A for Asparagus

I thought today, as we are currently in spring (apparently!), it would be good to look at some of the benefits of one of the delicious seasonal vegetables that will be available in the next few months. The Asparagus plant has spear like shoots with a tight bud at the top. It is normally green or purple in colour, but can also be found in white, which has been grown underground to gain a more delicate flavour. Asparagus is best eaten when the shots are young as the stems are tender and less woody.
Asparagus is a great source of fibre and for a vegetable is relatively rich in protein. Eating asparagus will supply you with a wide range of vitamins including; C, A, K and many of the B vitamins, especially B6. It is also a great source of potassium.
With regards to further health benefits, asparagus is well noted for its diuretic effects. As a side note, it is quite common, in over 50% of the population for there to be a distinct odour to urine almost immediately asparagus has been consumed. This strong sulphuric like smell is nothing to be alarmed by, but is associated with the broken down protein (amino acid) asparagine.
Consuming asparagus has also been shown to benefit suffered of arthritis, as its antioxidants may help to reduce inflammation.

Image courtesy of James Barker – freedigitalphotos.net

Asparagus can be eaten raw if very young and tender, or it can be used in stir-frys, or my favourite simply steamed for a few minutes until tender, then served immediately with some black pepper, garlic and olive oil. Once steamed spears can also be plunged into cold water to cool, then served in a salad.

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