ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is a perennial crop which is considered both a tasty green vegetable and an attractive ornamental plant.  It is the “shoot” that is harvested when it’s about eight to ten inches tall – usually from Mid May until the end of June.  Once harvested, the plant grows tall, fernlike strands that florists use as a background in floral arrangements. 

To keep your asparagus fresh, stand it in a pail or jar (tips up) with an inch of water in the bottom and refrigerate.

Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It leads nearly all produce items in the wide array of nutrients it supplies in significant amounts for a healthy diet.

asparagus

Asparagus is the leading supplier among vegetables of folic acid.  A 5.3 ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folacin which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease.  Folacin has been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.

Its wealth of nutrients, fibre and very low sodium and calorie content make asparagus a nutritionally wise choice.

 

Asparagus is:

o        Low in calories, only 20 per 5.3 oz. serving, less than 4 calories per spear.

o        Contains no fat or cholesterol.

o        Very low in sodium

o        A good source of potassium.(1)

o        A source of fibre (3 grams per 5.3 oz. serving). (2)

o        An excellent source of folacin. (3)

o        A significant source of thiamin. (4)

o        A significant source of vitamin B6. (4)

o        One of the richest sources of rutin, a drug which strengthens capillary walls.

o        Contains glutathione (GSH). (5)

 

Nutrient Values:

 

% of USRDA


 

Serving size

5.3 ounces

Protein

6%

Calories

20

Vitamin A

8%

Protein

3 grams

Vitamin C

20%

Carbohydrate

3 grams

Thiamin

15%

Fat

0 grams

Riboflavin

6%

Cholesterol

0 milligrams

Niacin

6%

Sodium

5 milligrams

Calcium

2%

Potassium

400 milligrams

Iron

*

Dietary Fiber

3 grams

Vitamin E

*

 

 

Vitamin B6

10%

 

 

Folacin

60%

 

 

Magnesium

4%

 

 

Copper

4%

 

 

Pantothenic Acid

*


 

 

(1) A good source provides 25% or more of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA).
(2) A source of fiber provides 2 grams or more per serving. A good source contains 5 grams or more, an excellent source contains 8 grams or more.
(3) An excellent source means 40% or more of the USRDA (asparagus contains 60% of the USRDA for folacin). Folacin is a B vitamin which helps in the duplication of cells for growth and repair of the body, and in blood cell reproduction in the bone marrow. Adequate folacin intake can prevent miscarriage and neural tube defects (NTDs). Folacin helps in the formation of hemoglobin, as well. The United States Public Health Service recommends that: All women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume 0.4 mg of folacin per day for the purpose of reducing their risk of having a pregnancy affected with spina bifida or other NTDs.
(4) A significant source means 10% or more of the USRDA.
(5) Glutathione (GSH) is one of the most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants found within the body. GSH is used to detoxify carcinogenic electrophiles and protect cells from oxidative damage, thereby preventing damage to DNA and other macromolecules. Thus, GSH acts as an initial and primary defense against chemicals that can cause cell transformation and/or cell death. Asparagus had the highest GSH content of the several foods tested.

 Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board © 2000

 

Balsamic Roasted Asparagus

¨     2 lbs. Fresh Asparagus

¨     2 Tbs. Olive Oil

¨     ¼ Cup Balsamic Vinegar

¨     3 cloves Garlic, minced

Place asparagus in a foil pan for barbequing or a metal pan for the oven. Combine oil, vinegar & garlic & pour over asparagus.  Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast at a high temperature – 425 degrees in the oven or high on the BBQ for 5 to 10 minutes.

HOME