If you're used to asparagus being green, the white variety may look downright creepy. Its broad, firm stalks are the pale color of fresh cream because they lack the green pigments of conventional asparagus. However, the white veggie can be just as nutritious, although its health properties do vary slightly.
One serving of asparagus is equivalent to about two-thirds cup or five large spears. For white asparagus, that quantity contains 20 calories, no fat, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of natural sugar. The same amount of green asparagus offers 25 calories, 2.75 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbs, 2.7 grams of fiber and 2.4 grams of natural sugar.
Both white and green varieties of asparagus have beneficial health properties. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, eating more of any veggie can decrease your risk of chronic health conditions such as stroke, heart attack, high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney stones, bone loss and obesity. The healthy compounds in green asparagus differ from those found in the white vegetable, however. According to a 2005 "Food Chemistry" study published by Washington State University researchers, green asparagus is a rich source of the antioxidants rutin, ascorbic acid, tocopherol, glutathione and ferulic acid. White asparagus also contains antioxidants including phenolic acids and flavonoids; however, according to "Acta Horticulturae," white asparagus spears have an overall lower antioxidant content than green spears.
The way you prepare asparagus spears of either color also makes a difference in their final nutritional content. Both spears have refuse in their woody stems, for example, but buying and preparing equal quantities of white and green asparagus may give you fewer calories with the white variety because it needs to be peeled before you eat it. All asparagus is naturally fat-free, but keep in mind that adding a tablespoon of butter to either variety can boost the nutrition total by 100 calories and 11.5 grams of fat.
White asparagus isn't as common in North America as the green variety, but if you ever do see it in stores, don't pass it by under the assumption that it's less healthy because it isn't a green vegetable. High levels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients are present in both varieties of asparagus, making either one a healthy choice for disease prevention and balance in your diet.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Nutrient Data Laboratory; Asparagus, Raw, 127 grams
- LIVESTRONG.com MyPlate: Calories in Roland White Asparagus Spears
- ChooseMyPlate.gov; Why Is It Important to Eat Vegetables?; June 2011
- "Food Chemistry"; Antioxidant Activity and Quality of Asparagus...; Ting Sun; October 2005
- "Acta Horticulturae"; Antioxidants From Asparagus Spears -- Phenolics; R. Guillen; January 2008