7 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Asparagus
Asparagus, officially known as Asparagus officinalis, is a member of the lily family.
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.
Asparagus is also low in calories and packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
This article uncovers 7 health benefits of asparagus, all supported by science.
Asparagus is low in calories but boasts an impressive nutrient profile.
In fact, just half a cup (90 grams) of cooked asparagus contains (1):
- Calories: 20
- Protein: 2.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 1.8 grams
- Vitamin C: 12% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 57% of the RDI
- Folate: 34% of the RDI
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Phosphorous: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 7% of the RDI
Asparagus also possesses small amounts of other micronutrients, including iron, zinc and riboflavin.
In addition, asparagus is high in folate, a nutrient that is vital for a healthy pregnancy and many important processes in the body, including cell growth and DNA formation
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.
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 (10Trusted Source, 11, 12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).
What’s more, purple asparagus contains powerful pigments called anthocyanins, which give the vegetable its vibrant color and have antioxidant effects in the body (14Trusted Source).
Eating asparagus along with other fruits and vegetables can provide your body with a range of antioxidants to promote good health.
Dietary fiber is essential for good digestive health.
Just half a cup of asparagus contains 1.8 grams of fiber, which is 7% of your daily needs.
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 (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
Asparagus is particularly high in insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and supports regular bowel movements.
It also contains a small amount of soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract.
Soluble fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus (21Trusted Source).
Increasing the number of these beneficial bacteria plays a role in strengthening the immune system and producing essential nutrients like vitamins B12 and K2 (22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Eating asparagus as part of a fiber-rich diet is an excellent way to help meet your fiber needs and keep your digestive system healthy.
Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, also known as vitamin B9.
Just half a cup of asparagus provides adults with 34% of their daily folate needs and pregnant women with 22% of their daily needs (1).
Folate is an essential nutrient that helps form red blood cells and produce DNA for healthy growth and development. It’s especially important during the early stages of pregnancy to ensure the healthy development of the baby.
In fact, adequate folate is so vital during pre-pregnancy and early pregnancy that folate supplements are recommended to ensure women meet their requirements.
High blood pressure affects more than 1.3 billion people worldwide and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke (29Trusted Source).
Asparagus is a good source of potassium, providing 6% of your daily requirement in a half-cup serving.
What’s more, research in rats with high blood pressure suggests that asparagus may have other blood pressure-lowering properties. In one study, rats were fed either a diet with 5% asparagus or a standard diet without asparagus.
After 10 weeks, the rats on the asparagus diet had 17% lower blood pressure than the rats on the standard diet (33Trusted Source).
Researchers believed this effect was due to an active compound in asparagus that causes blood vessels to dilate.
However, human studies are needed to determine whether this active compound has the same effect in humans.
In any case, eating more potassium-rich vegetables, such as asparagus, is a great way to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Currently, no studies have tested the effects of asparagus on weight loss.
However, it has a number of properties that could potentially help you lose weight.
First, it’s very low in calories, with only 20 calories in half a cup. This means you can eat a lot of asparagus without taking in a lot of calories.
Asparagus is also rich in fiber, which has been linked to lower body weight and weight loss
In addition to being nutritious, asparagus is delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet.
It can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, grilling, steaming, roasting and sautéing. You can also purchase canned asparagus, which is precooked and ready to eat.
Furthermore, it’s extremely affordable and widely available at most grocery stores.
When shopping for fresh asparagus, look for firm stems and tight, closed tips.