Asparagus is a source of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals, harmful to the body as they alter genes, proteins, and fats. Canned foods are high in sodium and are recommended for people with hypertension.
Asparagus is the tender and young stem obtained from the asparagus plant. It is a plant that belongs to the Liliaceae, like garlic and onions. Its origin is the Mediterranean, both Greeks and Egyptians already consumed it 7,000 years ago, but the Romans brought it to Spain. Very characteristic mild flavor, with a size between 20-40 cm long, with a greater or lesser thickness, and with two main varieties, white and green asparagus.
- Green asparagus or wild asparagus: grows outdoors, in contact with sunlight, like any other plant, it absorbs light and gives it its characteristic green color. Until the end of the 19th century, this was the asparagus that was consumed.
- White asparagus: it grows underground, and hence it is color. By not giving it sunlight, chlorophyll does not act and loses its characteristic green color. Its cultivation began at the end of the 19th century.
Green asparagus stand out, like all vegetables, for their high water content, although they provide the most protein and are rich in fiber.
- Antioxidant vitamins C, E, and provitamin A, in addition to folates.
- Vitamins group B.
- Magnesium and phosphorus in small amounts
It has asparagine, a substance responsible for its characteristic flavor.
White asparagus are similar in composition, although with fewer vitamins than green ones, especially in vitamin C and folates.
Canned asparagus also contains fewer minerals due to the blanching they receive in their processing, except for sodium, which is added as a preservative.
Asparagus contains mainly insoluble fiber (cellulose). Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool and helps food pass through the digestive tract faster.
This mineral is essential for the transmission and generation of nerve impulses. It participates in muscle contraction and the water balance, both inside and outside the cell. One of the consequences of electrolyte loss due to dehydration can be to suffer cramps, so a diet rich in foods rich in potassium can prevent them.
The main function of phosphorus is the participation of bones and teeth. It participates in the metabolism of lipids and carbohydrates and helps in the formation, conservation, and protein repair of tissues and cells. Participates in ATP production (a molecule that helps store energy) in kidney function, muscle contraction, nerve impulse …
Vitamin A is necessary for the proper functioning of the retina, for healthy skin and mucous membranes. In addition, it participates in the formation and maintenance of teeth, soft tissue, and bone. Vitamin A is found in two ways in food:
- Retinol: is the active form of vitamin A. It is present in foods of animal origin, such as cod liver or whole milk.
- Carotenoids are dark-colored pigments found in foods of plant origin, and once ingested, the body can transform them into their active form of vitamin A. The most abundant carotene in carrots is beta-carotene.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body, stimulates the immune system against bacteria or viruses, it helps to dilate blood vessels and prevent clot formation, besides participating in cellular function.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals produced in the body for various reasons, harmful to the body. In addition, it is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues, forming proteins that make up the skin, tendons, ligaments … It helps in the healing of wounds and participates in the absorption of iron.
Another inconsiderable vitamin in green asparagus is folates, also called folic acid or vitamin B9. It intervenes in the production of red blood cells, the development of the nervous system, participates in the synthesis of genetic material, and the formation of antibodies. In addition, it is very important when it comes to preventing anemia and spina bifida in pregnancy.
- Weight reduction and maintenance. Thanks to its low caloric content, they make it ideal for low-calorie and weight maintenance diets. In addition, its fiber content provides satiety.
- Disease prevention. Like many other vegetables, it is a great source of antioxidants; antioxidants help fight free radicals produced in the body for different reasons, harmful to the body as they alter the DNA of genes, proteins, and fats. Low levels of antioxidants are precursors of some diseases such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases.
- Diuretic. Asparagus is very rich in potassium and low in sodium (except canned asparagus), which favors eliminating fluids in the body. For this reason, it is beneficial in case of hypertension, kidney stones, or fluid retention.
- Pregnancy. Its folic acid content makes it a very suitable food for pregnant women, as it helps prevent, among other things, spina bifida.
- Constipation. Foods rich in fiber promote intestinal transit and related diseases, such as hiatal hernia, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, and even some cancer of the large intestine.
When To Avoid Them?
In case of hyperuricemia, gout, and kidney stones due to uric acid salts, they should avoid foods rich in purines, and asparagus is one of them since the body transforms these purines into uric acid.
How To Choose And Keep Them
Depending on the type of asparagus you want to consume, we will look at one of the other characteristics.
We must choose those straight and firm, without color changes and with closed and compact gems. It is advisable to discard those with bumps or spots. Once at home, we must keep them wrapped in a damp cloth, keeping them in the fridge for up to three weeks. If they are left in the plastic bag, they only last two or three days. To enjoy its flavor and properties, the most recommended is to consume it as soon as possible from its purchase.
We must look at its different classification according to its diameter:
- Extra thick: its thickness varies between 14-19 millimeters.
- Thick: its thickness varies between 11-14 millimeters.
- Medium: its thickness varies between 9-11 millimeters.
- Thin: its thickness is less than 9 millimeters.
In addition to thickness, they can be classified as Extra, First, and Second categories according to their uniformity, color, and opacity. Its thickness varies between 11-14 millimeters.
According to the expiration date, they are kept in a cool and dark pantry and can last for years (according to the expiration date).
When To Eat Them?
The best time to eat asparagus is in spring. From November to May we find them in the market, although without a doubt the months of April and May are their best time. Grilled, sautéed, in rice dishes, accompanied by meat or fish … its culinary applications are many. White asparagus can be eaten throughout the year, as it is grown in greenhouses. Canned asparagus is another way to consume this rich product, widely consumed worldwide.
What You Should Know…
- The best time to eat asparagus is spring; it has its best flavor and most properties in April and May.
- Asparagus is a source of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals, which are harmful to the body as they alter genes, proteins, and fats.
- Canned asparagus has a high sodium content since it is used as a preservative. Therefore it is not recommended in people with hypertension.