I love asparagus. And, knowing the health benefits of asparagus makes it even more appealing! Who would have ever thought that those tiny trees could be so good for you! Here are 10 benefits to get you started.
Before I go into more detail about the health benefits of asparagus, I want to encourage you to try growing your own. Yes. It is true. Asparagus is easy to grow but it does take prep work.
It is hard to believe that was back in 2012! We have been enjoying asparagus ever since.
We have a purple variety and a green variety and while both are delicious, the purple is our favorite. It ready to harvest earlier and is more hardy in our west Texas wind.
Q: Do you know what happens when you eat asparagus? No, it is not a trick question but if you have eaten it you may know the answer.
A: Your pee/urine/potty (whatever your name for it is) smells!
Why: Asparagus contains asparagusic acid which is only found in asparagus. When digested, this acid is broken down into sulfur-containing compounds. Think garlic, rotten eggs, skunk spray. THAT is what makes your pee smell after eating asparagus.
Turns out though, some people are not able to smell it! How cool is that?
So, if you don’t think your pee smells after eating asparagus, you might be one that cannot detect the smell. OR, your body is able to digest so as to decrease the concentration of these chemicals in your urine. Researchers are not sure which is correct.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
Asparagus is a powerhouse of nutrition and packs a great punch! Filled with vitamins, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties it is well worth adding to your diet.
1. Filled with Antioxidants
Asparagus, and especially purple asparagus, is full of anthocyanins which give fruits and veggies their red, blue, and purple colors. These in particular have antioxidant effects that could help your body fight damaging free radicals.
Another antioxidant glutathione is thought to slow the aging process. It can also help to protect your skin from sun damage and pollution. Think anti-wrinkle treatment ladies!!!
2. A Great Source of Anti-inflammatory Properties
Asparagus is also packed with anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the occurrence of chronic diseases, cancer, arthritis…
3. A Natural Diuretic
Asparagus contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, making it a natural diuretic. This means that eating asparagus can help get rid of extra fluid in your body.
This is good news because it can also help prevent urinary tract infections. A major cause of UTI in women is the lack of urination.
Asparagus can be used to increase urine output. This is helpful in those with edema (too much fluid causing swelling), UTI, and high blood pressure.
4. Helpful in Promoting Digestive Health and is a good Prebiotic
Thanks to its insoluble fiber, asparagus is great for encouraging healthy digestion and decreasing bloating. Asparagus contains significant amounts of the nutrient inulin, which is not broken down in the stomach but passes through to the intestines where it provides nutrients for the good bacteria responsible for healthy digestion.
5. Good Source of Fiber
Dietary fiber appears to significantly lower the risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increasing fiber intake helps lower blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels according to the NCBI.
6. Good for Weight Loss
Because one cup of asparagus is low in fat, has about 20 calories, 2 gms of protein and is high in fiber, it is an excellent choice for those trying to lose weight. The high fiber content gives the feeling of fullness and may help you lose weight.
7. High In Vitamin K
Vitamin K is normally thought of as blood clotting vitamin but did you know that studies show it is also important for bone density? According to NCBI, vitamin K can actually increase bone mineral density (by increasing the calcium absorption) in osteoporotic people, as well as, reduce fracture rates.
8. Important in Promoting a Safe and Healthy Pregnancy
Asparagus has a significant amount of folate (a B vitamin). Folate is naturally occurring in foods and is important for women who are or who are looking to become pregnant.
You may also be familiar with folic acid which is the synthetically made version. Controversy abounds as to the benefits of the two but I prefer, whenever possible, to get my nutrients naturally.
According to the NCBI, folate can decrease the risk of neural-tube defects in the unborn. It also works with vitamin B12 and C to help the body break down, use and create new proteins. Folate also helps form red blood cells.
9. Can Improve Mood and Energy Levels
The nutritional punch found in asparagus can help with mood, energy and focus thanks to:
- Folate – Asparagus is full of folate which is a B vitamin that can help lift your spirits and decrease the feelings of irritability. Taking low levels of folate along with vitamin B12 can help patients suffering from depression.
- Tryptophan – Asparagus also contains significant levels of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is also thought to improve mood.
- Thiamine – Thiamine specifically helps the body convert carbohydrates to energy – this is important for metabolism, focus and strength.
- Vitamin B – Vitamin B is commonly associated with energy. It can help improve your energy level, as well. as help you overcome fatigue, exhaustion and depression. Vitamin B is important in supporting the thyroid function which also helps your energy level.
10. A Good Source of Glutathione
Glutathione is a detoxifying compound which helps clean our bodies and may even destroy carcinogens. It also helps support our immune system which in turn helps make us healthier, stronger and able to fight infections and diseases.
With these health benefits of asparagus in mind, it is time to include asparagus in your meal planning!
These are just 10 health benefits of asparagus and I am sure there are probably many more. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of the health benefits of asparagus but, just to get you thinking about this nutritionally packed veggie.
If you are looking for a delicious recipe that uses asparagus, try Oven Roasted Parmesan Asparagus.