high in potassium, this combined with the amino acid, asparagine, make asparagus a very good diuretic. Asparagus is used in the treatment of PMS-related water retention and hypertension.
11. Good source of dietary fiber. It adds roughage to the contents of the intestines, promotes satiety, and also helps in controlling constipation, hemorrhoids, diverticular disorders, etc.
12. Good source of inulin that promotes the growth of the beneficial intestinal flora in the colon, which fight against harmful bacteria and promote a healthy colon. Inulin is a polysaccharide that cannot be digested in the human intestinal tract but can be digested by the intestinal flora.
13. Very good source of rutin, a flavonoid and antioxidant that strengthens the capillary walls.
14. It is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties.
15. Used to treat urinary tract infections, and stones in the kidneys and urinary bladder.
16. It is a natural diuretic and laxative, thus has beneficial effect s on bowel, kidneys and liver.
17. Asparagus roots have certain compounds called steroidal glycosides that are used in the treatment of arthritis to reduce inflammation.
18. Contains glutathione (GSH). Glutathione (GSH) is one of the most potent anti carcinogens and antioxidants found within the body.