Asparagus is native to most of Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. It’s season is spring and it can be grown from home. Asparagus was highly popular with the ancient Romans who valued it as a food and for its medicinal properties. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, folate, riboflavin, and thiamine. It is also high in fiber, low in sodium, and high in the minerals manganese, copper, and potassium. In one cup of asparagus, there are 20 calories, 2.2 grams of protein, 0.2 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.8 grams of fiber. Folate is important for pregnant women in the prevention of neural tube defects– like spina bifida. It also lowers blood levels of homocysteine which is linked to heart disease, strokes and dementia. Antioxidants may protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. Research has also shown that fructooligosaccharides, which is a type of soluble fiber found in asparagus, helps lower blood lipids and can also act as a prebiotic which promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine. To preserve nutrients, refrigerating asparagus after purchase and use as soon as possible is a must. The best cooking method for nutrition retention is steaming, but roasting also preserves nutrients and brings out flavor. Sprinkling it with fresh lemon juice adds vitamin C and a tart flavor.
Source: Reinhard, Tonia. Superfoods: the Healthiest Foods on the Planet. Buffalo, NY: Firefly, 2010. Print.