Asparagus, officially known as Asparagus officinalis, is a member of the lily family. Asparagus is a popular vegetable in many parts of the world. Depending on the type of asparagus, people eat it raw or cooked and in dishes such as soups, stews, salads, or on its own.
The nutrients in asparagus can support heart and bone health, while the folate and iron that it contains may be especially beneficial during pregnancy.
It is also beneficial in managing conditions like diabetes, hangovers, cataract, rheumatism, depression, neurodegenerative diseases, and convulsions. It reduces urinary tract infections and blood cholesterol. It is also good for digestive health and has shown anticancer potential.
This popular vegetable comes in a variety of colors, including green, white and purple. It’s used in dishes around the world, including frittatas, pastas and stir-fries. It is available in white, green, and purple colors. White asparagus is grown away from the sunlight and hence, is deficient of the green pigment, chlorophyll. The purple one is loaded with phytochemicals and anthocyanins which provide a unique color to the vegetable.
Asparagus is a great source of vitamins, minerals, and essential proteins. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and vitamin K (phylloquinone). The mineral treasures that are stored in it include iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium and potassium.
Benefits of Asparagus
1. Many Nutrients but Few Calories:
Asparagus is also low in calories and packeked with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Asparagus, like other green vegetables, is high in antioxidants. These include vitamin E, vitamin C and glutathione, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. Asparagus is particularly high in the flavonoids quercetin, isorhamnetin and kaempferol).
These substances have been found to have blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and anticancer effects in a number of human, test-tube and animal studies.
2. Supporting Fetal development:
Asparagus is rich in folate, also known as vitamin B-9. This nutrient plays an essential role in cell development. Folate is an essential nutrient, and it is especially important at times of rapid growth, such as during gestation, infancy, and adolescence. Taking folic acid supplements during pregnancy appears to help prevent pregnancy loss and protect the growing fetus from neural tube abnormalities.
3. Fights PMS:
An asparagus extract can be used effectively for easing pre-menstrual bloating. The presence of essential nutrients helps to combat depression and fatigue, as well as reduce menstrual cramps. It also helps in controlling blood loss and maintaining hormonal balance during menstruation.
4. Good Source of Antioxidants:
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress contributes to aging, chronic inflammation and many diseases, including cancer. Asparagus, like other green vegetables, is high in antioxidants. These include vitamin E, vitamin C and glutathione, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols.
Just half a cup of asparagus contains 1.8 grams of fiber, which is 7% of your daily needs.
5. Lower risk of depression:
It may do so by preventing too much homocysteine from forming in the body. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can block blood and nutrients from reaching the brain.
If too much homocysteine is present, it may also interfere with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These hormones regulate mood, sleep, and appetite.
6. Improves Fertility:
The root of asparagus racemosus is widely appreciated in Ayurvedic therapy and is famously known as Shatavari, which means ‘one who has 100 husbands’. Shatavari has aphrodisiac properties and is used to regulate the hormones and cure male and female sexual disorders. It has anti-anxiety properties and helps in curing physical and mental debility in males. It also helps in enhancing the libido and boosts sperm count and its motility. In females, asparagus has been proven to be effective in menopausal syndrome and anemia.
7. Can help weight loss:
Not only is asparagus low in fat and calories (one cup sets you back a mere 32 calories), but it also contains lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, making it a good choice if you’re trying to lose weight. Because your body digests fiber slowly, it keeps you feeling full in between meals.
“Fiber can definitely help you feel satiated, making it beneficial for weight loss,” says Gans. “It can also aid constipation, and research suggests it may help lower cholesterol
8. Anti-diabetic Properties:
As per a 2012 study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, asparagus extract has anti-diabetic properties and improves insulin secretion. Also, in another rat study published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, asparagus improves early diabetic nephropathy
9. Eye Care:
Asparagus is a good source of vitamin A, which is essential for healthy vision. Due to the presence of antioxidants, it helps in defending the retina from the damage caused by the oxygen-free radicals.
The body naturally produces toxic molecules known as free radicals, and if too many build up, they can cause damage. Cardiovascular disease may be one result of this. The antioxidants in asparagus — including beta carotene, tocopherol, and selenium may contribute to cardiovascular health because antioxidants may combat free radicals.
11. Treats Rheumatism:
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the joints. Studies have shown that the consumption of folate-rich food like asparagus, which also possesses anti-inflammatory properties, may help to relieve the pain and ease the overall poor functioning in the body associated with arthritis
12. Can Improve digestive health:
Studies suggest that a diet high in fiber-rich fruits and vegetables may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Asparagus is particularly high in insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and supports regular bowel movements.
13. Treats Urinary Tract Infections:
Research studies show that asparagus racemosus possess an anti-urolithiatic effect, which helps to treat urinary tract infections. Due to the vegetable’s diuretic properties, the consumption of asparagus increases the frequency and volume of urination. This helps to detoxify and flush the toxic waste out of the body. According to research, the anti-urolithiatic effect can be attributed to the presence of antioxidants and essential vitamins C and E.
It also contains a small amount of soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract.
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