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Asparagus is a tender shoot vegetable that comes out from the roots. The vegetable has got a good flavor that makes most of the delicacies stand apart. Asparagus was commonly used by the Romans and Greeks. It is an oldest recorded vegetable and has its origin from the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. It is a healthy and nutritional vegetable that provides all the vital nutrients which are essential for your body.
It belongs to the Asparagaceae family and is related to the plants that come under Liliaceae such as onions, tulip, garlic and daffodil. It is also known as the spear vegetable, and is commercially grown in Europe, China, Europe, Peru, the USA and Australia.
It is planted during the beginning of the spring season. It can grow taller with branches, holding fern like top part that resemble a cluster of needles. It is directly transplanted for getting new shoots or can be seeded. A mature asparagus plant can reach up to 5 feet in height. It is harvested by snapping the bottom part or by cutting with the help of a knife to the ground level. Cut the shoots right above the ground.
Health benefits of asparagus
- With asparagus vegetable, you will be guaranteed by consuming a low calorie vegetable that is good for your health and overall wellness. Around 100 grams of the vegetable contains 20 calories.
- Asparagus spears contain a good amount of dietary fiber which is very essential for our body. With the right amount of dietary fiber, you will be relieved of conditions like constipation. The fiber in food helps in decreasing bad cholesterol or LDL, as it binds them to themselves inside the intestine, thus regulating the blood sugar level. When we consume a high fiber diet on a daily basis, we can cut down the chances of getting colon and rectal cancers. The toxic compounds from food are not absorbed into the body as a result.
- Folates is found in large numbers in asparagus. The DNA synthesis of the cells needs the presence of folates. With the right amount of folates in the diet the essential ingredients for smoothening the metabolic function will become easier.
- The shoots of asparagus are used as a main ingredient in some of the traditional medicines that help with irritable bowel syndrome as well as dropsy.
- Asparagus shoots are rich in B-complex vitamins like vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin and pantothenic acid.
- Vitamin c, vitamin E as well as Vitamin a is found in fresh asparagus. With the regular consumption of foods that are rich in these vitamins help in providing resistance to the body against most of the harmful free radicals and even infectious agents from the body.
- Asparagus shoots contain vitamin K in abundance. Since Vitamin K is very essential for bone health, consuming foods with vitamin K is very essential. It also helps to decrease the neuronal damage of the brain, hence is good for aged people.
- Other than all these, asparagus contains minerals such as iron and copper. It also contains potassium, phosphorus and manganese too. These help in overall body’s wellbeing.
Selecting and storing the shoots
We do find asparagus in markets almost all round the year. But it can be seen that they are best and tasty during the spring time. The shoots should be used right after harvest. Keeping it for a long time will make it lose its sweetness as the sugar content in it turns into starch. It would be good to get fresh ones right from local farms rather than purchasing from large supermarkets.
Choose tender ones that are a bit firm and straight. The stalks should be tight and closed. Do not pick those with thick stalks or broad stems. Normally it is picked during morning hours. Too much of heat and temperature will make it lose its sugar and vitamin c. This will make them tougher and lose their flavor. Moreover, it decays fast too, as a result.
Preparing and serving asparagus
Normally, asparagus is chosen by majority during the spring season. Wash in cold running water. Scrub gently while washing. Tender ones can be directly cooked. If the stalks are thick, try peeling the skin as it might be a bit thick.
The shoots of asparagus can be enjoyed raw, or sautéed or stir fried manner. It can also be mixed with vegetables, chicken or with fish. Grilled asparagus is a real mouth watering starter.
Asparagus does not give any kind of allergic reactions to the body and hence it is safe for anyone to consume on a daily basis. Include asparagus in your day to day diet and experience a whole lot of health and vitality that you have never experienced before.