Asparagus: A Delicacy?

Asparagus is native to Eurasia and was regarded as a delicacy by the Romans. The most renowned type of asparagus is the Argenteuil asparagus which is cultivated in France.

French asparagus can be peeled and cooked, and served together with a creamy mayonnaise-type sauce, or it can be used on Pizzas.

Asparagus: Nutritional Balance

Considered a delicacy since ancient times, asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It leads nearly all produce items in the wide array of nutrients it supplies in significant amounts for a healthy diet. The spears of asparagus are both succulent and tender.

Asparagus is the leading supplier among vegetables of folic acid. A 5.3 ounce serving provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance for folacin which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease. Folacin has been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, that cause paralysis and death in 2,500 babies each year.

In addition, asparagus contains compounds that stimulate the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestines, which aids food in moving through the colon.

Asparagus Nutrients

Asparagus root contains compounds called steroidal glycosides, which may help reduce inflammation. In fact, some Chinese herbalists have used it to treat arthritis.

Asparagus also contains useful amounts of calcium, magnesium and iodine and is an excellent source of folic acid. Moreover, vitamins A, C and E are also well supplied. Just one-half cup of cooked asparagus provides about 25 percent of the RDA for folic acid and more than 80 percent of the RDA for vitamin C.

With just 25 calories in eight medium-sized asparagus spears, you get 25 percent of your daily vitamin A and 15 percent of your vitamin C, plus essential folic acid. A 5.3 ounce serving provides 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance for folacin.

Asparagus is also low in sodium, contains no fat or cholesterol, is a good source of potassium, fiber, thiamin and vitamin B6 (in addition to the folic acid).

The mineral profile of asparagus, combined with an active amino acid it contains called asparagine, gives asparagus a diuretic effect.

Asparagus Nutrition Information

  • Asparagus is low in calories; only 20 per 5.3 oz. serving, less than 4 calories per spear.
  • Asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol.
  • Asparagus is very low in sodium.
  • Asparagus is a good source of potassium.
  • Asparagus is a good source of fiber (3 grams per 5.3 ounce serving).
  • Asparagus is an excellent source of folacin.
  • Asparagus is a significant source of thiamin.
  • Asparagus is a significant source of vitamin B6.
  • Asparagus is one of the richest sources of rutin, a drug which strengthens capillary walls.
  • Asparagus contains glutathione (GSH).

Buying the Best Asparagus

Asparagus stalks should be green with compact, closed tips and tender. Avoid flat stalks or stalks that have a lot of white in them.

Do not buy asparagus if they are soaking in water.

Asparagus will toughen rapidly, and should be used soon after purchase.

The best time of year to purchase asparagus is March to June.

Refrigeration will help retain the B and C vitamins, but wrap the ends in moist paper towel, then seal in a plastic bag.

Asparagus Facts

  • White asparagus is planted under mounds of soil, blocking sunlight and reducing the plans ability to produce chlorophyll.
  • If ridges form on stems of asparagus, this is a sign of age and soaking in ice water will help revive it.
  • The water that vegetables are cooked in will be high in vitamins and minerals. Use for soups and stews.
  • To revive limp asparagus, try placing them in a tall pot with ice water in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.
  • Always open asparagus cans from the bottom or you may break the tips. However, read the can carefully as they may be canned upside down.
  • The ancient Greeks and Romans believed that eating asparagus prevented bee stings.
  • To tenderize the asparagus stalks, try peeling the stalks with a potato peeler up to the bottom of the tips.
  • Asparagus contains a sulphur compound that may cause a strange odor in a person’s urine. This happens in approximately 40 percent of the population and is harmless.

 
Asparagus nutrition facts

Selecting and Storing Asparagus

Look for firm, thin stems with deep green or purplish closed tips. The cut ends should not be too woody, although a little woodiness at the base prevents the stalk from drying out. Once trimmed and cooked, asparagus loses about half its total weight. Occasionally, white asparagus that has a milder flavor than green asparagus is available. Some markets also offer purple asparagus, which has a fruitier flavor than green or white asparagus.

Use asparagus within a day or two after purchasing for best flavor. Store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel. Be sure to place the asparagus in the back of the refrigerator away from any light, since folate is destroyed by exposure to air, heat or light.

Speaking of folate, asparagus is richly endowed with it. Folate is a B vitamin that is essential in helping cells regenerate. Five asparagus spears contain 110mcg of folate, about 28 percent of the Daily Value. In addition to folate, another protective compound in asparagus is glutathione, a powerful antioxidant.

Serving Suggestions

  1. For hors d’oeuvres, roast asparagus along with other vegetables such as Portobello mushrooms and beets.
  2. Steam asparagus and serve with light lemon vinaigrette for a refreshing salad.
  3. Toss freshly cooked pasta with asparagus, olive oil and your favorite pasta spices.
  4. Chopped asparagus makes a healthful, flavorful and colorful addition to omelets.
  5. Saute asparagus with garlic, shiitake mushrooms and tofu or chicken.

Note: Persons who experience a strong odor in their urine after eating asparagus are not in any danger from eating this vegetable. A variety of different chemicals – all breakdown products of asparagus – can be found in the urine in connection with the “asparagus smell”.

Asparagus as an Aphrodisiac?

In spite of its humble and not-too-attrative appearance, asparagus is legendary for it’s aphrodisiac status. (Really!) Asparagus is rich in vitamin B6 and folate, both of which can boost arousal and orgasm. And it also boasts vitamin E, which stimulates sex hormones in both men and women.

Quick Fresh Asparagus

Prepare 1 pound fresh asparagus quickly and easily using your microwave.

In a microwave safe dish large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer, arrange the spears with the stem ends against the short edges of the dish and the tips facing the center. Cover the dish with plastic wrap or a lid, and microwave on high for 6 1/2 to 9 1/2 minutes.

Halfway through the cooking process, remove the dish from the oven and rearrange the asparagus so that the ones along the long sides of the pan, which have been receiving the most intense heat, are in the middle, and the ones in the middle are along the sides. Re-wrap and continue to cook. When the asparagus are done, unwrap the pan carefully, keeping your face away from the steam.

Spring Asparagus and Biscuits Recipe

  • 2 cups (8 oz.) cut, trimmed, fresh asparagus or
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen, cut asparagus
  • 1 cup plus 2-tablespoons packaged buttermilk biscuit mix
  • 1/3 cup fat free milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 cups fat free milk
  • 2 teaspoons instant chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup diced, cooked chicken
  • 1/3 cup fat free Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds, optional

Cook asparagus in small amount of water until crisp-tender; drain. Set aside. Using biscuit mix and 1/3-cup milk, prepare biscuits according to package directions. Cut biscuits with 2-1/2 inch cutter. Bake according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, mix together margarine, flour and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to bubble. Add milk and bouillon. Continue cooking and stirring until mixture boils. Cook and stir one minute longer. Add remaining ingredients except almonds. Cook about three minutes longer or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve over hot biscuits garnished with almonds.

Note: If using bakery biscuits, omit buttermilk biscuit mix and the 1/3-cup milk. Yield: 4 Servings

Nutrition information per 1-cup creamed asparagus, 1 biscuit: Calories: 420; Protein: 23g; Carbohdyrates: 38; Total Fat: 12g; Cholesterol: 23g; Sodium: 1,223

P.S. May is National Asparagus Month.

Asparagus FAQs

What is the healthiest way to eat asparagus?

Asparagus is a highly nutritious vegetable that can be eaten cooked or raw. Because of its tough texture, cooking is the most popular preparation method. However, thinly sliced or marinated raw spears can be equally enjoyable.

What part of asparagus should you not eat?

You can eat the whole spear except for the woody stem towards the bottom. Hold the asparagus spear on each end firmly. Gently bend the asparagus so that it bows out away from you. Keep bending until the asparagus snaps.

Why do you soak asparagus?

Fine grit can lurk in asparagus tips. To get rid of it, fill a bowl with cold water and soak the asparagus for a few minutes, then rinse off. That should rid the stems of any unpleasant sandiness.

What is the best way to eat asparagus?

Consider serving steamed, grilled, or roasted asparagus as the first course at dinner. It is traditionally served with fresh-melted butter or freshly-made Hollandaise sauce. Eat with forks or fingers. Asparagus gets soft and moist when you steam it, and the result can taste bland.

Why is asparagus bad for you?

However, eating asparagus can also have some side effects: Because of its high fiber content, asparagus can cause flatulence, stomach cramps, and gastric upset in some people. Asparagus contains asparagusic acid that may break down to sulfurous compounds and lend a funny smell to your urine.

Can u eat asparagus raw?

High in vitamin K and folate (vitamin B9), asparagus is extremely well balanced, even among nutrient-rich vegetables. … Asparagus is extremely low in calories at about 20 per serving (five spears), has no fat, and is low in sodium. It can be eaten raw or cooked; however, cooking times affect health benefits.

Can you get fat eating asparagus?

Asparagus is also rich in fiber, which has been linked to lower body weight and weight loss ( 36 , 37 ). Summary Asparagus has a number of features that make it a weight-loss friendly food. It’s low in calories, high in water and rich in fiber.

Why does asparagus make your pee smell?

When asparagus is digested, asparagusic acid gets broken down into sulfur containing byproducts. … When you pee, the sulfur byproducts evaporate almost immediately, causing you to smell that unpleasant scent. It’s worth noting that asparagus isn’t the only thing that can change the smell of your pee.

What do you cut off asparagus?

Whether you prefer your asparagus on the thick or thin side, it’s important to trim the pale ends of each stalk because they tend to be woody and tough. You might be accustomed to simply bending each stalk until it snaps in half, especially if you grew up snapping green beans.

Is thick or thin asparagus better?

The vegetable’s fiber is slightly more concentrated in thinner spears. Since thick and thin spears are both good bets, choose the size that best suits your cooking method. Thicker stalks are better for broiling and roasting because they will stand up to the intense dry heat that would quickly shrivel skinnier spears.

What is the proper etiquette for eating asparagus?

Eat asparagus with your fingers. Pick it up from its larger end, not from the spear. Eat asparagus with cutlery if it is served with sauce, or with melted cheese, or as an accompaniment to a dish. Do not eat the larger and tougher end of the asparagus.

How do you trim asparagus spears?

  • Line up the asparagus spears on a cutting board.
  • Grab half of the stalks with your non-cutting hand. Using a large chef’s knife, slice off the bottom tough parts of the stalks just where the color turns from white to green.
  • Repeat with the other half of the stalks.

Do I need to wash asparagus?

Rinse asparagus under cold running water to remove any dirt or sand from the stalks and tips before beginning preparation. Do not wash until ready to use. Begin preparing the asparagus by simply trimming off the bottom ends of the stalks.

What utensil do you use to eat asparagus?

(Asparagus is traditionally a finger food, and the English and many other nationalities still see it as such.) Think twice, however, about using your fingers for unsauced, firm spears if your fellow diners use a knife and fork or if you’re a guest at a formal meal.

Does asparagus prevent hangovers?

A new study shows that the amino acids and minerals in asparagus extract may ease hangovers and protect liver cells against the toxins in alcohol.

How many pieces of asparagus should I eat?

Five asparagus spears or 80g of asparagus counts as one portion towards your five-a-day.

What is better broccoli or asparagus?

Both vegetables are a great source of fiber and potassium. Broccoli beats out asparagus by quite a lot in the vitamin K and calcium category whereas asparagus is lower in calories and is a bit more well-rounded with the nutrients. Asparagus is a great source of iron, especially for a vegetable.

Is asparagus bad for arthritis?

The top foods high in sulfur are onions, garlic, asparagus and cabbage. So you can eat sautéed cabbage with some garlic, some onions with your grass-fed burger, and of course, asparagus as a side dish or any sort of cabbage, coleslaw or sauerkraut. Those sulfur-rich foods help reduce arthritis symptoms.

Does asparagus give you gas?

Certain vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, asparagus, and cauliflower are known to cause excess gas. Like beans, these vegetables also contain the complex sugar, raffinose.

How long is asparagus good in fridge?

If properly stored, asparagus will typically keep well for about 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Does asparagus detox your body?

Asparagus contains glutathione, a well-known antioxidant that promotes detoxification. It is also a good source of fiber, folate, iron, and vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as being beneficial to those with high blood pressure. Asparagus is also known to help the kidney and bladder cleanse itself.

Is asparagus high in iron?

With 2.87 milligrams of iron in a one-cup serving, asparagus gives you a bit more than one-third of your daily allowance.

Read More: Food Facts