It is a very surprising observation that the French have among the least number of heart attacks when compared to their western counterparts. One study felt that this was because of their high consumption of red wine. Researchers were not sure, if this was the main reason and were cautious in their conclusions, although tipplers all over the world were very pleased with these research results. Others speculated that compared to Europeans and Americans, the French set apart time for a luxurious and elaborately time consuming lunch and their relaxed lifestyle could be contributory to the lesser rates of coronary artery disease. One other overlooked fact is that the French cuisine is rich with generous amounts of asparagus in their dishes. It makes me wonder if asparagus was also contributing to the good health of the French?
What is Asparagus?
Asparagus is a perennial garden plant belonging to the Lily family (Liliaceae). Of the 300 varieties of asparagus, only 20 are edible. Asparagus has been prized as an epicurean delight and prized for its medicinal properties for over 2000 years
Today, asparagus is cultivated in most subtropical and temperate parts of the world with the majority of commercially available asparagus grown in United States, Mexico, Peru, France, Spain and other Mediterranean countries.
The nutritional value of Asparagus:
Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, the B vitamin folate, vitamin C, vitamin A. Asparagus is a very good source of numerous B vitamins – including vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6 – as well as dietary fiber, manganese, copper, phosphorous, potassium and protein.
Some health benefits of Asparagus:
- It is rich in vitamin K and Folic acid. This is said to prevent birth defects in the fetus, such as neural tube defects and spina bifida.
- It is great for the heart because it has anti-oxidant properties; it lowers cholesterol levels and wards off high blood pressure. It also reduces the homocysteine levels and thus prevents heart attacks.
- It is useful in women with menstrual cramps and infertility.
- It is considered to be a diuretic and removes the water retention in PMS.
- It is said to detoxify the body and improve digestion.
- It eliminates warts.
- It has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.
- Prevents recurrent bladder infections.
- It has aphrodisiac properties (Is that why the French are into it?).
- It has ant-cancer properties.
- It has been used in chronic fatigue syndrome.
- It is said to prevent multiple sclerosis.
- It is said to limit hair loss and even fight toothaches.
It contains purine and people who suffer from gout and kidney stones are advised not to consume it.
- It can make urine smell and that disturbs certain individuals.
This yummy little vegetable is one of our healthiest foods. Not only does it have a small amount of calories per serving but it also provides many protective nutrients. Many doctors have cited that the carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C, and selenium protect our bodies against cancer and heart disease. And yes, asparagus has all of these and more.
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