Asparagus, officially known as Asparagus officinalis, is a member of the lily family.
This popular vegetable comes in a variety of colors, including green, white and purple. It’s used in dishes around the world, including frittatas, pastas and stir-fries.
Asparagus is also low in calories and packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
This article uncovers 7 health benefits of asparagus, all supported by science.
Asparagus is low in calories but boasts an impressive nutrient profile.
In fact, just half a cup (90 grams) of cooked asparagus contains (1):
- Calories: 20
- Protein: 2.2 grams
- Fat: 0.2 grams
- Fiber: 1.8 grams
- Vitamin C: 12% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 57% of the RDI
- Folate: 34% of the RDI
- Potassium: 6% of the RDI
- Phosphorous: 5% of the RDI
- Vitamin E: 7% of the RDI
Asparagus also possesses small amounts of other micronutrients, including iron, zinc and riboflavin.
In addition, asparagus is high in folate, a nutrient that is vital for a healthy pregnancy and many important processes in the body, including cell growth and DNA formation (3).
Summary Asparagus is a low-calorie vegetable that is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, especially folate and vitamins A, C and K.
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.
What’s more, purple asparagus contains powerful pigments called anthocyanins, which give the vegetable its vibrant color and have antioxidant effects in the body (14).
Eating asparagus along with other fruits and vegetables can provide your body with a range of antioxidants to promote good health.
Summary Asparagus provides a good source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants prevent the accumulation of harmful free radicals and may reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Dietary fiber is essential for good digestive health.
Just half a cup of asparagus contains 1.8 grams of fiber, which is 7% of your daily needs.
Asparagus is particularly high in insoluble fiber, which adds bulk to stool and supports regular bowel movements.
It also contains a small amount of soluble fiber, which dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract.
Soluble fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in the gut, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus (21).
Eating asparagus as part of a fiber-rich diet is an excellent way to help meet your fiber needs and keep your digestive system healthy.
Summary As a good source of fiber, asparagus promotes regularity and digestive health and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, also known as vitamin B9.
Just half a cup of asparagus provides adults with 34% of their daily folate needs and pregnant women with 22% of their daily needs (1).
Folate is an essential nutrient that helps form red blood cells and produce DNA for healthy growth and development. It’s especially important during the early stages of pregnancy to ensure the healthy development of the baby.
In fact, adequate folate is so vital during pre-pregnancy and early pregnancy that folate supplements are recommended to ensure women meet their requirements.
Summary Asparagus is high in folate (vitamin B9), an important nutrient that helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy.
High blood pressure affects more than 1.3 billion people worldwide and is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke (29).
Asparagus is a good source of potassium, providing 6% of your daily requirement in a half-cup serving.
What’s more, research in rats with high blood pressure suggests that asparagus may have other blood pressure-lowering properties. In one study, rats were fed either a diet with 5% asparagus or a standard diet without asparagus.
After 10 weeks, the rats on the asparagus diet had 17% lower blood pressure than the rats on the standard diet (33).
Researchers believed this effect was due to an active compound in asparagus that causes blood vessels to dilate.
However, human studies are needed to determine whether this active compound has the same effect in humans.
In any case, eating more potassium-rich vegetables, such as asparagus, is a great way to help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
Summary Asparagus contains potassium, a mineral that can help lower high blood pressure. In addition, animal research has found that asparagus may contain an active compound that dilates blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.
Currently, no studies have tested the effects of asparagus on weight loss.
However, it has a number of properties that could potentially help you lose weight.
First, it’s very low in calories, with only 20 calories in half a cup. This means you can eat a lot of asparagus without taking in a lot of calories.
Summary Asparagus has a number of features that make it a weight-loss friendly food. It’s low in calories, high in water and rich in fiber.
In addition to being nutritious, asparagus is delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet.
It can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, grilling, steaming, roasting and sautéing. You can also purchase canned asparagus, which is precooked and ready to eat.
Furthermore, it’s extremely affordable and widely available at most grocery stores.
When shopping for fresh asparagus, look for firm stems and tight, closed tips.
Summary Asparagus is a delicious and versatile vegetable that’s easy to incorporate into your diet. Add it to salads, frittatas, omelets and stir-fries.
Asparagus is a nutritious and tasty addition to any diet. It’s low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and K.
Additionally, eating asparagus has a number of potential health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, healthy pregnancy outcomes and lower blood pressure.
Plus, it’s inexpensive, easy to prepare and makes a delicious addition to a number of recipes.