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All About Asparagus
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By University of Missouri Extension

University of Missouri Extension is research based information that is relevant, reliable, and responsive to the needs of our clientele. From home finance to nutrition and fitness, to agronomy, farm and business planning, to family dynamics, ...

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University of Missouri Extension is research based information that is relevant, reliable, and responsive to the needs of our clientele. From home finance to nutrition and fitness, to agronomy, farm and business planning, to family dynamics, extension has information for you. The purpose of this blog is to inform and educate the community on programs and information that impacts your daily life. Sharing of this information should steer you in the path of increased knowledge and awareness of where to find answers to your questions.

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By University of Missouri Extension
April 19, 2013 4:13 p.m.



Asparagus, in season in April and May, is a fat-free, low-sodium vegetable that provides lots of nutrients and only three calories per spear.

Nutrients found in asparagus include:

Folate – reduces risk of heart disease, dementia and neural tube defects

Vitamins A and C – reduce risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and protect eye and skin health

Vitamin K – essential for bone formation and blood clotting

Potassium – maintains healthy blood pressure

Rutin – strengthens capillary walls

Inulin – a food source for the good bacteria in large intestine

Asparagus is also known as a natural remedy that can help relieve indigestion and act as a mild laxative and sedative.

Despite all of the benefits, there are a few downsides to eating asparagus. The vegetable is high in purine, which increases the risk of gout and kidney stones, and high in sulfur, which can alter the smell of urine. In addition, inulin, while a good food source for intestinal bacteria, also produces intestinal gas.

There are a few types of asparagus and they’re all a little bit different. White asparagus comes from the same plant as green, but it’s grown out of the sun, so it doesn’t develop chlorophyll, which makes it lower in nutrients. Purple asparagus is sweeter and its color is created by health-promoting antioxidant properties.

When choosing asparagus, pick crisp, round spears with tips that are pointed and tightly closed. Try to select spears similar in diameter for uniform cooking time. Store asparagus in a dark part of the refrigerator, wrapped in a moist paper towel. You may also cut off 1 inch from the end and place upright in 1 inch of water. Use cut asparagus within two to three days. If the tips become wilted, freshen with a brief soak in ice cold water.

Prepare by cleaning under cool, running water. If the tips have sand or dirt in them, dunk the tips in and out of water, then rinse well. Trim off any tough or white ends. Cook quickly until asparagus is tender and crisp. Steaming and microwaving are better cooking methods than boiling, and asparagus can also be stir-fried, roasted, broiled or grilled. Here are some recipes to try.

Roasted Asparagus

2 pounds asparagus

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Trim asparagus and toss to coat with oil. Place on a baking pan in a single layer and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Roast for 5 to 10 minutes.

Canyon Ranch Asparagus Guacamole

2 cups (approximately 1 pound) chopped lightly steamed asparagus*

2¼ teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons chopped onion

1 large tomato, chopped

3/4 teaspoon salt, optional

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 garlic, pressed or minced

Dash hot sauce

1/3 cup light sour cream

*If you're using frozen asparagus spears, it is not necessary to steam them (just thaw them to room temperature).

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Cover tightly and refrigerate several hours or overnight before serving. Makes 3 cups.

(Recipe source: Canyon Ranch Cooking: Bringing the Spa Home, by Canyon Ranch and Jones)

For more information, contact your local MU Extension Center or Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition and Health Specialist at mills-grays@missouri.edu

Article sources:

MU publication MP 909, Seasonal and Simple

Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2010

 

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