Asparagus- Spears To You!
When the local crop of asparagus begins to arrive, you know spring is here! In California, starting in February, the first crops are picked, with peak season running April through May.
Asparagus is at its best when babied a little. Being more perishable than other vegetables, it is more likely to wrinkle and harden when stored too long and in improper conditions. If you wrap the ends in damp paper or cloth towel, and consume within 48 hours, you will be savoring these spears in peak for and nutrition.
Speaking of nutrition: boy do they pack a punch! Asparagus is one of the highest sources of the phytonutrient saponins – loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Saponins also have shown beneficial for blood pressure, blood sugar regulation and controlling blood fat levels.
Shall I continue? In the vitamin/mineral world, asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, B vitamins, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, zinc, manganese, and selenium. Lastly, a cup has 3 grams of fiber and only 40 calories – talk about a lot of bang for your buck!
The really cool thing about asparagus is how it supports the digestive tract. Unlike most other vegetables, asparagus contains inulin, which doesn’t break down until it reaches the large intestine. Here, it really does its magic by providing a food source for healthy gut bacteria (aka probiotics) like lactobacillus. By nurturing probiotics, these digestive wonders can multiply and help the gut absorb nutrients as well as lower the risk of some allergies and colon cancer.
In terms of flavor, the fatter stalks are actually more tender than the thin ones. So enjoy these tasty spears to your heart’s content!
Sharon Stewart is our latest and greatest Tips for Healthy Living writer. Sharon Stewart is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). She offers personalized, one-on-one nutrition counseling in the Palo Alto area. She specializes in clients with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and gastrointestinal disorders as well as nutrition check-ups for general well-being. She also works for Plus Health Management, providing nutrition counseling to the employees on the Facebook campus in Menlo Park. Feel free to contact her over at Sharon Stewart, R.D. Nutrition Consulting.