Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables in existence. It leads nearly all produce items in the wide array of nutrients it supplies in significant amounts for a healthy diet.
Asparagus is the leading supplier among vegetables of folic acid. A 5.3 ounce serving provides 60% of the recommended daily allowance for folacin which is necessary for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease. Folacin has been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, that cause paralysis and death in 2,500 babies each year. Its wealth of nutrients, fiber and very low sodium and calorie content make asparagus a nutritionally wise choice for today's health-conscious consumer.
- Low in calories, only 20 per 5.3 oz. serving, less than 4 calories per spear.
- Contains no fat or cholesterol.
- Very low in sodium.
- A good source of potassium. (1)
- A source of fiber (3 grams per 5.3 oz. serving). (2)
- An excellent source of folacin. (3)
- A significant source of thiamin. (4)
- A significant source of vitamin B6. (4)
- One of the richest sources of rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls.
- Contains glutathione (GSH). (5)
(1) A good source provides 25% or more of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA).
(2) A source of fiber provides 2 grams or more per serving. A good source contains 5 grams or more, an excellent source contains 8 grams or more.
(3) An excellent source means 40% or more of the USRDA (asparagus contains 60% of the USRDA for folacin). Folacin is a B vitamin which helps in the duplication of cells for growth and repair of the body, and in blood cell reproduction in the bone marrow. Adequate folacin intake can prevent miscarriage and neural tube defects (NTDs). Folacin helps in the formation of hemoglobin, as well. The United States Public Health Service recommends that: All women of childbearing age in the United States who are capable of becoming pregnant should consume 0.4 mg of folacin per day for the purpose of reducing their risk of having a pregnancy affected with spina bifida or other NTDs.
(4) A significant source means 10% or more of the USRDA.
(5) Glutathione (GSH) is one of the most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants found within the body. GSH is used to detoxify carcinogenic electrophiles and protect cells from oxidative damage, thereby preventing damage to DNA and other macromolecules. Thus, GSH acts as an initial and primary defense against chemicals that can cause cell transformation and/or cell death. Asparagus had the highest GSH content of the several foods tested.