Asparagus is an underrated vegetable–it offers innumerable benefits and is available to consume year round. Adding asparagus to your meals can be key to meeting the amount of vegetables recommended by the USDA's MyPlate, which is 1-3 cups depending on the individual's needs.
Asparagus can add more variety to your vegetable consumption which is the crucial to ensuring you are getting sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber. What’s more, it is low carb and makes a delicious side dish when sautéed, steamed, broiled, grilled and especially air-fried!
Benefits of Asparagus:
1. Asparagus Provides a Source of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that help stop or limit the damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress.
These free radicals are produced naturally by our body and because they cause large-chain chemical reactions in your body, they can create a lot of damage and contribute to many diseases.
Asparagus is high in antioxidants. These include vitamin E, vitamin C, beta carotene, selenium and glutathione–all of which help fight off and protect you from free radicals.
2. Asparagus Can Help Improve Digestion
Given that just 1/2 cup of asparagus contains 1.8 grams of fiber, this superstar vegetable makes it an excellent way to meet your fiber needs. Dietary fiber is part of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb, as opposed to fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
Asparagus is high in insoluble fiber and contains small amounts of soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is very important as it ensures a healthy digestive tract; it helps bulk up your stool, making it easier to pass, thereby preventing constipation as well as improving overall bowel movements.
On the other hand, soluble fiber ensures a healthy gut: feeding the good bacteria in the gut such as Bifidobacteria.
Much research has demonstrated that a diet rich in fiber may reduce risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.
3. Asparagus Improves Pregnancy Health
Because asaparagus is a rich source of vitamin B9, it can help prevent birth defects in your pregnancy.
Also, asparagus is incredibly high in vitamin K, which plays an important role in calcium metabolism by transporting calcium throughout the body.
It also aids in fetal bone formation and overall health. Even more, one cup of asparagus provides over half of your daily folate needs, which helps prevent neural tube defects in babies. Neural tube defects affect the baby’s spinal cord, brain and skull.
4. Asparagus Reduces Blood Clotting
These green stalks can also prevent thrombosis, or more commonly known as blood clots that can result in heart attacks, strokes and shorter life expectancies.
Fortunately, asparagus contains a special compound called rutin that has been shown to prevent blood clot formation.
Mortality as a result of blood clot is no surprise; in fact, heart disease was the number one cause of death in the U.S. in 2019 and stroke was number 5.
In one study, rutin was shown to inhibit both platelet accumulation and fibrin generation during clot formation. This helps reduce platelet stickiness and consequently inhibits the clotting cascade.
5. Asparagus is Nutrient Dense and is Low in Calories
Asparagus has nearly 100 phytonutrient compounds including organic acids, oxylipins, amino acids, and flavonoids. It is also very high in vitamin K, folate, copper, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E.
In just half a cup of cooked asparagus, there is only 20 calories and it is packed with 2.2 g of protein, 57% of the RI for Vitamin K, and 1.8 grams of fiber, among many other nutrients. This makes it one of the best vegetables for protein, an essential nutrient to build and repair tissues. Vitamin K is also an essential nutrient involved in blood clotting and bone health. The fiber in asparagus is important for regulating bowel movements and reducing constipation.
Interestingly, asparagus is the only food to contain the chemical asparagusic acid, which is a sulfur-containing compound that is known to produce a sulfurous odor. This chemical is the reason why some people may experience foul smelling urine after consumption.
Air-Fried Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan Recipe
While you can make them in the oven, the air fryer is much easier to clean up, makes it much crispier and cooks quicker! There is no need to preheat the oven and prepare so many trays. Roasted asparagus will make eating your vegetables so much easier, especially for the kids! The texture from air-frying creates a delicious and tender inside with a crispy outside. It is loaded with so much flavor, comes with a little crunch and takes only 2 minutes to prepare.
Prep time: 2 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 12 mins
- 1 bundle asparagus
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese (powdered or grated)
- pepper to taste
- Wash and trim the bottom 2 inches off (these are the hard ends of the asparagus).
- Spritz the asparagus with olive oil. You may also use cooking spray.
- Sprinkle garlic salt on top and season with pepper as well. Add a little bit of Parmesan cheese evenly across the top of asparagus.
- Add the asparagus to the air fryer basket and cook at 360 degrees for 6-10 minutes, or until crisp. The thinner your asparagus is, the faster it will cook.
- Add a little extra Parmesan cheese over the roasted asparagus and serve immediately.
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