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The name for asparagus, a member of the lily family, comes from the Greek word meaning “shoot” or “sprout.” The fleshy green spears of asparagus are both succulent and tender and have been considered a delicacy since ancient times and used to make medicine.
In ancient times, asparagus was renowned as an aphrodisiac. This succulent, savory vegetable contains a stimulating blend of nutrients, making this member of the lily family a fantastic food for your health. Some of the benefits are discussed below.
Asparagus is popular as an anti-inflammatory food because it provides a truly unique combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients. Among these anti-inflammatory nutrients are asparagus saponins, including asparanin A, sarsasapogenin, protodioscin, and diosgenin. Other anti-inflammatory nutrients in asparagus include the flavonoids quercetin, rutin, kaempferol and isorhamnetin.
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Alongside of these anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, asparagus provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin E, and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. In addition to the antioxidant nutrients above, this much-loved vegetable may also contain a valuable amount of the antioxidant glutathione (GSH). GSH is one of the body's best-studied antioxidants; it consists of three amino acids — glutamic acid, glycine, and cysteine — combined into one molecule. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, which are found in great quantities in asparagus, are typically associated with decreased risk of cancers, chronic health problems including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
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Asparagus is a pro digestive supportive food because of its inulin content. Like chicory root and Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus contains significant amounts of the nutrient inulin. Inulin is a unique type of carbohydrate called a polyfructan. Unlike most other carbs, inulin doesn't get broken down in the first segments of our digestive tract. It passes undigested all the way to our large intestine, where it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria (like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) for better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy, and lower risk of colon cancer. Asparagus contains a valuable amount of this unique carb and can help support our digestive health in this unique way. Alongside of its unusual inulin content, asparagus is rich in fiber and also contains a noteworthy amount of protein (about 4-5 grams per cup). Both fiber and protein help stabilize our digestion and keep food moving through us at the desirable rate.
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Asparagus intake helps to reduce heart disease and type 2 diabetes because of its unique blend of nutrients. First is the amazing B-vitamin content of asparagus such as folic acid, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2 as well as niacin, choline, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, they are critical for healthy blood sugar management. They also regulate the production of homocysteine, so that it does not reach excessive levels in our blood and poses risk for the heart.
Secondly, asparagus provides us with about 3 grams of dietary fiber per cup, including more than 1 gram of soluble fiber. Intake of soluble fiber lowers our risk of heart disease, and our risk of type 2 diabetes is significantly lowered if the intake of dietary fiber increases.
Finally, it is the anti-inflammatory/antioxidant factor, which prevents these chronic diseases to evolve due to excessive inflammation and oxidative stress.
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Chronic, excessive inflammation and chronic oxidative stress are risk factors for a variety of cancer types. These symptoms are related to deficient dietary intake of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients, which are especially plentiful in asparagus. Asparagus and asparagus extracts is known to change the metabolic activity of cancer cell types, thereby fighting the disease to eliminate it or overall preventing it.
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Asparagus is extremely low in calories at about 20 per serving (five spears), has no fat, and is low in sodium. It can be eaten raw or cooked. A well-cared-for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted. The larger the diameter, the better the quality!
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