If you’re having trouble cutting calories, I’ve got a simple solution. Eat more vegetables! You can start with one that’s currently in-season and locally grown: asparagus. With its short growing season that begins in May and ends in June, asparagus is one of the first vegetables to be harvested after winter. Well known for its bright emerald green color and crisp stalks, it can be eaten in quiches, salads and omelets or as a simple side dish. Quick-cooking waterless preparation methods like roasting, grilling, and stir-frying will preserve the fabulous nutritional content and antioxidant power of asparagus.
Springtime is here and in honor of the new beginnings that mark this season, enjoy some asparagus and get a jump on weight loss. In this month’s feature article, I will discuss the health benefits of this delicious vegetable and provide you with additional tips and an easy recipe.
1. Asparagus is low in calories as long as you don’t smother it with high-fat cheese sauce or butter. Like other vegetables, it can help to satisfy hunger while promoting a healthy weight. Six spears of asparagus have just 19 calories and less than 0.2 grams of fat.
2. It’s a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
3. Asparagus ranks among the top vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. It is packed with antioxidants like glutathione and rutin which may help slow the aging process.
4. It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine which serves as a natural diuretic – increasing urination. This can be especially beneficial for people who experience fluid retention and for those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.
5. Asparagus contains a truly unique combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients including saponins and flavonoids like quercetin, rutin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin. Chronic inflammation is considered a risk factor for many diseases including type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Asparagus can help by supporting the production of anti-inflammatory immune compounds and lessening inflammation in the body.
It’s a common misconception that the thin spears are young shoots and therefore more tender. Actually, the long, thick dark green glossy spears with tightly closed heads are the best quality.
If your recipe calls for cold cooked asparagus, plunge the stalks into cold water immediately after cooking and then remove them quickly. Letting them soak too long can cause them to become soggy.
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese
Roasting preserves the flavor and color of asparagus without making it tough or stringy
MAKES 4 (4 oz.) SERVINGS
1 bunch (about 1 lb) fresh asparagus, rinsed and trimmed
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
1. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil; roll to coat.
2. Roast about 10 minutes until asparagus is tender. Remove from oven.
3. Season generously with pepper; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Return to oven. Roast about 5 minutes more until cheese begins to soften.
Each ½ cup serving contains
90 calories, 4g carb, 2g fiber, 3g protein, 7g fat, 2g sat fat, 0mg cholesterol, 15mg sodium
Asparagus, like all vegetables, support health and weight control. If you’re looking for a simple yet powerful action you can take to improve the quality of your diet and help you lose weight, eat more vegetables; at least 2 – 3 cups per day for good health. For more ideas, check out my free introductory consultation at https://njnutritionist.com/freeconsult
Until next time, eat and be well!
Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS RD