Updated: Aug 26
Asparagus! What’s not to love about these highly nutritious slender green spears?
Depicted by Egyptians as far back as 3,000 BC;enjoyed fresh by ancient Greeks and Romans,this royal vegetable was so highly sought after by emperor Caesar Augustus that the famed Asparagus Fleets made rounds to import the best varietals back to Rome, while the fastest runners carried fresh spears in the Alps, where they could be frozen for later use.
asparag in Persian means“sprout” or “shoot”
Named for its shape like spring bamboo shoots, asparagus has a deliciously aromatic flavor and soft dietary fiber.
Reigning supreme in the nutrition category,Chinese medicine books refer to asparagus as “dragonbeard dish”! Andyet contrary to the fiery images this name invokes, its therapeutic effect on patients with hypertension and heart disease is that of calming and relieving fatigue.
The nutrients in asparagus spana wide range of health benefits. Rich in folate,also known as Vitamin B9(essential for cell development)this nutrient supports rapid growth periods such as fetal development,infancy and adolescence.For those with anemia, it counters weakness and tiredness. By regulating the buildup of the amino acid homocysteine,which can block blood and nutrients from reaching the brain and interfere with the production of the feel-good hormones:serotonin,dopamine, and norepinephrine, folate lowers the risk of strokes and depression.
Fiber, potassium and antioxidants support cardiovascular health, while phosphorous, iron, vitamin K and calcium prevent osteoporosis. Aside from containing better protein, carbohydrates, multivitamins and trace elements than many other vegetables, asparagus is rich in saponins, a type of phytonutrient credited with reducing cancer risks and assisting in maintaining blood pressure, regulating blood sugar, and controlling blood lipid levels.
The combination of trace elements of selenium, histone, folic acid,nucleic acid, asparagus glycoside and aspartic acid also work to prevent malignant changes in normal cells, the spread of cancer cells and kill tumors when asparagus is consumed daily. It has proven effective in treating lymphoma, bladder cancer, lung cancer, kidney stones and skin cancer!
On a lighter note, if you’re thinking about enjoying a glass of wine or two, try eating asparagus before! Since asparagus improves the rate of alcohol decomposition and metabolism, consumption before or after drinking can relieve drunkenness and prevent hangovers!Consisting of 93% water,there is an element of hydration involved in this theory,but asparagus is also a diuretic. Its minerals and amino acids help protect the liver from toxins, and the enzymes in asparagus can help break down alcohol.Had a glass too many? Eat asparagus the following day to relieve headache, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms!
How to store and prepare asparagus
Wrap up the stem ends!
To keep asparagus fresh,wrap the stem ends in a wet paper towel, andstore the asparagus in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.The fresher they are the less you need to do to them. Rinse the asparagus and snap off the woody ends with two fingers. Do as the French do and peel the lower halves for beautiful presentation and a less stringy bite. Since there is little difference between thick and thin, choose the size that best suits your cooking method. Thicker stalks stand up better to intense heat and so are better for broiling and roasting. Quick-cooking thinner spears are good candidates for steaming and stir-frying.
Friend or foe?
When pairing asparagus, save bananas for banana splits or banana bread since the combination of the potassium, calcium and other minerals with the fruit acid will stimulate the intestines and stomach, leading to nausea, vomiting and other discomfort!
How can you get the most out of your asparagus meal
Pair with purpose by combining asparagus with some tender lump crab meat! Rich in calcium,when crab meat is combined with the vitamin K in asparagus, the latter helps calcium adhere to bones,so that eating both together has the desirable effect of strengthening bones.