The health benefits of asparagus include goodhealth, healthy pregnancy, improved fertility, relief from the pre-menstrual syndrome, and improved bone health. It is also beneficial in managing conditions like diabetes, hangovers, cataract, rheumatism, depression, diseases, and convulsions. It reduces urinary tract infections and blood cholesterol. Asparagus is also good for digestive health and has shown anticancer potential.
What is Asparagus?
Asparagus, scientifically known as Asparagus officinalis, belongs to the family of lilies and is valued for its therapeutic properties.It is derived from a Greek word meaning ‘sprout’ and about 300 different species of this sprout exist all over the world.
It is available in white, green, and purple colors. White asparagus is grown away from the sunlight and hence, is deficient of the green pigment, chlorophyll. The purple one is loaded with and which provide a unique color to the vegetable.
The medicinal effect of this plant extends from its root to shoot and its usage has been tested and proven in scientific as well as indigenous systems of medicine like Siddha, Ayurveda, and Unani.
Asparagus Nutrition Facts
Asparagus is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and essential proteins.It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 ( ), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and vitamin K (phylloquinone).
The mineral treasures that are stored in it include iron, calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, and potassium.
Asparagus contains a very low amount of calories with no cholesterol and is low in sodium as well. Along with this, it is also a rich source of dietary fiber, which is essential for the body.
Asparagus contains a very low amount of calories with no cholesterol and is low in sodium as well. Along with this, it is also a rich source of dietary fiber, which is essential for the body.
SUMMARY: Asparagus is a low-calorie vegetable that is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, especially folate and vitamins A, C and K.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
1. Good Source of Antioxidant
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.
These substances have been found to have blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anticancer effects in a number of human, test-tube and animal studies (5Trusted Source, 6, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source).
What’s more, purple asparagus contains powerful pigments called anthocyanins, which give the vegetable its vibrant color and have antioxidant effects in the body (9Trusted Source).
Eating asparagus along with other fruits and vegetables can provide your body with a range of antioxidants to promote good health.
SUMMARY: Asparagus is a good source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants prevent the accumulation of harmful free radicals and may reduce your risk of chronic disease.
2. Can Improve Digestive Health
Dietary fiber is essential for good digestive health.
Just half a cup of asparagus contains 1.8 grams of fiber, which is 7% of your daily needs.
Studies suggest that a diet high in fiber-rich fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes (13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).
Asparagus is particularly high in insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and supports regular bowel movements.
It also contains a small amount of soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract.
Soluble fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus(16Trusted Source).
Increasing the number of these beneficial bacteria plays a role in strengthening the immune system and producing essential nutrients like vitamins B12 and K2 (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source).
Eating asparagus as part of a fiber-rich diet is an excellent way to help meet your fiber needs and keep your digestive system healthy.
SUMMARY; As a good source of fiber, asparagus promotes regularity and digestive health and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
3. Helps you get in the mood
You may want to consider adding asparagus to your next date night menu: the veggie is a natural aphrodisiac thanks to vitamin B6 and folate, which can help boost feelings of arousal. Plus, vitamin E stimulates sex hormones, including estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
4. Helps Support a Healthy Pregnancy
Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, also known as vitamin B9.
Just half a cup of asparagus provides adults with 34% of their daily folate needs and pregnant women with 22% of their daily needs (&).
Folate is an essential nutrient that helps form red blood cells and produce DNA for healthy growth and development. It’s especially important during the early stages of pregnancy to ensure the healthy development of the baby.
In fact, adequate folate is so vital during pre-pregnancy and early pregnancy that folate supplements are recommended to ensure women meet their requirements.
SUMMARY: Asparagus is high in folate (vitamin B9), an important nutrient that helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy.
5. Helps Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure affects more than 1.3 billion people worldwide and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke (24Trusted Source).
Potassium lowers blood pressure in two ways: by relaxing the walls of blood vessels and excreting excess salt through urine (27Trusted Source).
Asparagus is a good source of potassium, providing 6% of your daily requirement in a half-cup serving.
What’s more, research in rats with high blood pressure suggests that asparagus may have other blood pressure-lowering properties. In one study, rats were fed either a diet with 5% asparagus or a standard diet without asparagus.
After 10 weeks, the rats on the asparagus diet had 17% lower blood pressure than the rats on the standard diet (28Trusted Source).
Researchers believed this effect was due to an active compound in asparagus that causes blood vessels to dilate.
However, human studies are needed to determine whether this active compound has the same effect in humans.
In any case, eating more potassium-rich vegetables, such as asparagus, is a great way to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
SUMMARY: Asparagus contains potassium, a mineral that can help lower high blood pressure. In addition, animal research has found that asparagus may contain an active compound that dilates blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.
6. It Can Help Fight Cancer
This herbaceous plant—along with avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts—is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.
7. Asparagus Is a Brain Booster
Another anti-aging property of this delicious spring veggie is that it may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12—found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy—to help prevent cognitive impairment. In a study from Tufts University, older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12 performed better on a test of response speed and mental flexibility. (If you’re 50-plus, be sure you’re getting enough B12: your ability to absorb it decreases with age.)
Learn more about anti-aging foods with our best foods to help keep your brain young.
8. Improves Fertility
The root of asparagus racemosus is widely appreciated in Ayurvedic therapy and is famously known as Shatavari, which means ‘one who has 100 husbands’.Shatavari has aphrodisiac properties and is used to regulate the hormones and cure male and female sexual disorders. It has anti-anxiety properties and helps in curing physical and mental debility in males. It also helps in enhancing the libido and boosts sperm count and its motility. In females, asparagus has been proven to be effective in menopausal syndrome and anemia. Shatavari has been trusted as a galactagogue and is also valued for its effectiveness in improving the quality and quantity of breast milk while boosting the appetite of nursing women. Research studies conducted on animals have demonstrated positive effects on the genitals and the mammary glands of the female subjects who consumed adequate amounts of asparagus.
9. Controls Diabetes
The anti-inflammatory nutrients present in asparagus help in reducing the risk of chronic health ailments, including type 2 diabetes. This beneficial effect is also attributed to the presence of the mineral chromium, which plays a vital role in regulating the blood sugar levels of the body.Studies conducted in this regard have shown significant results and have proven that it helps in keeping a check on blood sugar levels, improves insulin secretion, and provides an anti-diabetic effect.
10. Supports healthy bones
Asparagus is high in vitamin K. Vitamin K is well known for its importance as a major blood-clotting factor, but it is also necessary for bone mineralization, cell growth and tissue renewal. New studies indicate its synergistic partnership with vitamin D in promoting bone health!
11. Promotes healthy skin
Six spears of asparagus contain 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant in the body that can protect the skin against sun damage. Vitamin A also reduces the production of sebum from the pores and prevents acne breakouts due to oily skin and blockages.
12. Anti-aging benefits
The antioxidant glutathione is thought to slow the aging process, according to a 1998 article in The Lancet journal. And the folate that asparagus provides works with B12 to prevent cognitive decline. A Tufts University study found that older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12 performed better during a test of response speed and mental flexibility than those with lower levels of folate and B12.
13. Keeping you cleansed and preventing kidney stones
Asparagus can act as a natural diuretic, according to a 2010 study published in the West Indian Medical Journal. This can help rid the body of excess salt and fluid, making it especially good for people suffering from edema and high blood pressure. It also helps flush out toxins in kidneys and prevent kidney stones. On the other hand, the National Institutes of Health recommends that people who are suffering from uric acid kidney stones should avoid asparagus.
14. Contains Anti-inflammatory Properties
Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients help to reduce common chronic health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Asparagus is full of anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants, both of which make it a great food for preventing disease.
15. Serves as a Natural Diuretic
Something else to know about asparagus nutrition is that the unique chemical properties of asparagus make it act as a natural diuretic, which means asparagus promotes the production of urine. This increases the excretion of water from the body, in particular ridding the body of excess salt and fluid.
Asparagus is used along with lots of fluids as “irrigation therapy” to increase urine output. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema, which is the accumulation of fluids in the body’s tissues. It’s also helpful for people who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.
Additionally, researchers have concluded that another benefit of asparagus nutrition is that it can be also used to treat urinary tract infections and other conditions of the urinary tract that cause pain and swelling.
16. Better Eyesight
Asparagus contains essential B vitamins that are helpful in retaining healthy eyesight. Studies have found that this group of vitamins has properties that allow them to prevent macular degeneration effectively is associated with age. There is also evidence of its ability to prevent cataracts from forming in the eye.
17. Reduce Inflammation Caused By Rheumatism
Rheumatic arthritis is highly common among seniors, and it is characterized by inflammation, joint pain and inhibited movement. Niacin is often prescribed to reduce this pain, but an intake of asparagus can provide the necessary amount without inducing harmful side effects that medication does. Its properties also help in reducing the swelling and aching of the joints.
18. Prevent Tuberculosis
Caused by infectious bacteria that target the lungs, tuberculosis gives births to symptoms such as vomiting, fatigue and even coughing blood. The roots of asparagus are helpful in treating lung-related diseases such tuberculosis and bronchitis.
18. Reduces Risk of Neurodegenerative Disease
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia can be extremely stressful not only for the sufferer but their family as well. An addition of asparagus to one’s diet can lessen the risks of developing such a disease because of the folate content that it contains. It plays a role in producing serotonin as well, which is important to ensure proper cognitive and behavioral development.
19. Treats Symptoms of Epilepsy
The main symptoms of the neurological disease epilepsy are the painful seizures. The spasms that are suffered by the individual are very painful and limit the control that they have on their body. Asparagus has been treated like an herbal remedy for epileptic seizures, and this use is dated back to the tribal communities that knew of this benefit.
20. Increase Cell Production
The copper in asparagus helps in the crucial process of oxygenating the blood, and a disruption in the process is what causes stunted growth and slow metabolism. An intake of asparagus can fight off improper oxygenation of red blood cells and reduce the symptoms of malnourishment.
21. Lower Cholesterol Levels
The dietary fiber and niacin in asparagus can help in reducing levels of harmful cholesterol. An intake of the sprout can improve blood profile and lead to lower risks or cardiovascular disease as a result.
22. Increased Energy Levels
The magnesium content in asparagus can help in keeping you energetic and alert for longer periods of time without resulting in fatigue. An increased metabolism is also a result of intake of asparagus which can boost physical performance.
23. Cures Hangovers
Asparagus extract contains essential amino acids that may prove effective in curing hangovers. A hangover refers to the unpleasanteffect caused due to the substantial consumption of alcoholic drinks. Its symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, and stomach disorders like nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. Research studies have demonstrated that the leaves and shoots of asparagus contain a good amount of inorganic mineral content, which also aids in the protection of the liver cells from the toxic effects of alcohol.
24. High in thiamine
This B vitamin is a fundamental component of proper brain and liver function. A diet that is low in thiamine can result in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which presents itself as mental confusion, tremors and even hallucinations. Frequent alcohol consumption is commonly associated with a thiamine deficiency, as it drastically depletes these vitamin stores.
25. High in potassium
Potassium is a much-needed electrolyte that the nervous and circulatory systems use to conduct electrical impulses and maintain water balance in the body. Potassium is necessary to maintain normal blood pressure and is especially important to those who suffer from hypertension.
26. Good Source of Fiber.
The fiber in asparagus helps to improve digestion because it moves food through the gut. One serving of asparagus contains more than a gram of soluble fiber, which has been shown to lower our risk of heart disease.
Soluble fiber dissolves in our bodies into a gluey mass that works to trap fat, sugars, bacteria and toxins, and move them out of the body. Because soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion, it slows our digestion (1).
27. It beats bloating
When it comes to fighting bloat, asparagus. The veggie helps promote overall digestive health (another benefit of all that soluble and insoluble fiber!). And thanks to prebiotics—carbohydrates that can’t be digested and help encourage a healthy balance of good bacteria, or probiotics, in your digestive track—it can also reduce gas. Plus, as a natural diuretic, asparagus helps flush excess liquid, combating belly bulge.
28. It’s a rich source of folic acid
Four asparagus spears contain 22% of your recommended daily allowance of folic acid. “Folic acid is essential for women who are planning on getting pregnant, since it can help protect against neural tube defect,” says Gans. One 2009 study published in PLoS Medicine found that folic acid supplementsby 50% when taken for at least a year before conception compared with women who didn’t take additional folic acid.
The Bottom Line
Asparagus is a nutritious and tasty addition to any diet. It’s low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and K.
Additionally, eating asparagus has a number of potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, healthy pregnancy outcomes and lower blood pressure.
Plus, it’s inexpensive, easy to prepare and makes a delicious addition to a number of recipes.
How to Pick out and Prepare Asparagus
When shopping for asparagus, look for the stronger spears that have tight heads. You can test the freshness by making sure that it snaps when bent.When prepping your asparagus, trim the bottom ends first. Make sure you wash the spears thoroughly before cooking them.
How to Cook Asparagus
There are so many ways to cook asparagus: It can be cooked in a pan with water, lemon and olive oil; it can be grilled over medium heat (which is my favorite); it can be roasted in the oven or even cooked in the microwave if you are short on time.
Although the flavor of asparagus is delicious all by itself, you can always spice it up a bit. Try adding garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. You can add asparagus to a healthy meal or eat it as an appetizer or side dish. Have it with your meat of choice, add it to a salad, or try it with an over easy egg.
- Asparagus comes in three varieties: American and British, which is green; French, which is purple; and Spanish and Dutch, which is white.
- Asparagus was first cultivated about 2,500 years ago in Greece. “Asparagus” is a Greek word, meaning stalk or shoot.
- The Greeks believed asparagus was an herbal medicine that would cure toothaches and prevent bee stings, among other things.
- Galen, a second-century physician, described asparagus as “cleansing and healing.” Claims for medicinal benefits of asparagus persist to this day.
- The Romans became great lovers of asparagus, and grew it in high-walled courtyards. In their conquests, they spread it to the Gauls, Germans, Britons and from there, the rest of the world.
- The top asparagus-producing states are California, Washington and Michigan.
- Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils.
- Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10 inches in 24 hours.
- Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.
- The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking. Early in the season, there may be four or five days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours.
- After harvesting is done, the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
- An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first three years after the crowns are planted, allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system.
- A well-cared-for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
- The larger the diameter, the better the quality!
Garlic Asparagus Recipe
Total Time: 15 minutes
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- Melt the coconut oil in a skillet on medium high heat.
- Add the garlic and asparagus to the pan. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue to cook until desired tenderness is achieved.
Asparagus Tapas with Red Pepper Sauce Recipe
Total Time: 40 minutes
- 2 large red bell peppers, cored & seeded
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 – 4 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh basil
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil
- 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
- 1/2 cup water
- Coarsely chop red peppers.
- Cook peppers and garlic in oil over low heat for 30 minutes.
- Puree mixture in food processor or blender. Add vinegar, basil, salt and pepper.
- Bring water to boil in the skillet; add asparagus spears. Return water to boiling; simmer, covered about 5 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender.
- Spoon red pepper sauce on platter; arrange asparagus on top of sauce.
- Garnish with red pepper and basil, if desired.
Asparagus is safe when eaten in food amounts, but there still isn’t enough information regarding asparagus nutrition to know if asparagus is safe when used in larger medicinal amounts. It can cause allergic reactions when eaten as a vegetable or used on the skin if you have a food sensitivity or intolerance.
It may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to other members of the Liliaceae family, which includes onions, leeks, garlic and chives.
Asparagus works like a water pill or diuretic. Eating large amounts of asparagus or using a supplement might decrease how well the body gets rid of lithium. This could increase how much lithium is in the body and result in serious side effects.
Lithium affects the flow of sodium through nerve and muscle cells in the body. It’s sometimes used to treat the symptoms of manic depression, like aggression, hyperactivity and anger.
After eating asparagus, some people report their urine gives off a strange odor. The odor, once suspected of being a product of a defective metabolism, is actually harmless — it’s produced because of the asparagus sulfur compounds that your body did not absorb.
One study showed that 10% of 307 subjects tested were able to smell the odor in urine at high dilutions, suggesting a genetically determined specific hypersensitivity (1).