Asparagus is an amazing food that, for centuries, has been used for nutritional and medicinal purposes. Known for its diuretic properties, asparagus contains high amounts of the alkaloid, Asparagine, which is the “active life” of the plant. 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.
The harvesting and eating of asparagus has been known to date back to ancient Egypt, Syria, Spain, Greece and Italy. Asparagus became more available to the “New World” (the U.S.) around 1850. Today it’s served as a casual side dish and even incorporated into gourmet delicacies.
Asparagus Nutrition Facts
Asparagus nutrition is impressive because it contains virtually no fat and remains very low in calories, with only 20 calories per every five spears, yet asparagus is jam packed with vitamins and minerals.
Otherwise, it contains two grams of protein, only four grams of carbohydrates.
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
Asparagus is composed of the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and natural salts. As with any live food, when overcooked, it looses much of its nutrition, but if lightly steamed or sautéed at lower heat, it can hold its value. It’s also great for creating healing broth.
Great Source of Vitamin K
Vitamin K can improve many things in our bodies such as blood clotting bone health. Vitamin K can also increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic sufferers, and can actually reduce bone fractures and even breaks.
A little known fact is that vitamin K also supports heart health and can help reduce or even prevent hardening of the arteries, including keeping calcium OUT of your artery linings and other body tissues, where it can cause damage.
Asparagus as an Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant
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 reducing pain as well as reducing and preventing various diseases.
The antioxidant Glutathione has been said to slow the aging process and break down free radicals. It can also help to protect your skin from sun damage and pollution. Add this to a mix of carrots in juice or salad, and you have a natural sunscreen!
As a Natural Diuretic
Something else to know about asparagus nutrition is that it promotes the production of healthy urine. Because it’s a natural diuretic, asparagus increases the excretion of water from the body, in particular ridding the body of excess salt and fluid. In fact, it is often used 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 a history of edema, urinary tract infections, high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.
Digestive Tract Health
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.
Asparagus is Great for 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 in their systems.
Folate works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help the body break down, use and create new proteins. It also helps form red blood cells and produce DNA, the building block of the human body, which carries genetic information.
Great 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.
Did You Know?
The dietary fiber found in asparagus can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes! This insoluble fiber becomes a stiff type of scrubber inside the digestive tract lining, removing plaque, mucous, toxins and other trapped material that needs to come out.
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. 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. 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.
Yes, Asparagus Can Even Help Fight Cancer
Because asparagus is rich in glutathione, it is a great destroyer of 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.
Juiced or Extracted
In the form of juice or extract, the diuretic powers of asparagus are immense. Taken alone, Asparagus juice can be rather strong, so blending it with other bases such as carrots can make it easier to drink. The juice will also aid digestion, kidney dysfunctions and glandular troubles. Additionally, this juice can be great for easing anemia symptoms.
As we mentioned before, many people drink the broth from cooked or steamed asparagus, which also has strong nutritional value.
As this juice helps the breaking up of oxalic acid crystals in the kidneys and throughout the muscular system, it is good for rheumatism and neuritis. Rheumatism can occur from a poor diet or eating too much meat, which generates excessive amounts of urea in the system, and can be painful.
So eat your asparagus because it’s one of the best medicines around!
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