For Health and Taste, THIS is the “King of Spring!”

Calling asparagus the “King of Spring” really isn’t an exaggeration. Between the incredible taste and amazing health benefits of this perennial vegetable, serving it every chance we get is a wise dietary step to take, especially for those with blood sugar issues. Below is the Reader’s Digest version of its many benefits, followed by a wonderful recipe:

Anti-Inflammatory: Asparagus contains abundant anti-inflammatory nutrients, such as saponins and the flavonoids quercetin, rutin, laempferol and isorhamnetin, which all help to combat arthritis, asthma, and autoimmune diseases.

Antioxidants: Its glutathione is a powerful oxidation-reduction agent in our bodies. Along with the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin A (beta-carotene), zinc, manganese and selenium, the glutathione in asparagus fights against free radicals that cause aging and “cellular rust.”

Cancer: It is now well-known that chronic cellular inflammation and oxidation lead to a variety of cancers. With its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, asparagus is a robust fighter against bladder, breast, colon, lung, prostate, ovarian, and other cancers.

Heart Health: Folate, a B complex vitamin, is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and is found in abundance in asparagus (one cup contains 66% of the RDA of folate). Firstly, it is involved in a biochemical event called the methylation cycle, which allows for the proper transcription of DNA, the transformation of norepinephrine to adrenalin and the transformation of serotonin to melatonin. Secondly, folate regulates the amino acid homocysteine, which in high levels can be a strong risk factor in heart disease. And finally, B vitamins such as choline, biotin, and pantothenic acid manage our blood sugar levels by effectively metabolizing sugars and starches.

Birth Defects: Folate is also essential for proper cellular division. Healthy servings of asparagus prevent folate-deficiency, which has been linked to birth defects such as spina bifida (a congenital defect in which the spinal cord is exposed through a gap in the backbone).

Diuretic: Its amino acid asparagine, is an effective diuretic and has been historically used to treat swelling, arthritis, rheumatism, and PMS-related water retention.

Diet and Digestion: Inulin, a carbohydrate in asparagus, encourages the growth of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, two bacteria that boost nutrient absorption, lower the risk of allergy and colon cancer, and help prevent unfriendly bacteria from taking hold in our intestinal tract. Furthermore, one cup of asparagus contains over 11% of the RDA of dietary fiber and almost 10% of the RDA of protein. The healthy fiber and protein content of asparagus stabilizes our digestion, curbs overeating, maintains a low blood sugar and prevents constipation. AND, one cup of asparagus only contains 43 calories!

Vitamin K: Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K (providing 114% of the RDA in one cup), which is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a protein that strengthens the composition of our bones. Furthermore, vitamin K prevents calcium build-up in our tissue that can lead to atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Vitamin C: As mentioned above, asparagus contains a healthy dose of the strong antioxidant vitamin C (over 30% of the RDA). Other health benefits associated with vitamin C are a lower blood pressure, healthy immune system, and resistance to age-related ocular diseases, such as cataracts and muscular degeneration.

With all the medical data and science blah-blah as strong motivation for jumping on the asparagus bandwagon, let’s look at a terrific recipe for the jump. This may just become a family favorite!

Grilled Asparagus and Macadamia Salad


1 bunch fresh asparagus
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon juiced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 leaves sweet basil finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

6 baby tomatoes quartered
1 handful raw macadamia nut toasted
feta cheese for sprinkling
kalamata olives chopped (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Wash and dry asparagus spears and place in baking dish.
3. Drizzle olive oil.
4. Broil for 15-20 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

6. Add olive oil to a small mixing bowl with lemon juice, garlic, basil, salt and pepper.
7. Mix quickly to emulsify mixture. Set aside.
8. Lightly toast macadamia nuts over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Remove and roughly chop.
9. Arrange asparagus on serving plate. Top with tomatoes, macadamias, olives (if using); sprinkle feta over all.
10. Finish by drizzling on the pre-made garlic-basil oil and serve.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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    Alice Osborne
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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