We are currently in the middle of the asparagus season. Some people love them and could eat them every day and others don’t like them at all. In our household asparagus are regularly on the menu. We love them in all kind of different ways. They are a superfood and when they are fresh and home grown they are amazing,
What are asparagus?
Asparagus come from the asparagus plant, a perennial that can become 10 years old. It starts with a seed that grows into a plant over a period of 2 years at which time you can, during a period of about 2 weeks, harvest the spears. When the plant becomes 3 years old you can harvest the spears during a period of 4 weeks and after that the harvest period extends to 6 until 8 weeks. After about 10 years asparagus fatigue arises and the arable farmer starts again on a new piece of land from the beginning … a seed …
What types are there?
There are 3 different colours of asparagus: white, green and purple. The green ones are the most common ones in the UK while in Holland the white ones are very popular. The difference in colour is due to the fact that the white asparagus are grown under the earth and therefor don’t get any sunlight. The green ones are grown above ground and produce chlorophyll under the influence of sunlight, resulting in the green colour. The least common asparagus are the purple ones.
How are they grown?
The seeds are sown on beds that are initially covered with black plastic. After 2 years the harvesting starts and the stems are stung by hand. If there are a few tips above ground, they are covered with soil again until there are so many tips above ground that it is worth harvesting. Around the tip of the plant some earth is scratched away and with a special asparagus trowel the asparagus are harvested, about 22 cm long. They are immediately placed in dark boxes to preserve their beautiful white colour. The harvesting process is very intensive and that explains the high price. Did you know that the longest asparagus ever grown was more than 3 meters!
How do you prepare them?
White asparagus must be peeled. You wash them first and then peel them from approximately 2 cm under the tip to the bottom. Then you cut about 2 cm from the bottom. You can cut the spear into pieces or leave them whole. If you cook them, boil them together with the peel and tips for more flavour. Cook them al dente. Pour the surplus water into a pan. This can be used as a base for a delicious soup. If you want to stir-fry, steam or grill the asparagus, use the peels and tips to make a delicious soup. The green and purple asparagus do not need to be peeled. Remove the tough part of the stalk by bending the asparagus until it snaps and discard. Again you can use the discarded bits to make a soup. Both green and purple asparagus can be eaten as a snack.
What are the medicinal properties?
Asparagus are very healthy. Especially the green and the purple ones as they contain more vitamins due to the influence of the sunlight. Eaten raw they are healthier than cooked. The Latin name for this special vegetable is: Asparagus officinalis, which means: medicinal. Asparagus contain a substance called, asparagine, which mainly occurs in the skin and the head. Below the health benefits at a glance:
- Asparagus contain a lot of fibre which is very good for a healthy intestinal flora.
- In addition, they contain moisture what together with the fibre ensures a good bowel movement and can help prevent constipation.
- The fibres can help protect the body against colon cancer.
- They have a positive effect on the immune system and are anti-inflammatory.
- Asparagus are rich in glutathione, a strong detoxifying antioxidant with medicinal properties that prevent aging, among other things.
- They support good kidney function and work as a diuretic. This allows them to contribute to healthy blood pressure.
- Because they excrete both moisture and excess salt, they can help prevent kidney stones.
- Because of the anti-inflammatory effect and a regulating effect on insulin production, they can also help prevent diabetes type 2.
- They can help to alleviate the effects of a hangover due to the amino acids and minerals.
- Asparagus contains folic acid, which is important for women who are pregnant and can help prevent the baby having an open spine.
- Folic acid can also have an anti-depressant effect because there is a better supply of blood to the brain and an improved production of the happy substances dopamine and serotonin.
- Asparagus can contribute to a healthy weight and a healthy cholesterol level.
- They can contribute to good bone health because of the vitamin K. Vitamin K improves the absorption of calcium and helps to reduce the secretion of calcium through the urine.
- Because asparagus contain iron they also contribute to strong and elastic bones.
- It is a vegetable that will help weight loss as it contains few calories and yet a high content of minerals.
What are the disadvantages?
They are super healthy, but …. there is a smell to it! Have you ever noticed that when you had asparagus, your urine can smell very different? The smell is caused by the presence of sulphur-containing substances, which are quickly converted into volatile sulphur-containing compounds in the body after consumption. They give the smell, which, incidentally, is not the same for everyone. Some people do not even smell it at all. This may be because they do not have the enzymes that convert the sulphur-containing substances or their sense of smell does not work properly. Both aspects appear to be genetic. It is not good or bad … it’s just the way it is.
Which is healthier?
The white asparagus are sometimes called white gold or the queen of vegetables. People often think that they are genetically manipulated because they are so beautifully white. Nothing is further from the truth. They simply miss the influence of the sun. Because green and purple asparagus do grow in sunlight, they contain more vitamins and are therefore healthier. In addition, raw asparagus are healthier than prepared ones. If you still want to cook them, then briefly stir-fry them or boil al dente.
Eat asparagus to stay healthy?
You would almost think: if I eat asparagus, I will stay healthy. That is not quite true. If you regularly have asparagus on the menu and you have an unhealthy lifestyle, you will not suddenly become healthier. A healthy lifestyle is always the basis and asparagus can naturally support your health. They are not for sale all year round. The season runs from April to June. So what do you do for the remaining months to support your health? Are you interested in a healthy lifestyle where you will clean your body on cellular level? Have a look at the EaWright Plan (www.eatwright.co.uk).
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To better Health,