Goodness Of Asparagus

Words: Team THINKWELLNESS360

There are two basic varieties of asparagus, white and green. The latter is the only variety cultivated on a commercial scale in the United States, whereas the former is much-favoured in Europe. White asparagus is produced by banking soil against the plant to keep out sunlight, which otherwise would turn the stalks green. There is also a not common variety — violet — with pinkish purple shoots and tips.

Origin & Botanical Facts 

Asparagus, according to The Encyclopedia of Foods, was first cultivated in Greece about 2,500 years ago. In fact, the name asparagus is Greek for ‘stalk’ or ‘shoot.’ The ancient Greeks believed that asparagus had medicinal qualities and could cure toothaches and bee stings. The cultivation of asparagus was adopted by the Romans, who carried it throughout Europe and Great Britain. From there, its popularity spread to the rest of the world. Traditionally, asparagus was a Northern Hemisphere crop, but today it is cultivated worldwide. The United States is the world’s largest supplier of asparagus.

The asparagus plant is a perennial, but requires three seasons to mature. In its first season, a crown forms with a 6-inch root. In its second season, the crown develops into a fern.

Asparagus can be harvested in its third season, but the plant does not reach its prime until 6-8 years of age. At peak age, an asparagus field can yield up to two tons per acre. Because its growing season is short, and it must be harvested by hand, asparagus can be expensive.

Asparagus appears in American markets as early as February, when the first California crops are harvested, but the peak season in the West is from late April to late May and, elsewhere in the United States, from May through July. Throughout the rest of the year, fresh asparagus may be available from Mexico and South America.

Uses 

Asparagus stalks of similar width with tightly closed tips should be selected. Young asparagus is thinner and generally more tender. Fresh asparagus should be stored in the refrigerator with the cut ends immersed in water — they should be used within a day, or two.

Fresh asparagus is best steamed, or microwaved, until just crisp-tender. Steaming should be done quickly, with the spears in an upright position to heat the stalks uniformly.

Asparagus is a good source of vitamin C. It is also an excellent source of folate. It contains glutathione too, the antioxidant that promotes good skin health and immune system function.

Glutathione is an important antioxidant in our body. It helps fight free radicals — molecules that can damage our body’s cells. It also plays a key role in many chemical reactions in our body. It detoxifies chemicals that our body creates naturally, including pollutants and certain medications, or drugs.

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