What is asparagus and when is it in season?
Asparagus is a spear-like vegetable that is a member of the lily family. It’s typically in season in the UK from April until June, traditionally starting 23 April (St George’s Day) and ending on the summer solstice in June. The majority of asparagus is green in colour, but you can also get white and purple varieties too.
Nutritional benefits of asparagus
Asparagus is packed full of goodness including vitamin A, an essential nutrient that helps to protect our eyes, skin and immune system, plus vitamin C which helps to strengthen our capillaries and is involved in collagen formation. Asparagus is also a good source of vitamin K, used in bone formation and blood clotting, and may reduce the risk of diabetes.
Asparagus also contains folic acid, important for making blood cells. Folic acid is also an essential nutrient during pregnancy as it is needed for foetal development. Just 150g of asparagus will provide the total recommended daily intake of folic acid for most adults (200mcg). The NHS recommends that pregnant women get 400mcg folic acid a day.
Asparagus has long been known for its diuretic properties. It also has anti-inflammatory effects, so may relieve inflammatory conditions.
How much asparagus counts towards my five-a-day?
What about other health claims surrounding asparagus?
There is some evidence that asparagus may help ease some of the symptoms of a hangover due to the vegetable’s fibre and flavonoid (plant compounds) content. The research even suggests that asparagus may help reduce damage to the liver caused by alcohol, although further research is needed.
Can asparagus be beneficial for the digestive system?
Encouragingly, research has shown that cooked asparagus may be useful in gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcerative colitis as it helps to regulate the digestive system, thereby reducing inflammation and promoting repair. Asparagus is one of a variety of vegetables that can act as a prebiotic, boosting the good bacteria in the digestive system.
How do you cook with asparagus?
Healthy asparagus recipe ideas…
Creamy chicken & asparagus braise
Lemony tuna & asparagus salad box
Healthy pasta primavera
Pea & broad bean shakshuka
Asparagus salad with a runny poached egg
Warm salad of asparagus, bacon, duck eggs & hazelnuts
This article was last reviewed on 8th August 2018.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
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