The asparagus spears – get it? Weapon – spears? Anyway, these spears pack quite a punch when it comes to nutritional benefits and they have been doing so for over 4,000 years. It was declared a food of the gods by Pharaoh Ikhnaton and his wife Nefertiti and was well liked by the Greeks, Persians, and Babylonians.
Asparagus does take a bit of time, however, to grow into maturity. It is planted in the ground 3 years before it can be harvested for a full season. But, once it does start growing, it does so with gusto. A mature plant is harvested all season – approximately 90 days, and can sometimes grow 6 to 7 inches in one day.
Whenever I pick up some asparagus from the store, my husband always says, “I don’t like the green asparagus, I like white!” Obviously he is not aware that green and white asparagus come from the same plant. Sunlight is what causes the spears to turn green. When the spears puncture through the ground, dirt is piled on top of them to shield them from sunlight. They continue growing underground and when finally harvested the stalk is all white. FYI – purple asparagus comes from a completely different plant and if cooked for a prolonged period of time will turn green.
Asparagus is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac. Apparently there is an Arabian love manual from the 16th century that provided an asparagus recipe for the stimulation of erotic desires. I did some Googling, but couldn’t find the recipe. But I did find some scientific rational as to why it might have been considered as such. Asparagus contains high levels of vitamin E and foliate which are necessary for histamine production and histamine is related to easy sexual orgasm, both in men and women. Recommendations are that it be consumed over 3 consecutive days for the most powerful effects.
One cup of raw asparagus contains approximately 27 calories, 0 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. That same cup also provides 70% of your daily vitamin K needs, 20% of vitamin A, 17% of folate, 16% of iron, 13% of vitamin C, 13% of thiamin, and smaller amounts of vitamin E, niacin, vitamin B6, and potassium.
Here are some of the benefits indicated by the Juicing for health website.
Acidity, Blood: The high alkalinity of this wonder juice is effective in reducing the acidity of the blood and helps cleanses the tissues and muscles of waste.
Arthritis and Rheumatism: A unique phytochemical in asparagus that produces anti-inflammatory effect helps relieve arthritis and rheumatism.
Bowel movement: Consume asparagus regularly for its mild laxative effect and dietary fiber that provides for regular bowel movement.
Cancer: Asparagus is a prime source of anti-oxidant and glutathione that can help prevent the dreaded cancer.
Cataracts: The anti-oxidant and glutathione in asparagus prevents the progression of cataracts and other eye problems.
Diabetes/Hypoglycemia: The healthful minerals in asparagus juice make it an important diet for people who are controlling their blood sugar levels. However, it is not to be taken by people with advanced kidney diseases.
Diuretic: Asparagus is a wonderfully diuretic vegetable and its efficacy is more pronounced when it is taken in juice form.
Heart disease: Drink a small amount of asparagus juice mixed with raw honey three times a day daily to strengthen a weak or enlarged heart.
Kidney: The diuretic and alkaline properties of asparagus help prevent or dissolve kidney stones. It helps break up oxalic acid crystals formed in the kidney.
PMS symptoms: The diuretic effect of asparagus juice helps relieve premenstrual swelling and bloating. The magnesium in this wonder juice also help relieve irritability, fatigue, depression, etc.
Pregnant women: The high content of folate, calcium and other minerals in asparagus are important in reducing the risk of birth defects and low birth weight. The diuretic effect of the juice is also a big help in reducing water retention in pregnant women.
June 11 is Asparagus Day!