Summer Vegetables: Asparagus

Asparagus, comes in three main types green, white and purple. Not only does it taste delicious, but is a wonderful source of a multitude of nutrients for a healthy body and mind. This super food contains many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients.

Asparagus is a good source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. Along with the antioxidants vitamin C, beta-carotene, zinc, manganese and selenium, the glutathione in asparagus fights against free radicals that cause cell aging and mutation. With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, asparagus is a robust fighter against bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate, ovarian and other cancers.

Asparagus is loaded with vitamin C, which is known to contribute to lower blood pressure, healthy immune system, and resistance to age-related ocular diseases, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

Folic acid, a B vitamin, is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and is found in abundance in asparagus. Folic acid is important for the proper transcription and copying of DNA. It is also essential for proper cellular division. Furthermore, folic acid plays an important role in regulating homocysteine, a critical factor in heart disease. Healthy servings of asparagus can prevent a folate-deficiency, which has been linked to birth defects such as spina bifida. Folic acid also works in conjunction with vitamin B12 to prevent cognitive decline.

Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones. Vitamin K prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Asparagus also contains the amino acid asparagine. Asparagine is an effective diuretic and has been historically used to treat swelling, arthritis, rheumatism, and PMS-related water retention. Asparagus can also aid your digestion. The carbohydrate inulin found in asparagus helps encourage the growth of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, good bacteria that help to lower the risk of colon cancer and prevent bad bacteria from inhabiting our GI tract.

The healthy fiber and protein content of asparagus stabilizes our digestion, curbs overeating, maintains a low blood sugar and prevents constipation.

Due to the natural purine content of asparagus, excessive intake of this vegetable may cause and aggravate certain uric acid related problems including gout and kidney stones.

One cup of asparagus contains only 27 calories and 3 grams of dietary fiber.

Whether you boil, steam, bake or roast asparagus, it is sure to be a delicious accompaniment to main entrée. Just be sure to snap the ends of the woody stocks thus removing the bottom third of the asparagus.

The information above is intended for informational purposes only. Always consult with your health care provider if this is suitable for you.

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Alene Falomo