This springtime green is tender, tasty, easy to prepare and packed with nutritional benefits. So maybe it’s time to make these succulent stalks a menu regular.
Asparagus helps the heart in several ways. It’s rich in fiber, which can reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, and full of inflammation-fighting antioxidants. It also packs plenty of B vitamins, which help regulate the amino acid homocysteine, high levels of which can be a danger to your arteries. What’s more, one ½-cup serving of this powerhouse vegetable provides 57 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin K (which helps blood clotting and strengthens bones) and 34 percent of the daily requirement for folate (needed to produce DNA and to help the body’s cells divide properly). Asparagus also contains a type of soluble fiber that helps us absorb nutrients by supporting the colon’s probiotic bacteria. You get all that— and distinctive taste, too—for only 20 calories!
Choose stalks that are round and neither fat nor twisted. The stems should be firm and thin with deep green or purplish closed tips. To store your spears, wrap a damp paper towel or cloth around the ends and place in your fridge. Try to consume asparagus within 48 hours of purchase, when it’s at its best both in taste and nutritional value. Pre-cooking prep is minimal. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the outer skin of the stem’s thicker bottom portion, which tends to be tough and stringy. Don’t cut the tips off! Wash asparagus under cold water to remove any grit and then cook stalks whole to maintain nutrients. Serve asparagus as a side dish by sautéing in your choice of vegetable broth, chicken broth or olive oil, or by roasting in the oven, lightly sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. In the mood for a breakfast with a difference? Asparagus makes a flavorful addition to any omelet. Or liven up that lunchtime salad by chopping up asparagus spears—raw or cooked—and tossing them into the mix.