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Food Of the Month Asparagus

26.11.2013

ca0a7c573602775Asparagus has many anti-inflammatory properties due to containing saponins and phytonutrients. Asparagus provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. In addition to the antioxidant nutrients above, this much-loved vegetable may also contain a valuable amount of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH).
Several studies have compared the overall antioxidant capacity of asparagus to the antioxidant capacity of other vegetables, and the results for asparagus have been impressive. Asparagus compares favourably with many of the cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower, and while it ranks lower than some of the green leafy vegetables like spinach, it is still very high on the list of antioxidant foods.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients are some of the best risk reducers we know for common chronic health problems including Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.
Like chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus contains significant amounts of the nutrient inulin. Inulin is a unique type of carbohydrate called a polyfructan, and in practical terms, healthcare practitioners often refer to it as a “prebiotic.” Unlike most other carbs, inulin doesn’t get broken down in the first segments of our digestive tract. It passes undigested all the way to our large intestine. Once it arrives at our large intestine, it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria (like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) that are associated with better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy, and lower risk of colon cancer.

Asparagus is also rich in fibre (about 3 grams per cup, including about 2 grams of insoluble fibre and 1 gram of soluble fibre) and also contains a noteworthy amount of protein (about 4-5 grams per cup). Both fibre and protein help stabilize our digestion and keep food moving through us at the desirable rate.
The B-vitamin content of asparagus is high and asparagus emerges as an excellent source of folic acid and vitamin B1 and a very good source of vitamins B2, B3 and B6. Asparagus also contains the B vitamins choline, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Because B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, they are critical for healthy blood sugar management as well as supporting stress response hormones within the body.