August 03, 2015

Asparagus can help to lift your spirits and reduce the risk of birth defects

Asparagus, the green spear-shaped vegetable that arrives in grocery stores at the beginning of spring, is packed with a wealth of health benefits, making it a good choice to add to your diet. One cup of asparagus contains only 40 calories and has a very low glycemic impact, which makes it a great addition for anyone who wants to reduce spikes in blood sugar levels.

What are the benefits of eating asparagus?

One of the ingredients in asparagus, folate, has been shown to help in the reduction of depression symptoms. Folate works to prevent high levels of homocysteine from accumulating in the body. High levels of homocysteine can interfere with the ability for the brain to receive vital nutrients and hormones, including serotonin and dopamine. When these hormones are not able to reach the brain, symptoms of depression can worsen and sleep patterns can become disturbed.

A few stalks of the vegetable can also help to prevent birth defects, as four spears contribute close to one-quarter of the recommended daily allowance for folic acid. However, pregnant women aren't the only ones who can benefit from consuming folic acid, as the nutrient has been found to help with cell regeneration and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

Asparagus is just packed with health benefits:
  1. It’s loaded with nutrients: Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
  2. This herbaceous plant—along with avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts—is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. This is why eating asparagus may help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer, such as bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancers.
  3. Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, ranking among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This, according to preliminary research, may help slow the aging process. 
  4. Another anti-aging property of this delicious spring veggie is that it may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12—found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy—to help prevent cognitive impairment. In a study from Tufts University, older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12 performed better on a test of response speed and mental flexibility. (If you’re 50-plus, be sure you’re getting enough B12: your ability to absorb it decreases with age.)
  5. One more benefit of asparagus: It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema (an accumulation of fluids in the body's tissues) and those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.

Keep things regular with asparagus

High in both fiber and water content, asparagus can aid in preventing constipation, ensuring that the body is able to effectively remove toxins before they accumulate. Half a cup of asparagus tips provides close to two grams per serving while only containing 20 calories, making it a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

The high fiber content also contributes to the filling characteristic associated with the vegetable, making it a great vegetable choice to aid in weight loss goals. Diets that are high in fiber have been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension and obesity, reduce serum-cholesterol levels, and the development of various gastrointestinal diseases and colon cancer.

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