Looking forward to another year of fresh asparagus!
Check out these great benefits.
Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food that is high in folic acid and is also a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and vitamin C, and thiamine. Extensive research into asparagus nutrition has resulted in this funny-looking vegetable being ranked among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to reduce the effect of cell-damaging free radicals.
Packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, asparagus has been used as a medicinal vegetable for 2,500 years. The list of asparagus nutritional benefits is long, for it helps your heart, digestion, bones and even cells.
Asparagus Nutrition Facts
Asparagus nutrition is impressive because it contains virtually no fat and remains very low in calories, with only 20 calories for five spears, yet asparagus is packed with vitamins and minerals. Otherwise, it contains two grams of protein, only four grams of carbohydrates and zero sodium.
Asparagus nutrition facts, listed in recommended daily values:
20 calories per cup
2 grams of protein
38% vitamin K
20% vitamin C
15% vitamin B1 Thiamin
10% vitamin B6
8% vitamin A
6% vitamin B2 Riboflavin
5% vitamin B3 Niacin
Health Benefits of Asparagus
1. Good Source of Vitamin K
Asparagus is high in vitamin K, which is the blood clotting vitamin. Many studies have found that vitamin K can also improve our bone health. These studies have also demonstrated that vitamin K can not only increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people, but it can actually reduce fracture rates (1).
Vitamin K is also a key player in supporting heart health. It helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, including keeping calcium out of your artery linings and other body tissues, where it can cause damage.
2. Contains Anti-inflammatory and Antioxidant 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.
The antioxidant glutathione is thought to slow the aging process and break down free radicals; it can also help to protect your skin from sun damage and pollution (2) (3).
3. 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.
4. Nourishes the Digestive Tract
Asparagus contains significant amounts of the nutrient inulin, which does not break down in our digestive tract. Instead, it passes undigested to our large intestines, where it becomes a food source for good and healthy bacteria. Good bacteria are responsible for better nutrient absorption, a lower risk of allergies, and a lower risk of colon cancer (4).
5. Helps with a Healthy Pregnancy
Researchers now know that asparagus nutrition can help maintain a healthy pregnancy. There is a significant amount of folate in asparagus, making asparagus an important vegetable choice for women of childbearing age.
Folate can decrease the risk of neural-tube defects in fetuses, so it’s essential for women who are looking to become pregnant to get enough of it.
Folate works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body break down, use and create new proteins. Folate helps form red blood cells and produce DNA, the building block of the human body, which carries genetic information (5).
6. 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 (6).
Something you may not know about asparagus nutrition? The three grams of dietary fiber found in asparagus can lower our risk of type 2 diabetes. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve; instead, it’s stiff components scrub the digestive tract lining, removing mucoid plaque, trapped toxins and other material.
Fiber also releases organic acids in the body that provide us fuel, cleanse the digestive tract, help the liver to function, and rid our bodies of toxins, pathogens, added cholesterol and extra sugar.
Dietary fiber intake provides many health benefits, but sadly the average fiber intakes for US children and adults are less than half of the recommended levels.
Individuals with high intakes of dietary fiber appear to be at significantly lower risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increasing fiber intake lowers blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels (7).
7. High in Vitamin B1 Thiamine
Like most of the B-vitamins, thiamine plays a role in how our bodies use energy from food and is vital for cellular function. Thiamine specifically helps the body convert carbohydrates to energy, which is important for metabolism, focus and strength.
B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, so they are critical for blood sugar management (8).
B vitamins also play a key role in regulating homocysteine, which is an amino acid that can lead to heart disease if it reaches excessive levels in our blood. This makes asparagus a great option for heart health, too.
One study showed that older adults with healthy levels of vitamin B12 performed better on a test that measured speed and mental flexibility.
Vitamin B is commonly known as the “energy vitamin” because it can definitely improve your energy and help you overcome fatigue and exhaustion. It improves energy by supporting thyroid function and cellular methylation (9).
8. Helps Fight Cancer
A surprising aspect about asparagus nutrition is that it’s rich in glutathione, a detoxifying compound that can help destroy carcinogens. Researchers believe glutathione is so pivotal to our health that the levels in our cells are becoming a predictor of how long we will live.
Glutathione plays a crucial role in immune function. This means that asparagus may help fight or protect against certain cancers, including bone, breast, lung and colon cancers.
Persistent inflammation and chronic oxidative stress are risk factors for many cancer types, and both of these issues can be deferred by a dietary intake of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients (10).