Health benefits

According to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index score, asparagus ranks among the top 20 most nutritious foods. The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index measures vitamin, mineral, flavonoid and phytonutrient content in relation to the caloric content. A high-ranking food provides more concentrated nutrients for a small amount of calories.

Many studies have suggested that increased consumption of vegetables including asparagus can decrease risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality.

Asparagus is one of the best natural sources of folate. According to the CDC, folate intake decreases the risk of birth defects and neural tube defects.

It also can help ward off depression by preventing an excess production of homocysteine from forming in the body, which can block blood from reaching the brain. Homocysteine also can increase chances of coronary artery disease (heart attacks or strokes).

Asparagus contains the following nutrients: Vitamin A, C, E, K, folate, niacin, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and copper.

History

The name “asparagus” comes from the Greek language and means “sprout” or “shoot.” Asparagus is part of the lily family, as are onions, garlic, leeks, turnips and gladioli. Asparagus is a perennial plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas where cultivation began around 2,000 years ago by the Romans.

Historically, Greeks, Romans, kings and emperors enjoyed the tender, succulent, edible shoots. King Louis XIV of France so liked this food delicacy he ordered special greenhouses built so he could enjoy asparagus all year-round.

Asparagus is widely cultivated by many different cultures and countries around the world now. Where asparagus was once considered a delicacy and “Food of King,” today we are able to find asparagus year round in our grocery stores; fresh, canned or frozen.

What’s that smell?

Many people wonder why their urine smells after eating asparagus. The compound asparagusic acid is the culprit. The compound responsible for this unique smell is a sulfur-containing substance found exclusively in asparagus. The “boiling point” of asparagusic acid is low enough it vaporizes to a gaseous form at room temperature and therefore allows the aroma to be airborne after urination.

Asparagus avocado medley Evonne style

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1.5- inch pieces

2 tablespoons water

8 fresh mushrooms, slice

1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

1 zucchini, diced

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

1 red onion, sliced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried thyme

¼ tsp salt

Lemon/garlic grilled asparagus

1 pound asparagus

3 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Trim asparagus by snapping ends. In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic, zest and paprika. Stir with a fork. Lay asparagus side by side on a flat top or your grill grates (opposite direction). Brush with oil mixture. Cook to desired tenderness (approximately 8 minutes). Season with black pepper.