If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, you could well be in for a spring time treat - fresh locally-produced asparagus.
Asparagus does not store well so to make the most of its fresh and nutritional value, eat it as quickly as possible after harvesting and cook the stems lightly by steaming.
The health benefits of including fresh asparagus in your diet
- It is very nutritious and an excellent source of vitamins - especially gut health and folate.
- Asparagus is one of the best vegetables for gut health as it is a good source of prebiotic fiber, helping promote a healthy digestive system.
- It is also an excellent source of phytochemicals helping to protect against many diseases as well as inflammation and allergies.
- Those same phytochemicals have a positive effect on the immune system while helping to decrease cholesterol levels if they are a problem.
- Purple asparagus contains anthocyanins with their powerful antioxidant qualities.
Why purple and green asparagus is more nutritious than white
While green asparagus has marginally more phytochemicals, purple asparagus spears have a significantly higher rutin content - known to improve blood circulation. However, while white asparagus is not a specific variety, it can be produced by covering the crop to block any sunlight. This prevents the asparagus from photosynthesizing (making energy from the sun's rays) and producing the chlorophyll that gives the spears their green color.
Sometimes, asparagus is managed in this way to reduce bitterness and to give it a mild flavor but at the expense of most of its nutritional value.
If you have a vegetable area in your back yard, you can grow your own
Asparagus has a reputation for being difficult to grow but that is really untrue. Provided the initial groundwork is done with the asparagus bed cleared of persistent weeds, growing asparagus can be be quite easy. Good preparation is key and spending a bit extra on good quality crowns to plant with give you years of return. Once planted, you will need to be patient for a couple of years before you can harvest but, after that, it will keep coming.
Plant in full sun to get the full benefit of its health benefits and you will be rewarded year after year.
We have had our own asparagus bed on our allotment
for the past four years and we are getting a good handful of fresh asparagus every couple of days. We pick it just before we go home so that we can have an immediate meal of freshly steamed asparagus with a sprinkling of natural sea salt
and some grass fed butter.
Packed with fiber and phytochemicals, asparagus is one of the best crops to grow for your gut health!