Asparagus is one of the oldest known eaten veggies, with Egyptian friezes of people eating it going back to 3,000 BCE. The Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season and dried the vegetable for use in winter. Cooking asparagus is very easy – it can be baked, roasted, sautéed, grilled, steamed and even pureed for soup. Any way that one decides to prepare it, asparagus comes loaded with some excellent health benefits and is considered to be a super healthy food.

What goes into this recipe?
In ancient times, around 3,000 BCE, asparagus was eaten throughout Europe and the Middle East, including in Syria, Greece, Italy and Spain. The diversity of recipes reflects this breadth. However, asparagus is typically enjoyed in very healthy dishes that range from soups to sandwiches. Other ways of enjoying this highly nutritious vegetable include dishes such as risottos (rice dishes), vegetarian dishes, salmon dishes and appetizers.

There are also quite a few unique flavors one can enjoy with asparagus such as roasted asparagus and garlic asparagus.  Some children find the veggie too intense. However, with a good recipe and light moderation, even children can begin to enjoy the flavor and amazing health benefits of asparagus.

How will it benefit me?
Asparagus offers many great health benefits.  It is rich in vitamins A and K, potassium, folate and glutathione.  It has no sodium or cholesterol and is very low in calories as well.  It is said by many experts to be a highly detoxifying food.  Asparagus contains 288 mg of potassium per cup.  Potassium has known effects in reducing belly fat. Asparagus also is rich in fiber which helps to cleanse the digestive system.  One cup contains a mere 40 calories and it is considered to be an ultimate detoxification vegetable.

One surprising fact about asparagus is that it is actually considered to be a psycho-physiological aphrodisiac.  The French word for asparagus is actually used as a slang term for “penis”.  While it is historically thought of increasing libido, it is more likely to be a psychological phenomenon as there haven’t been any major studies on the sex-inducing factor of the vegetable

Other benefits are more concrete. For example, because it is high in folate, asparagus is a great food one can eat that helps to protect the body against cancer.  The folate in asparagus is also responsible for reducing pain and inflammation in the body.

Asparagus is one of the leading natural sources of vitamin K, which has been shown to help prevent the onset of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.  Vitamin K aids in the formation of bones and bone repair.  It is also a necessary factor for the synthesis of osteocalcin.  Osteocalcin is the protein found in bone tissue where calcium crystallizes.

On top of these benefits, it is said that asparagus may also help to reduce the risk of heart disease.  This is due to its folate, which is particularly beneficial to women who are pregnant. A folate deficiency has been shown to be directly related to the increased risk of Spina Bifida, a birth defect in the spinal cord.  The presence of folate helps regulate embryonic and fetal nerve cell formation and development and can also help prevent premature births.

Asparagus can also be part of a diet that’s good for your skin. The vitamins and folate found in asparagus can help keep skin and hair looking and feeling youthful.

Any reason why shouldn’t I eat too much of this?
When the body cannot completely breakdown the foods we eat, especially foods that are high in carbohydrates, the result is the buildup of gas in the body. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information clearing house, it is considered perfectly healthy to pass gas more or less 14 times a day. However, some foods we eat are known to cause much more gas than others.  Asparagus contains raffinose which is a type of carbohydrate.  This carbohydrate includes the sugars known as galactose, fructose and glucose.

While many animal’s digestive systems have the ability to break down this complex carbohydrate, humans actually lack the necessary enzyme to get the job done.  As a result, the bacteria in the intestines actually must ferment in the food in order to break it down. This process leads to the formation of gases within the body which can only escape the body through burping or through flatulence.   While there are several excellent asparagus recipes out there, one should know that eating too much of this healthy food can lead to excess gas.

Another, unique negative effect of eating too much asparagus has to do with a specific sulfur-containing amino acid derivative of methione.  The effect is a pungent odor in one’s urine.  It is usually noticed relatively soon after eating asparagus. Some people claim that asparagus does not affect their urine, and there are different theories why this is the case.  Some say that some people do not have the ability to produce this odor-producing amino acid while others say some people just can’t smell it.  In any case, the latest research suggests that genetics play a role in how asparagus affects the odor of one’s urine.

How do I make it healthier?
There are plenty of steps one can take to make asparagus recipes healthier.  For instance, many recipes that use asparagus also call for a lot of butter.  Butter, though very tasty, is not exactly healthy and should be used in healthy moderation. Alternately, it can be substituted for canola or olive oil, which do not have the saturated and trans fats that butter has. Other recipes call for high levels of salt, which in excess, can lead to hypertension.

The food we eat is responsible for every aspect of our life.  Things like our energy level, mood, focus, health and longevity are all related to the fuels that we put in our bodies. Asparagus has been eaten for thousands of years. It is vegetable that is high in many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and K, potassium, folate and glutathione.  It is low in fat and has zero cholesterol. Because asparagus is eaten in so many different cultures, it has been integrated into many different cuisines. There are many asparagus recipes that can be found online that will provide numerous health benefits from this super vegetable.

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