There are plenty of reasons to get excited about spring. Warmer weather, longer days and the fact that you can FINALLY break out the sandals again, for example. But being health nerds one of the biggest ones for us around here is all the fresh veggies to choose from.
In fact, as far as we’re concerned, spring hasn’t officially sprung until we spot those fresh green asparagus stalks in the produce section for the first time. Sweet, tender and surprisingly good for you, asparagus is one of the best things about the season.
Following are twelve excellent reasons you should put delicious, and nutritious, asparagus on the menu today.
1. Beautiful skin and hair:
Asparagus is a good source of vitamin E, a powerful anti-aging antioxidant that’s essential for healthy skin. Vitamin E, a natural anti-inflammatory, helps keep your skin plump, soft and youthful. And those bright green stalks provide plenty of vitamins C and A, which your body uses to make wrinkle fighting collagen.
Plus asparagus is brimming with many of the nutrients that you need for a healthy head of hair including vitamins A, C, B3 and essential minerals iron and zinc. These hair-friendly nutrients help keep your hair thick, shiny and strong.
2. Strong as steel bones:
Most folks know how important calcium is to bone health, and asparagus does provide a bit of this important mineral. But many people overlook how important vitamin K is to keeping our bones strong, and that’s where asparagus really shines.
Asparagus provides more than 50 percent of your daily recommended serving of this essential vitamin. Vitamin K helps with both the formation and repair of every bone in your body. And this vital vitamin is linked to lower rates of osteoporosis.
3. A healthy brain:
Asparagus is an excellent source of brain-supporting folate, providing 67 percent of the daily recommended amount of this important B vitamin. According to Tufts University, folate has been shown to reduce homocysteine, an amino acid that experts say is linked to cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
In other words, getting plenty of folate in your diet—like you’ll find in our favorite spring veggie—could help slow, or even prevent, cognitive decline. Make it an asparagus omelet and the B12 rich eggs will provide even more brain protection.
4. Reduced cancer risk:
Folate isn’t just good for your brain, however. Experts say a diet rich in the B vitamin could also help reduce your risk for cancer. And research has shown that folate-rich foods may help protect us against pancreatic, esophageal and colorectal cancers.
5. Smooth blood flow:
Without healthy levels of B vitamins you run the risk of blood clots, damaged veins and other heart emergencies such as stroke and heart attack. Luckily a serving of delicious asparagus will provide you with a good amount of several of these important vitamins, including B1 and B3, to help keep your blood flowing smoothly.
6. Better blood sugar:
Asparagus is naturally low in carbohydrates, which makes it a great choice for anyone watching their blood sugar. But it turns out being low carb isn’t the only reason this veggie is blood sugar friendly.
Research has revealed asparagus can help us stabilize our blood sugar. And, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, this springtime staple could even help your body produce more insulin.
7. Freedom from depression:
Rising homocysteine levels don’t just threaten your cognitive health, they can also wreck your mood. High levels of the amino acid can block the feel-good chemicals your brain normally produces, and that can lead to depression. But the folate in asparagus can help slash your homocysteine levels, helping to keep mild depression at bay.
8. Healthy digestion:
Asparagus is packed with fiber, so you’re getting what you need to keep things moving through your digestive system. But just as importantly, asparagus is an excellent source of inulin, a very specific fiber that acts as a prebiotic (a food for the healthy bacteria in your gut) that keeps your digestive tract working smoothly.
9. Eagle-eye vision:
Asparagus brings a healthy amount of vitamin A to the table, about 20 percent of your daily requirement per serving. Vitamin A is essential for eyesight, and a key nutrient in preventing both cataracts and macular degeneration.
10. All day energy:
You get a healthy punch of energy-boosting iron whenever you put asparagus on the menu. A single serving of asparagus provides 16 percent of your iron for the day. (But why stick to a single serving when it’s so good and good for you?)
11. Kidney stone free:
If you’ve ever eaten asparagus before you probably already know the veggie is a terrific diuretic. Which means a regular asparagus habit could help keep your kidneys and bladder free of stones. In an animal study, published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, an asparagus extract reduced the amount of stone forming calcium, phosphorus, urea and creatinine in the kidneys, lowering the risk of kidney stones.
12. Clean as a whistle urinary tract:
If you’re prone to UTIs, eating more asparagus—combined with lots of water—may help keep them at bay. As a diuretic asparagus keeps the fluids flowing, sweeping your urinary tract clean of infection triggering bacteria.
Plus, this springtime favorite naturally fights bacteria with research published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine confirming asparagus extracts are effective against at least 18 different strains of bacteria.
Asparagus is a nutritional powerhouse, providing health benefits head to toe. If you’re not already taking advantage of this year’s crop it’s time to change that starting today.