Healthy Benefits of Asparagus
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Early Memories of a Child
The earliest recollectionI have with asparagus is the soup my mom makes when I was a kid. She can seem to effortlessly whip this refreshing hot dish from a can of white asparagus and chicken broth. I didn't know how that was made, of course. But, boy! Was it delicious!
Green asparagus was not common in the Philippines. At least, at our home. I remember this one instance though, when my dad cooked a thick steak and served it with mashed potatoes and green asparagus at the side. Plus, its long stick-form adds to my delight as I eat them in a cigarette-like fashion. (Remember that I was still a kid back then.) That was an amazing meal!
I suppose I have been enjoying the benefits of asparagus for a long time; and didn't even realize it. I had no idea what nutrients asparagus brings. As long as I have asparagus with my chicken soup, nothing else matters.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
Now I know better. The benefits of asparagus is aplenty as it is delicious.
Asparagus has many kinds; but only few are edible.
These are the green asparagus, white asparagus and the purple asparagus. The white asparagus actually are the green ones that are grown without sunlight. This should explain the absence of the green chlorophyll. Purple asparagus contain high anti-oxidant properties from its purple anthocyanins. Lastly, the green asparagus is the most common of all (at least from where I’m at). It has the most nutrients, too.
Asparagus is rich with inulin, saponins and flavonoids. These are phytonutrients common in vegetables. These are anti-oxidants that help strengthen our defense system.
The prebiotic inulin, in particular supports our digestive health. It helps in the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat up to the point of excretion of waste out of our system.
The benefits of asparagus also include the following vitamins and minerals.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin B-complex - folate, B1, B2, B3, B6
The benefits of asparagus from its Vitamin B contents and fiber help decrease the risks of heart ailments. Vitamin B also helps regulate blood sugar levels which make the vegetable good for diabetics. Its anti-inflammatory elements promote cardiovascular health, as well.
- Vitamin K (anti-inflammatory agent)
- Copper (anti-oxidants)
- Dietary fiber
Benefits of asparagus with Weight Loss
Asparagus, especially the green ones are low in calories. Because of its rich content of anti-oxidant properties, it’s a good detox agent, too. Get the benefits of asparagus, including weight loss, by simply adding them in your diet. Put them in your salads, or snack on them just like what many do with baby carrots.
If you eat plenty of this vegetable, you may detect a distinct odor from your urine. It's a good thing. It's just the asparagines content in asparagus working for you. If this annoys you, mix asparagus with other veggies. It goes well with other vegetables, anyway. There's another smelly feature of asparagus down below. Be sure to watch out for it. :)
A Few More Things About Asparagus: Did you know that...
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is considered a springtime vegetable in the west. In my part of the world however, (I live in Thailand) I see asparagus all-year round. They are mostly green asparagus here with small and large stalks. I seldom see the purple ones.
Organic asparagus are mostly grown in certain provinces of Thailand. Their produce are exported to neighboring countries like Japan. According to an old Bangkok Post article I read from Fresh Plaza,
"Organic asparagus from Thailand is now in high demand on the world market. Several farmers in Sa Kaeo province have capitalised on the trend, turning their land into organic asparagus farms. The environmentally-friendly farming requires much more attention than chemical farming, they said."
At least I know that I'm having safe to eat organic asparagus, if not harvest from a local farmer's garden, at the most.
Asparagus are perennial plants
Yes, they are. If you plant them today, wait for about 1-2 years before you have a taste of your home-grown asparagus. Asparagus do not grow in containers. They are deeply well-rooted plants. So wait for them to really establish their place in the ground before doing any harvests. The shoots are cut off (not pulled) from the soil.
Then year after year after year, in that same garden bed - provided you care for them well, the location is well-lit by the sun; and the soil has just enough moisture - you will continue to enjoy the health benefits of asparagus.
Asparagus plants has a life span of at least 20-30 years; some even more.
Asparagus are either male or female
Male asparagus produce more stalks; they also live longer. If you're planting asparagus, make sure to buy male seeds or seedlings. What you have on your dinner plates are probably male asparagus, too; since they are what's usually being cultivated by farmers.
Female asparagus are not very welcome in asparagus farming. I've read in an article about asparagus in Hobby Farmers at www.HobbyFarms.com that female asparagus exerts a lot of efforts producing seeds that they produce lower edible yields as opposed to the male kinds. They produce seeds that are well-seated in the ground. These female seeds produce other seeds that need to be pulled out from the ground like weeds. In the long run, they will tend to ruin their beds; with less edible produce.
Asparagus emits a urine-like smell
You are not imagining it. When asparagus are not kept well in the fridge, it may produce a urine-like smell. It may be the same chemical compounds that cause some of people's pee to smell funny after eating asparagus. Here's an article from Mental Floss that may better explain this stinky phenomenon. In any case, the best way to prevent your fridge from smelling like a loo, it is best to keep the asparagus dry. Wrap them in an old newspaper or thick kitchen towels; before storing them inside a plastic container or bag.
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