The Health Benefits of Asparagus: Why You Should Definitely Eat More of the Mighty Green

Whether you enjoy it wrapped, grilled, or sauteed, asparagus is easy to incorporate into your diet. Often served at steakhouses or baked into quiche, incorporated into pasta, or shaved onto a salad, this delicious vegetable is a flavor and nutrition powerhouse!

Besides being low in calories and high in fiber, asparagus has an array of health benefits ranging from strengthening your immune system to being a rich source of antioxidants. In fact, asparagus contains a powerful antioxidant known as glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. You can find this same antioxidant in foods like avocado, kale, and brussels sprout (sounds like a delicious salad recipe to me!).

Fresh asparagus also contains fair amounts of antioxidant vitamins, such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, all of which aid in strengthening your body's ability to fight infectious disease while warding off free radicals, which can cause painful inflammation.

If you suffer from edema or water retention, asparagus may bring some relief. It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic. By increasing the frequency in urination, you not only release fluid but also help your body get rid of excess salts. This can play a positive role in helping to manage high blood pressure as well as other heart-related diseases and conditions.

Asparagus is a perennial plant that's part of the Asparagaceae family, which also includes onions and garlic. If you're wondering how this green spear also pops up white at your local farmer's market or grocery store, there's a simple explanation. Plants need sunlight (which allows photosynthesis to take place) in order to turn green. White spears are simply denied sunlight when grown, as they get covered in a thick layer of mulch and dark plastic so that no sunlight is able to reach them. There really is no difference between the two from a nutritional or taste perspective. (You may also find purple asparagus at some point, which is smaller and fruitier in flavor).

And one more thing. Yes, I'm going there: Asparagus in your urine contains sulfurous compounds that are associated with a condition known as specific anosmia. This is why some people – but not all – say their urine smells after eating asparagus. Studies show that some of us have a genetic inability to smell certain odors.

Now that you know all about the health benefits of asparagus, check out these recipes for more ideas on how to incorporate them in your meals!

Asparagus, Leek, and Gruyere Quiche

Bibb Salad with Radishes and Asparagus

Asparagus-and-Lemon Risotto