Asparagus is a delicious vegetable and is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. It's packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and more! Read all about this versatile spring vegetable.
Asparagus is one of the first vegetables to appear at the market signaling the start of spring. In the past, it was traditionally considered a delicacy, a food for the elite. It’s also been heralded for centuries for its nutritional and medicinal properties. It turns out that this spear-shaped vegetable is not only delicious and easy to prepare, it’s also packed with health benefits!
Is asparagus good for you?
Yes! Asparagus is one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. Here are a few reasons why:
- It’s packed with a multitude of vitamins and minerals like Vitamins A, C, E, K, and B complex vitamins, especially folate. Folate is necessary for cell metabolism, DNA synthesis, and the production of red blood cells to name a few things. It’s also especially important in pregnant women to ensure proper fetal development.
- It’s high in fiber and protein. A diet high in fiber has several health benefits including helping to reduce cholesterol levels, regulate blood pressure and promote heart health. Fiber also helps to regulate blood sugar levels and plays an important role in maintaining bowel integrity and regularity.
- Asparagus is a rich source of several antioxidants including glutathione. Antioxidants help neutralize damage from free radicals, which cause damage to cells and thus may help prevent the progression of chronic diseases.
- It is high in several minerals including potassium, iron, phosphorus, copper and manganese.
- It is low in sodium and contains high levels of an amino acid called asparagine, which is a good natural diuretic. Thus asparagus helps rid the body of excess fluid, which can be especially beneficial in people with high blood pressure or other cardiac conditions.
Tips for buying asparagus
Although asparagus is best in spring, you can find it year-round in grocery stores. It comes in several different varieties including green, white and purple. Green is the most common variety. White asparagus is grown without sunlight, thus it produces no chlorophyll and does not develop a green color. It has a slightly milder flavor but all varieties can be used interchangeably in recipes.
Asparagus is sold in thick spears and also in thin spears. Sometimes the thin spears are marketed as being more tender but in reality, the thicker spears are often slightly more tender.
The best bet would be to choose the type of asparagus based on how you're going to cook it. Choose thicker stalks if you're broiling or roasting because they will stand up better to the intense heat without shriveling up. Thicker spears are also easier to maneuver on a grill. Choose thinner spears for quick-cooking dishes like skillet dishes and stir fries.
Whether you choose thick or thin asparagus, choose spears that are smooth and firm with compact tips. Asparagus should be rich green in color, fading to white at the bottom of the stalk. If it's dull in color, it may be past its prime.
To store asparagus, you can wrap the stems in a damp cloth and keep it in the refrigerator. To keep asparagus as fresh as possible, don't wash it until you're ready to cook it. Asparagus loses its flavor rapidly so you should try to eat it soon after buying it.
How to cook asparagus
Asparagus can be cooked in a number of different ways. You can roast it, grill it, sauté it, steam it or air fry it. You can even shave it and eat it raw. Avoid boiling asparagus it as it will lose many of its nutrients.
Trim the hard ends before cooking asparagus. Asparagus has a built-in natural breaking point. Just hold a spear up, bend it with your hands, and it will break where you need it to. You may need to peel thick stalks with a vegetable peeler if they are particularly tough.
Whatever cooking method you choose, try to avoid overcooking asparagus. It should have a tender but firm texture. You can season it simply with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also add a bit of lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, balsamic vinegar or grated parmesan cheese for a pop of flavor. Looking for some inspiration to get started? Check out some of my asparagus recipes below.
Tasty Asparagus Recipes
Looking for some asparagus recipes to try out? Get started with these:
- Roasted Asparagus and Grape Tomatoes
- Spring Vegetable Spaghetti Carbonara
- Lemon Risotto with Peas and Asparagus
- Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus
- Sheet Pan Sweet Chili Salmon and Veggies
- Green Spring Vegetable Soup