One of the first foods that signals the start of spring is the appearance of fresh asparagus at local farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Just as spring is a time of new beginnings, asparagus is one of those veggies that I love to experiment with during this time of year.
And not only is asparagus delicious—it’s also packed with health benefits:
1. It’s loaded with nutrients:
Pictured recipe: Coriander-&-Lemon-Crusted Salmon with Asparagus Salad & Poached Egg
Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
2. It can help fight cancer:
Pictured recipe: Ricotta Gnocchi with Spring Vegetables
This herbaceous plant—along with avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts—is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.
3. Asparagus is packed with antioxidants:
Pictured recipe: Asparagus Salad with Eggs & Jambon de Bayonne
It’s one of the top ranked fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This, according to preliminary research, may help slow the aging process.
4. Asparagus is a brain booster:
Pictured recipe: Asparagus with Easy Hollandaise Sauce
Another anti-aging property of this delicious spring veggie is that it may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12—found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy—to help prevent cognitive impairment. In a study from Tufts University, older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12 performed better on a test of response speed and mental flexibility. (If you’re 50-plus, be sure you’re getting enough B12: your ability to absorb it decreases with age.)
5. It’s a natural diuretic: