The fleshy green spears of asparagus are both succulent and tender and have been considered a delicacy since ancient times.
Asparagus is a perennial, an almost leafless member of the lily family. The spears we buy in the store are actually the shoots from an underground crown. It takes up to 3 years for crowns to develop enough to begin producing shoots, but once they do, they can produce for up to 20 years.
Asparagus is densely nutritious. It is a high source of folic acid so is great for pregnant women. It is also important for healthy cardiovascular function.
Asparagus is a natural diuretic as it contains potassium and the amino acid asparagine. It is also a good source of Vitamin A, C and contains some tryptophan - the neurotransmitter that is converted to serotonin (the mood and sleep enhancer).
Asparagus contains the prebiotic inulin, so is great for mainitaining healthy gut flora as it stimulates healthy growth of the probiotics.
Asparagus contains purine which is broken down into uric acid. The health condition called "gout" and the formation of kidney stones from uric acid are two examples of uric acid related problems that can be related to excessive intake of purine containing foods.Those with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid intake of purine containing foods such as asparagus.
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