Asparagus all-round: How it improves your health!

A quick “how to” guide on purchasing, handling and preparing asparagus. As well as why asparagus is great for our bodies and minds for not only today, but tomorrow too!

It is that time of the year now, when fresh fruits and vegetables can be purchased. One vegetable that is a great choice is asparagus! This vegetable provides our body with many key nutrients we need to stay healthy and live longer.

To purchase: It is important to know what “good” asparagus looks like. When you go to buy asparagus, you want to make sure the tip of each spear is tight together. The spear should be green and firm, and only the very bottom of each spear should be white.

To handle and store: Once you buy your asparagus, you want it to stay fresh as long as possible, so you’ll want to use it within two to five days. When you get home, if you don’t plan to use it right away, put them in a plastic bag with an inch of water, or wrap a damp paper towel around them before putting them in a bag and then refrigerate.

To prepare: Here are a few different ways to prepare asparagus; steam, boil, roast, microwave and grill. You can add your own spices and healthy flavors to it as well. Try lightly coating them with extra virgin olive oil and crushed black pepper, or brush them with raspberry vinaigrette dressing before grilling. Try out different flavors and remember to just have fun with it!

What are the health benefits: Asparagus can be considered a “power food” for many reasons. It contains many vitamins and minerals that we need for daily function, including fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K and folate – which is important for our cells to grow. It also contains a compound called glutathione, which helps detoxify our body, meaning it helps remove harmful substances. Research on asparagus suggests that due to the antioxidants that are present in asparagus, it may actually help slow down aging and help our minds stay stronger, longer!

Asparagus is a great vegetable that can easily be added to many meals. Here are a few hints and tips on how you can add it to your plate:

  • Chop it up and put it on a salad, raw (just wash it first).
  • Mix it in with a casserole (example: Tator-tot casserole).
  • Grill it and put it next to fish, chicken or steak.
  • Microwave it and eat it as a snack – Dip it in low-fat dressing.
  • Add it (diced) in with mashed potatoes for that extra crunch.
  • Put it on your pizza – a new topping!
  • Throw it in with pasta salad.

These are just a few extra ideas on how you can incorporate this vegetable into your daily meals, helping to keep you and your families mind and body young and healthy. For more food and health information visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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