When compared to all vegetables, asparagus contains the highest percentage of folate in addition to numerous vitamins and minerals, making it a healthy choice for any diet. You are probably familiar with green asparagus, but you can find white asparagus as well. Both contain healthy nutrients, but green asparagus contains higher amounts.
A half-cup serving -- approximately five spears -- of cooked asparagus will provide you with 20 calories. Asparagus does not contain any cholesterol and has minimal fat, just 0.20 grams per serving. The majority of calories in asparagus are made up of carbohydrates, at 3.7 grams. Asparagus, a good source of dietary fiber, provides 3 grams per serving. Asparagus also provides 2.16 grams of protein. White asparagus, which is grown with soil covering it to prevent exposure to sunlight, contains lower amounts of protein when compared to green asparagus. It contains less than 2 grams per 100 grams of edible portions, according to the California Asparagus Commission.
Folate is a B vitamin that aids in the production of new cells. An adequate folate intake is crucial for women who plan to become pregnant or are currently pregnant. A lack of folate in pregnancy increases your baby's risk of being born with a neural tube defect. Asparagus provides 34 percent, or 134 micrograms, of your daily needs for folate per serving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women need at least 400 micrograms of folate per day. If you do not consume enough folate in your diet, you will need to take a supplement.
Asparagus also contains other key nutrients your body needs daily. It is a good source of potassium, providing 400 milligrams per serving, and a significant source of thiamin and vitamin B-6, providing at least 10 percent or more of your daily needs. White asparagus, while still a healthy option, has lower amounts of thiamin. Another beneficial nutrient, rutin, which aids in the strengthening of your capillary walls, is found in asparagus, as is glutathione, an antioxidant that helps to prevent cell damage.
Ways to Enjoy Asparagus
Enjoy versatile asparagus steamed in the microwave or on the stove top. Asparagus can also be baked in the oven or grilled. Even raw asparagus can be a tasty treat. Try adding asparagus tips to your cheese and crackers for an appetizing snack. Other creative ways to enjoy asparagus are by adding it to omelets, soups, pasta dishes or salads.
- California Asparagus Commission: Frequently Asked Questions
- Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board: Nutrition Information
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Asparagus, Cooked, Boiled, Drained
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Facts About Folic Acid
- Produce for Better Health Foundation: Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Asparagus