Asparagus is an early spring vegetable that has many essential vitamins and minerals. Asparagus is ripe for only a very short season in early spring, sometimes only a few weeks! There are festivals dedicated to celebrating this very seasonal vegetable, including one in Oceana County, Michigan (1). Michigan is the second largest producer of asparagus in the country (2).
Asparagus is an excellent source of Vitamin K (one serving of asparagus gives you an entire day’s worth of vitamin K!) (3,4). It is also a good source of folate, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamins A, C, and E (3,4). Asparagus has lots of excellent minerals too, including selenium, copper, phosphorus, and zinc (3,4). It is also low in calories and sodium and has no fat or cholesterol. Asparagus has lots of fiber, which helps to feel full for longer. A diet high in fiber has also been linked to many different positive health benefits, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, and total mortality, among other things (5, 6, 7).
Shopping and Storage Tips:
- Choose firm, straight, smooth green stalks with tightly-closed tips.
- Select stalks with uniform thickness to control cooking times.
- Do not wash asparagus before storing. Trim the ends and store them upright in a jar with about an inch of water in the bottom. Cover with a plastic bag and store for up to 2 days.
- National Asparagus Festival. website: http://www.nationalasparagusfestival.org/
- Michigan Asparagus Board. Website: http://www.michiganasparagus.org/#about
- US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Revised May 2016. Website: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/
- US Department of Agriculture, SuperTracker. Website: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/default.aspx
- Threapleton, D. E. et al. (2013) Dietary fibre intake and risk of cardiovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. British Medical Journal, Website: https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/347/bmj.f6879.full.pdf
- Aune, D. (2011) Dietary fibre, whole grains, and risk of colorectal cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. British Medical Journal. Website: https://www.bmj.com/content/bmj/343/bmj.d6617.full.pdf
- Kim, Y. (2014) Dietary fiber intake and total mortality: a meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. American Journal of Epidemiology. Website: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25143474