February to June marks the asparagus season, and the arrival of spring brings this hero vegetable on the market for everyone to enjoy. Although pick season runs April through May, which is when supermarkets and farmers’ markets abound in fresh asparagus, the vegetable is available year-round, and in certain parts of the country, the growing season even extends through July.
Why asparagus is a hero vegetable
That asparagus can grow two to three inches overnight and that Caesar Augustus had men procure the vegetable for him are only two of the facts that hint at the particularity of asparagus. Painters devoted works of art in its honor and writers wrote about asparagus from as early as 160 BC.
But the “king of vegetables,” as Louis the Great had asparagus dubbed during his time as king of France, is prized for more than flavor and taste. The remarkable nutritional benefits distinguish asparagus as one of the best and one of the healthiest vegetables in the vegetable realm. Find Asparagus prices and offers in the latest grocery weekly ads.
With a very low glycemic index and a bag-full of nutrients, asparagus is the epitome of 5-a-day. One cup or approximately 180g of cooked asparagus provide:
- 101% DRI of Vitamin K
- 67% DRI of Folate
- 33% DRI of Copper
- 24% DRI of Vitamin B1
- 20% DRI of Selenium
- 19% DRI of Vitamin B2
- 18% DRI of Vitamin C
- 18% DRI of vitamin E
- 14% DRI of Manganese
- 14% DRI of Phosphorus
- 14% DRI of Fiber
- 12% DRI of Potassium
- 12% DRI of Vitamin B3
- 11% DRI of Choline
- 10% DRI of Zinc
- 10% DRI of Vitamin A
- 9% DRI of Iron
- 9% DRI of Protein
- 8% DRI of Pantothenic Acid
- 8% DRI of Vitamin B6
- 6% DRI of Magnesium
- 4% DRI of Calcium
Asparagus for health: benefits and disease prevention
Rich in folate, asparagus is a great vegetable for women, especially for pregnant women. Intake of folate before and during pregnancy is essential for preventing various birth defects in babies, associated with brain and spinal cord.
Also, adequate folate levels prevent anemia in adults and children, the vitamin also helping the body fight cancer development, as studies suggest.
For digestive problems
With an adequate inulin concentration, asparagus provides digestive support, this unique carbohydrate passing undigested to the large intestine and stimulating healthy bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli that have often been associated with better nutrient absorption and lower allergy risk among others.
Another way asparagus helps fight digestive problems in the body is through fiber, the valuable amount of fiber in asparagus stabilizing and improving digestion. Asparagus is often used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat digestive problems.
For heart health
The content of B-vitamin in asparagus is important about maintaining healthy blood sugar. In addition, B-vitamins of asparagus helps the body regulate the amino acid known as homocysteine, which can trigger heart diseases if it reaches excessive levels in the blood.
The soluble fiber in asparagus also helps lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes type 2. The combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients also plays a key role in reducing the risk for these chronic diseases. Anti-inflammatory factors found in asparagus, such as asparanin A and protodioscin have often been related to lower risk of cardiovascular problems.
Asparagus: Interesting facts to know
- Asparagus is believed to have been first cultivated in Greece about 2,500 years ago.
- Israelis only began incorporating asparagus into their diets recently.
- There is no fat in asparagus.
- California accounts for about 70% of all asparagus production in the country.
- Asparagus is self-nurturing: it takes energy from the sun during the summer season and nutrients and water from the ground to create the bank for next year’s crop.
- In ancient Rome, runners were employed to carry asparagus high in the Alps to have it frozen for longer use.