Asparagus is one of the lowest calorie foods due to its lack of fat and very low carbohydrate content. Interestingly, it is one of the vegetables with the highest protein content. Shortly after consuming asparagus you’ll notice your urine has a unique odor. This is due to the asparagine, an active substance that forms part of its volatile essential oil and is excreted through the urine.
Neural tube defect prevention
Diuretic: High potassium and low sodium levels combined with asparagine stimulates urine production, aiding in the elimination of fluids retained in the tissues.
Alkalizing agent: The alkalizing effect of asparagus reduces the acidity of the blood and helps detoxify wastes in cells, tissues, and muscles.
Kidney functions: Due to its diuretic properties, asparagus stimulates kidney function. Asparagus may also help prevent and dissolve kidney stones due to its diuretic and alkalizing properties. This helps break up oxalic acid crystals formed in the kidney.
Cancer prevention: Asparagus is a prime source of the anti-oxidant glutathione that can help prevent cancer.
Gut flora: Inulin, an indigestible carbohydrate that is present in asparagus, stimulates growth and activity of healthy bacteria in the large intestine.
Pregnancy: Folate is an essential mineral for pregnant women. Inadequate folate is linked to increased risk for neural tube defects in infants as well as other birth defects such as spinal bifida.
Good source of:
Potassium, folic acid, vitamin A, C, K, B-complex
Caution: Those suffering from nephritis should consume asparagus sparingly due to its diuretic effects.
Purchasing, storing, & enjoying:
Purchasing: Select bright, green asparagus that is closed, compact, and firm. The ends should not be overly dry. Also look for stems that are uniform in size to ensure even cooking. Peak season is from February to June.
Storing: Fresh asparagus should be refrigerated at all times. Wrap the ends of the stem in a moist paper towel to keep moisture in the vegetable.
Enjoying: If tips are slightly wilted, soak them in cold water to freshen them up.
- Asparagus is normally cooked for 5-10 minutes. To retain the most nutrients, the steaming method is preferred. If the stalk is particularly tough it should be peeled and ends should be removed.
- While canned, asparagus loses part of its vitamin and fiber content. However it still retains the mineral and diuretic substances present in asparagus.
- Asparagus can be eaten raw in salads. Slice or peel thinly to create a new base for a salad. Or eat spears with your favorite plant-based dip.
Resources & recipes:
Asparagus with maple tahinini dressing: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2009/04/asparagus-with-maple-tahini-dressing.html
Roasted asparagus with chickpeas and potatoes: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2013/03/roasted-asparagus-salad-with-chickpeas-and-potatoes.html
Alfredo with asparagus: http://inpursuitofmore.com/2013/04/25/recipe-spring-asparagus-pasta-w-vegan-alfredo-sauce/
Asparagus ribbon salad: http://www.treehugger.com/easy-vegetarian-recipes/shaved-raw-asparagus-lemon-dressing-vegan.html