It’s springtime, and a vegetable many of us look forward to eating now is asparagus. The fact that it takes three long years for an asparagus bed to be ready for a season of harvesting is what might make it such a coveted vegetable.
Asparagus is an excellent prebiotic containing high levels of inulin (which is not the same as insulin). Prebiotics are fibrous food components that encourage healthy bacteria to flourish, and in the case of asparagus, especially bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. Read our reviews of Gut Balance Revolution and The Diet Myth: Why the Secret to Health and Weight Loss is Already in Your Gut.
It is also high in saponins, a type of phytonutrient shown to posses anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-cancer agents, and can reduce blood pressure (Gut Balance Revolution, p.117). The antioxidant properties of asparagus rival those of cruciferous vegetables due to high glutathione levels. According to Dr. Mullin of Johns Hopkins Medical School and Director of Integrative Nutrition Services at Johns Hopkins Hospital, “glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that reduces fat-promoting inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body” (Gut Balance Revolution, p.117).
Cooking: Steaming, stir-frying, or roasting on a sheet pan will all produce delightful results. I spread on a piece of parchment and brush with a bit of olive oil, or olive oil mixed with balsamic. Sprinkle with salt and roast for about 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees. During the last few minutes, you could add a few pinches of shredded parmesan or press some garlic cloves and toss the spears. Keep an eye on the asparagus so they don’t get overdone– cooking continues even after removing them from the oven.