Asparagus benefits: is asparagus good for you?

Niaef
Niaef
Niaef
Niaef

I studied Biology and Horticultural Science. I love plants that grow in the wild and in gardens, especially those that are edible. In fact, my favourite pastime is visiting forests and city parks to see which useful plants they hide - you just need to know how to spot the ones that are valuable in the kitchen.
My passion for foraging also pairs perfectly with my second hobby: cooking!

Favourite fruits: figs, persimmons and juneberries
Favourite vegetables: pumpkin, savoy cabbage and shallots

What are the health benefits of asparagus? How do white, green and purple asparagus varieties differ in terms of nutrients? Find out about all the benefits of eating asparagus here.

Peppered green asparagus with oil
Depending on the type of asparagus, the compounds within vary [Photo: Alexander Prokopenko/ Shutterstock.com]

Early civilisations valued asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) for its medicinal properties. Nowadays, it is hailed as a great weight loss vegetable as it is rich in minerals and low in calories. So, what exactly are the benefits of eating asparagus? Find out about asparagus’ nutritional value, which variety is the healthiest and who can eat it without any problems.

Asparagus benefits

All asparagus varieties are low in calories and rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium, iron and phosphorus. It also has lots of amino acids, including arginine and aspartic acid, which support kidney function.

Asparagus side dish with fish
Asparagus is often served as a low-calorie side dish [Photo: Timolina/ Shutterstock.com]

Is green, white or purple asparagus healthier?

The types of asparagus differ in terms of their vitamin content and secondary plant compounds. The following section explains the differences between white, green and purple asparagus.

White asparagus

White asparagus is grown underground and is very popular in Germany and Switzerland. The farmers cover up the spears with mounds of earth to ensure that they do not see daylight until the asparagus harvest. Most asparagus varieties can be grown as white asparagus. However, special, high-yielding varieties which produce exclusively white asparagus have been bred for commercial cultivation. If exposed to sunlight, these varieties do not produce the green pigment chlorophyll, but rather the reddish-purple plant pigment anthocyanin, which can lend them a slightly bitter, undesirable flavour.

White asparagus with Hollandaise sauce
The lack of light makes white asparagus less nutritious [Photo: hlphoto/ Shutterstock.com]

Green asparagus

Green asparagus spears are harvested once they reach 10 to 20 cm above ground. Low-anthocyanin varieties that taste mild are suitable for growing as green asparagus. Green asparagus is considered healthier than white asparagus, as it is rich in vitamins C, E, K and beta-carotene.

Green asparagus on a plate
With plenty of light, green asparagus forms various vitamins [Photo: hlphoto/ Shutterstock.com]

Purple asparagus

Originally, purple asparagus varieties were mainly found in Italy. With its slightly sweet, nutty flavour, purple asparagus has a pleasantly mild flavour. Like green asparagus, purple asparagus is grown above ground and develops violet anthocyanins from being exposed to sunlight. Anthocyanin is also a valuable antioxidant that helps the body to fight off free radicals. In addition to these secondary plant compounds, purple asparagus contains all the minerals and vitamins found in green asparagus.

Purple asparagus on a cloth
The anthocyanin in purple asparagus gives it its tangy, nutty flavour [Photo: Brent Hofacker/ Shutterstock.com]

Conclusion: Purple asparagus is considered the healthiest of all asparagus varieties, partly because it can be eaten raw. Like purple asparagus, green asparagus is rich in vitamins. To get the most out of these vitamins, be careful when cooking green and purple asparagus. Excessive heat destroys many of the vitamins. When cooking asparagus, it is best to steam it. In contrast to boiling or simmering, steaming does not wipe out any of the asparagus’ nutritious components.

Summary: Is green, white or purple asparagus healthier?

  • Green and purple asparagus have more vitamins.
  • White asparagus is also healthy. Like the other varieties, it contains plenty of minerals, is low in calories and supports kidney function.

Tip: Asparagus is hungry for nitrogen. So, when growing asparagus in your own garden, be sure to fertilise it properly to ensure it develops properly and is packed with nutrients. Our Plantura All Purpose Plant Food is good for this. With its balanced NPK ratio, this fertiliser gives asparagus plants all the nutrients it needs for healthy growth.

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Who should not eat asparagus?

The nutrients and antioxidants in asparagus are great for everyone, including babies, small children and elderly people. However, as the vegetable is quite fibrous, it can pose a choking hazard. When serving these age groups asparagus, either cook the asparagus until it is very soft, chop it up finely, or make it into porridge. However, do take into account that babies, small children and the elderly should not eat too much asparagus, as it has a strong dehydrating effect. It is also perfectly safe for pregnant women to consume this nutritious vegetable. Breastfeeding women should bear in mind that eating asparagus often changes the taste of breast milk, which some babies may find unpleasant. Additionally, people who have a high level of uric acid in their blood, or those with renal insufficiency or an inflammatory kidney disease, should not eat too much asparagus or even avoid asparagus altogether. It contains large quantities of purines, which our bodies turn into uric acid.

Jars of baby food
Made into porridge or puree, asparagus can also be enjoyed by young children [Photo: New Africa/ Shutterstock.com]

Now that you know more about asparagus’ benefits, get tips and instructions on growing asparagus in your own garden in our in-depth article.

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