Asparagus tends to be forgotten about when it comes to looking for healthy and nutritious foods. It’s a shame because it is packed with vitamins and minerals that can be sometimes difficult to get hold of. It’s also one of the most widely available and easiest to use vegetables.
But just how can you benefit? What’s the science behind all the nutrients and the way that the asparagus will help your overall health?
When it comes to the benefits, they are all gained when you include the food as part of a regular diet. There’s no point in just eating asparagus all day every day.
Here’s a look at everything that you need to know about asparagus and using it to improve your life. There are 10 health benefits that you will gain, but we’ll also look at some cautionary steps that you will need to take. Like with anything, there are some side effects to eating asparagus.
Let’s start with the nutritional makeup of asparagus to help us understand the health benefits.
Nutritional Makeup of a Cup of Asparagus
One cup of asparagus is all you will need in a serving. You’ll eat just 40 calories with this one cup, and the glycaemic index is extremely low.
When it comes to nutrients, you’ll get 101% of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin K. This is the most of this nutrient you’ll get from a serving of one vegetable and plays a major role in the health benefits.
You’ll also get 67% of your folate levels from one service, with 33% of your recommended allowance of copper. Minerals of selenium, manganese, and potassium are also available in amounts of 20%, 14%, and 12% respectively. There are also excellent levels of various B vitamins, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Asparagus is one of those vegetables that is full of necessary minerals, including zinc, choline, and phosphorus in small amounts.
Fibre and protein are two food groups also in good amounts. You’ll get 14% and 9% of the two food groups respectively of your recommended daily amounts. These are important food groups to get when it comes to weight loss and mental health benefits.
So, now that you know all this, it’s time to get into the 10 amazing health benefits of adding asparagus to your diet.
Let’s Start with the Weight Loss Benefits
Many people look at different vegetables to eat when they want to lose weight. It’s important to get plenty to eat without consuming many calories because there is the need to feel full and satisfied.
Too many people try to lose weight by eating as little as possible. They want to keep the calorie intake as low as possible. However, this can leave us unsatisfied and craving sweet, high-calorie food. We want to get hold of anything that will help us feel that satisfaction, but because we’ve said no so much, we end up binging on the bad stuff.
When we feel satisfied from our meals, we’re less likely to binge. There’s not that feeling of constantly being on a diet. A major benefit of asparagus is that it has a very small number of calories. One cup is just 40 calories, which is way less than most meats and all the junk food that you eat. It’s less than some of the more commonly eaten fruits and vegetables.
Of course, the calorie intake isn’t the only major benefit. You’re getting plenty of protein and fibre when you eat this green vegetable. Both are excellent for making you feel satisfied throughout the day. The two of these food groups break down in the body slowly, helping to keep you feeling full throughout the day.
We’ve already said how you’re less likely to binge when you feel satisfied. You’re also less likely to feel like you’re on a diet. You’re focusing on a healthier diet, and being satisfied makes it easier to stick to.
Of course, eating asparagus isn’t the only way to help you with your weight loss efforts. You will also need to stick to an overall healthy and balanced diet. Part of being satisfied is enjoying the food that you’re eating. The odd bit of junk food or chocolate treat isn’t going to do you that much bad. In fact, it can make it easier to stick to the diet in the long term. By asparagus being low in calories, you have extra calories available to enjoy some of your sweet treats.
You’ll also need to make sure you drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and make sure all the toxins are flushed out of your body. It’s also important to follow a good exercise routine to help with the burning of more calories.
Include the asparagus in a healthy and balanced diet. Just focusing on this one ingredient will lead to boredom. Despite how good it is for you, if you end up bored you will end up falling off the diet wagon. You’ll start craving more of the foods that you’re banning. Even if you succeed, you won’t have taught yourself about healthy eating. When you go back to your regular diet, you’ll gain all the weight and more back because you haven’t made any changes to your overall calorie intake.
Reduce the Inflammation in Your Body
Inflammation is a major problem for the body when it happens at the wrong time. The body naturally inflames when it needs to heal and is fighting against infections or diseases. One of the big problems is that the body gets confused. It thinks that there is something to fight against when really there isn’t anything there. This is very common with food or due to pollutants in the air.
You’re left with the inflammation putting extra pressure on your nerves. Chronic pain and chronic illnesses are extremely common because of the inflammation, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, and more. There’s often no warning for the pain and discomfort that you feel, so you can’t plan around the problems. Chronic fatigue is also sometimes an issue, as the brain and body aren’t getting enough oxygenated blood needed.
But just how can asparagus help you? Well, there are anti-inflammatory properties through the saponins in the vegetable. You’ll get the likes of asparanin and diosgenin naturally, which help to encourage the inflammation to go down and stop the body fighting against something that isn’t there.
You would usually take the likes of aspirin to get this benefit, but there’s no need to put extra chemicals in your body. It’s healthy to eat asparagus and other anti-inflammatory foods to help keep the inflammation to a minimum throughout the day, too.
Asparagus has been used in research for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, this condition isn’t yet confirmed as an autoimmune disease, and there are no known treatments. However, inflammation is a major issue with it, putting pressure on the nerves to cause the cells to die. Research is showing that the saponins can help to reduce this type of inflammation and the death of the cells, helping to slow down the progression of ALS.
There are other anti-inflammatory properties within the vegetable, including flavonoids. These don’t just help to keep the nerves protected and healthy but offer other health benefits that we will go into soon.
There’s no need to change the diet completely, but having one that includes more foods that naturally help to reduce inflammation is beneficial. This is especially important if you follow an overall healthy diet to reduce the amount of bad for the system to start fighting against. You will also need to consider food intolerances and allergies to keep the inflammation to a minimum.
Boost the Immune System in Other Ways
You’re not just helping to prevent the natural immune system responses. While asparagus can help to reduce inflammation, it can also help to support the immune system using antioxidants. The next time that you are ill, the immune system can act quicker, so you’re able to fight off anything and everything that you’ve got.
If you have an auto immune system, getting more antioxidants will be good for you. When your body is already fighting off an infection, more antioxidants can help to reduce the chances of other infections or viruses causing a problem.
The most important antioxidant in asparagus in vitamin C. This is a vitamin that can’t be created or stored, so your body is relying on you to get it into your system somehow. The levels of vitamin C are high, so you’re getting a good 20+ percent of your recommended daily amount just by eating a cup of asparagus every day.
You’ll also get more beta-carotene, and vitamin E. Let’s not forget about the selenium, manganese, and zinc. These are antioxidants to help boost the immune system’s function. They also help to keep the number of free radicals in the body to a minimum.
There’s no point completely getting rid of free radicals in the body. In small amounts they do help to get rid of the bad bacteria in the gut and can help to reduce the chances of inflammation and infection. However, too many free radicals are dangerous. When you get a lot, they start to attack the cells. Damaged cells will find it harder to repair properly, and there is a risk of developing abnormal cells. You’re opening the door to cancerous cells instead.
The antioxidants also help to keep oxidative stress to a minimum. This is another risk factor for some types of cancer.
There is still more research needed into how antioxidants can help to reduce the risk of cancer. More research is also needed to discover if we benefit from the reduced risk of certain types of cancers more than others. What we do know right now is that there are positive signs, so eating more asparagus is going to do you some good.
Keep Digestive Problems to a Minimum
What if you could get rid of those digestive problems? This is something that many people dream of and will look at all sorts of foods to find the best options. Asparagus is one of the vegetables that you need to put on your list of things to eat. It doesn’t even matter what your digestive problems are, as most them are linked to problems with fibre intake and keeping the digestive system working properly.
Asparagus has a good amount of fibre, as we’ve already mentioned with the weight loss benefit. It’s not just that the fibre breaks down slowly, but that it helps to keep the digestive system in good working order. The fibre pushes through build-up of everything else, making sure it all gets to the right place.
There’s also a protective quality to fibre. It helps to line the surface of the digestive tract, helping to prevent bacteria build up within the system. Good bacteria will also help with this process.
It’s not just the fibre that helps with digestive support. Asparagus also has good levels of inulin, which is a carbohydrate. It’s commonly referred to as a prebiotic, which offers that good bacteria protective layer to the intestines. The prebiotic isn’t digested until it gets into the large intestine and helps to get rid of all the bad bacteria build up.
The bad bacterium is a common reason for cramping, stool problems, and stomach issues. By getting more good bacteria, you can also keep your allergy risks to a minimum. Some studies also show that the good bacteria can reduce the chance of developing colon cancer. It’s unknown just how beneficial it is, but there are limited side effects—none when you eat a healthy amount of it.
It’s not just modern-day science that has found the digestive benefit in eating asparagus. For centuries, it was used as an herbal remedy for digestive problems and remains to be a popular option. There must be a reason for that—and for the successful outcomes that we’ve seen over the years.
Lower Your Chances of Type II Diabetes
You may have heard that vegetables help to reduce the chances of developing Type II diabetes. There is certainly truth to some of this. Not all vegetables are food for it, but asparagus certainly is. Do you know why this is the case?
It’s all to do with the glycaemic index. This is a table to show how foods react in the body. Those that have a low GI level don’t sugar in the blood quickly. They are usually the foods that have plenty of fibre or protein but very few natural or refined sugars—yes, even food with natural sugars can be bad for you.
Food with a low GI will break down slowly. You don’t get the insulin response to tackle any glucose, which means there’s a lower risk of your body developing a reluctance to it. You end up lowering your risks of Type II diabetes.
Asparagus—as you’ve probably guessed it by now—is one of those foods that has an extremely low GI. It’s so good that it simple fuels your body with all the good.
Of course, the lack of inflammation also helps. Inflammation has been known to cause stress levels and blood sugar levels to rise. You end up with the wrong bodily responses, and you’re more likely to develop chronic health conditions. Let’s also remember that with pain, we’re more likely to reach for the bad stuff—you know, sugar stuff that initially makes us feel better but doesn’t keep that feeling for long? This stuff increases our blood sugar levels, and we’re left running the risk of Type II diabetes.
But that’s not all! Do you remember those B vitamins that I told you about right at the start in the nutritional makeup? Well, there was a reason for pointing these out to you: they help with keeping blood sugar levels to a minimum. They aid with the metabolising of sugars and even starches in the food. The more of the B vitamins you get, the better it will be for your body to get rid of the sugars and starches in your body.
Fight Off Heart Disease with the Vegetable
We also can’t forget about how great B vitamins are for the heart. There’s also the benefit of the likes of choline and niacin within the vegetable. These works together with the metabolism to make sure all the calories and bad stuff are used up in the diet. They also help with regulating homocysteine within the body.
Managing all the above will help to protect the health of the heart. High levels of homocysteine in the body will lead to bad heart health. It is an amino acid and can cause heart disease when in excessive amounts.
The benefits all go back to the fibre again. Asparagus has a good amount of soluble fibre because of the B vitamins. The soluble fibre has been proven in research to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, as well as Type II diabetes.
By eating more fibre, you’re also less likely to consume large amounts of fat. Your cholesterol levels are kept to a minimum, so you end up protecting your blood vessels. Everything works together to keep the oxidative stress to a minimum while improving your blood flow.
And then there are the anti-inflammatory benefits. Like with Type II diabetes and many other ailments, inflammation has been linked to heart disease. So, keeping your inflammation to a minimum will keep the risk of heart disease to a minimum.
This is where the vitamin K comes in. Remember that you get the full daily recommended amount of vitamin K from just one serving of asparagus. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting, keeping the level of clotting to a healthy level—after all, your blood needs to flow freely in the body but clot when there is a trauma. Keeping the clotting to a healthy level helps to reduce the chances of stroke and heart problems.
Your Cognitive Function Is Improved
Let’s also talk about brain health. This is a major organ that we tend to forget about when it comes to food, despite the brain controlling everything that we do. If we don’t look out for it, our memory, nerve function, and much more are all negatively affected.
There are a few ways that asparagus will help with the cognitive function. The first is the reduction of the inflammation. It’s not just parts of the body that inflame. Our brains do, as well. This puts pressure on the vessels, so the blood can’t flow through the brain properly. When the whole brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, parts of it starts to die off or doesn’t work as it should.
We’re at a higher risk of developing the likes of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Inflammation makes it harder for the memory sections of the brain to get the right amount of blood and the cells can start dying.
There is also a higher chance of free radicals in the brain. These cause problems with dying cells, which leads to the brain degenerating. We’re at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive problems when this happens. Research is showing that antioxidants in the likes of asparagus keep the free radicals at a minimum, so you end up benefitting from less cell damage.
The vitamin B12 is also beneficial for the brain. It helps to limit the ageing process, so your cognitive decline is slowed down. This also comes from the folate levels that are in asparagus. You’ll find that your concentration levels are improved, and you’ll have better reflexes. These benefits have been noted in studies because of the specific nutrients.
Keep Your Mood and Energy Levels Balanced
Wouldn’t you love to get food that will help with your mood and energy levels? Well, it’s time to add more asparagus into your diet, because this will do just the trick.
Fibre is the biggest reason why this happens. Remember that the fibre keeps you feeling satisfied? Well, this is important for the mood. When you get hungry, your brain starts releasing the negative chemicals. You’re likely to be more stressed, and you don’t want to focus on a healthy diet. Your energy levels will be depleted, and you just want access to absolutely anything you can get your hands on.
Of course, this leads to the problem that you gain weight. And you have an energy crash because you only get the food that will keep you going for a short period. You’re increasing your chances of developing Type II diabetes, along with so many other health problems.
Foods that are high in fibre take longer to break down. You get the longer lasting feeling of being satisfied, so you’re a happier person. Your brain releases the happy hormones and keeps your stress levels to a minimum. Of course, the slower breaking down theprocess, you also end up with more sustained energy levels throughout the day. There are few spikes and dips, so you’re less likely to binge and create the cycle mentioned above.
And let’s not forget that a lower risk of inflammation means that your blood can flow better. Your brain gets the oxygenated blood that it needs. You’ll find your concentration levels are improved, and you feel like you can do more. Your mood boost will also help with the boost of energy.
You’ll feel like you can do more exercise throughout the day. This is great because it leads to better chemical releases from the brain and you have more energy to do stuff. You’ll find yourself in a beneficial cycle.
Detoxify Your Body with the Use of Asparagus
Another great benefit of eating asparagus is for your overall body. It’s one of those vegetables that will help to detoxify your whole system. It acts as a diuretic, meaning that you will urinate more often.
While this initially sounds annoying, it’s extremely good for you. Not often urinating enough means that your kidneys will get a build-up of toxins in the body. You’ll also get a build-up of sugars, carbs, and even fats. They can end up forming stones in the kidneys, and they are extremely painful.
The asparagus will also help you remove the excess salt from your body. This is where one of the first guidelines needs to be mentioned. Your body will need some salt in the diet. If you get rid of it all, you can run the risk of some health problems. It’s important not to eat too much asparagus to keep your salt levels healthy.
Keeping the salt levels to a healthy level will help with those heart benefits, though. You’ll keep your blood pressure to a healthy level, which means you’re at a lower risk of having a heart attack.
Detoxifying the body can also help with the weight loss benefit. Toxin build-up can cause the metabolism not to work properly. Your body will start to hold onto fluid, and you’re at a higher risk of negative emotions.
If you do regularly suffer from kidney stones, you should get this condition checked out. You may be encouraged not to eat asparagus, depending on the type of kidney stones that you have. However, in most cases, asparagus is good to get into your diet.
Something to Support Your Pregnancy
For the 10th benefit, it’s time to go back to those folate levels. Pregnant women—and those who are of childbearing age—are recommended to get high levels of folate. This is especially important during the first trimester. Even if you’re not pregnant, you should consider getting more folate. This is an important nutrient for your nervous system.
When it comes to pregnancy, your baby needs folate for healthy nervous system development. Those that don’t get enough folate can develop some abnormalities and diseases. So, you want to get food that has a high amount of it. What’s better than a few servings of asparagus daily?
You’re supported in pregnancy through other ways, too. The asparagus has all that fibre, remember? When you’re growing a baby, it can be difficult to keep your digestive system working properly. Your intestines scrunch up, and your baby takes up space instead. The fibre will help with the pushing through of food and toxins to make sure everything gets in the right place.
Of course, by eating a healthier diet, you will also feel better throughout your pregnancy.
But What About the Bad?
Now that you know all about asparagus benefits, you need to be aware of some of the downsides of eating it.
As I mentioned, some medical professionals will encourage you not to eat too much asparagus if you have certain types of kidney stones. This is because the nutrients within the food can make these types of kidney stones worse.
There are some who say that a strong odour from your urine means that you should avoid asparagus. There is no evidence to support this claim. If you are worried, though, you should talk to a medical expert about the amount of asparagus you get and any medical side affects you think you may be getting.
The most important thing to do is to make sure that you are only getting health levels of asparagus in your diet. Like with anything, getting too much of something is bad for you: and that includes getting too much of a bad thing.
For example, getting too much fibre can lead to some digestive upset. Bloating, gas and stomach cramps are the most commonly associated side effects of getting too much fibre into your diet. This doesn’t just come from eating too much asparagus, but eating too many foods with high levels of fibre in them. You may find that if your diet is predominately made up of vegetables and fruits that you have this issue.
Keep a food diary to check just how much fibre you are getting. This should apply to all nutrients for good and bad needs. You’ll be able to make sure you’re getting the recommended amounts without getting too many of them.
You may also find that you have a lot of gas to pass throughout the day. It’s normal to pass gas around 14 times a day, but this can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. Asparagus has an enzyme that humans struggle to break down, meaning that we end up with digestive discomfort. The gas builds up, and we need to get it out of our bodies in some way.
If you do suffer from clotting issues or you’re on blood thinners, you will want to think carefully about the amount of asparagus that you eat. Remember that there is a large amount of vitamin K, which causes the blood to clot. In an average healthy person, getting a serving or two won’t be an issue. In someone with clotting problems, it could lead to too much clotting, and that can cause heart problems.
Can You Suffer from an Asparagus Allergy?
There are some people out there who have an allergy to the vegetable. This is very rare, but it is worth being aware of it just in case. In most cases, the allergy isn’t dangerous.
For most people, the allergy will show up right after eating it. You will likely notice hives or a rash forming on your face and maybe your hands if you touched the vegetable. There may be some swelling due to the histamines in the body. An antihistamine will usually be enough to tackle the allergy issue.
Organic or Regular Asparagus?
We’re all looking for ways to get fruit and vegetable in a healthy way. This has led to the need for organic offerings in supermarkets. Because of the high demand, non-organic options are often full of chemicals to help them grow larger and quicker. We just don’t know all the bad stuff that we’re putting into our diets.
Of course, not everyone is able to afford organic. Because not as much of it grows and it’s not as big, these vegetables are often more expensive to buy. Even if we can afford it, some resent the need to spend more money for a healthier lifestyle.
The great thing about asparagus is that it grows quickly naturally. Not as many—if any, in some cases—chemicals are added to the plants. Even if you buy non-organic, you will usually get an organic picking in your mix.
Now It’s Time to Get More Asparagus in Your Diet
Now that you know about the health benefits of asparagus, it’s time to get more of it in your diet. You can do more than just boil it and pop it as a side dish, although this is a popular option. In fact, many will have asparagus as a green bed for salmon or chicken. With the right spices or sauces, it can be an absolutely delicious way to eat it.
Another popular option is to make juice out of the vegetable. If you just juice it, you will lose the fibre, which leads to losing out on many of the health benefits mentioned above. There’s also the risk of more sugar going into your system. The main benefit is the hydration. If you wanted to get all the fibre but in drink form, you could use asparagus to make a green smoothie instead.
Chop up your asparagus and use it as a vegetable in the way that you would use many others. One of the options is to throw it into an omelette with the likes of mushrooms and onions. You’ll get many other health benefits by incorporating these healthy foods together.
You can also eat it cold and mix it in with your salads. Drizzle some olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a healthier dressing. You could also try some parmesan cheese for a little extra protein with your salad.
If you are going to cook your asparagus, baking it is one of the best options. You can wrap it in foil with some olive oil and lemon juice. Some basil or spices can help to add that little extra when the asparagus is ready to eat.
Asparagus does tend to be served more as a side dish and tends to be preferred that way. You could opt for breading it and making asparagus chips with it, which could make a delicious entrée. However, serving it on the side or as a bed with your meat will be quicker and easier.
Will You Add More Asparagus to Your Diet?
There are the 10 health benefits of asparagus that you need to be aware of. This is food that should be added to your diet on a regular basis. Don’t make it the focus of your diet, but incorporate it into your healthy and balanced one. You will be able to take advantage of the nutrients while getting all the other food groups and nutrients that you need from other food sources.
If you are worried about any health problems that you currently have, you could discuss adding the vegetable to your diet. In the majority of cases, you will be highly advised to add it in. There only a small number of patients who find that they shouldn’t have it.
Don’t worry about the strong smell of your urine after eating asparagus. This is just part of the nutrients working within your system and isn’t something that is dangerous. Those who tell you otherwise have been mistaken, as there is no scientific research to back it up.
There are many ways to incorporate it into your diet. Start adding some today, and you won’t regret it.