How to cook asparagus

Did you know that asparagus is a fat-free, low sodium vegetable that provides lots of nutrients and only has three calories per spear?   Of course, by the time you add butter and seasonings, you might have much higher fat and sodium levels!


Why is asparagus so nutrient-dense?  It is because it has Folate (reduces the risk of heart disease, dementia and neural tube defects), Vitamins A and C (reduces the risk of heart disease and certain cancers plus protects the eye and gives you healthy skin), Vitamin K (essential for bone formation and blood clotting), Rutin (strengthens capillary walls), and Inulin (is a food source for the good bacteria in your large intestine).

Asparagus is also known as a natural remedy that can help relieve indigestion and can 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 is high in sulfur, which can alter the smell of your 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 the green, but it is grown out of the sun.  That means that 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.  My friend’s asparagus had the prettiest purple tops, which also made it look quite pretty on my plate.

When choosing asparagus, you should select spears that are crisp with tips that are pointed and tightly closed.  Try to select spears similar in diameter for uniform cooking time.  The best way to store asparagus is in a dark part of the refrigerator, wrapped in a moist paper towel.  You may also cut off about an inch from the end and place the spears upright in an inch of water.  Be sure to use the cut asparagus within two or three days.  If the tips become wilted, you can freshen them by briefly soaking them in ice cold water.

To prepare this delectable vegetable, you will want to run the spears under cool, running water.  If the tips have sand or dirt in them, dunk the tips in and out of water and then rinse them really well.  Be sure to trim off any tough or white ends.  You only cook the asparagus until it is tender and crisp.  Steaming or microwaving are better cooking methods than boiling, and asparagus can also be stir-fried, roasted, broiled or grilled.

Article source:

University of Missouri Extension MP909 Seasonal and Simple

Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2010

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