Top 5 Health Benefits of Asparagus + Nutrition Info and Fun FactsWritten by Christine Sexton, MPH, RD
Asparagus is a tender green vegetable that can add a lot of variety to your diet. Asparagus makes a great snack raw, a nice side steamed, and can even be added to smoothies and juices.
Asparagus is popular in the spring and is best eaten before the stems get too thick.
In addition to adding variety to your diet, asparagus is also extremely nutritious being a great source of vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, iron, vitamin C, and fiber. These nutrients are what lend asparagus most of their health benefits.
Asparagus Health Benefits
1. Asparagus may improve brain healthAsparagus is a top source of folate, a B vitamin that is crucial for proper brain development and function. A study in older Americans showed that those with adequate levels of folate and vitamin B12 did better on test of cognitive function and response speed (1). Animal studies have shown that extracts from asparagus help protect learning and memory, and may prevent cognitive decline in diseases like Alzheimer’s (2).
2. Asparagus is extremely rich in vitamin KOne cup of asparagus contains 70% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K. Vitamin K has many important functions – including for normal blood clotting, insulin function, and bone health (3). In addition, research suggests that getting enough vitamin K is important for cardiovascular health and may help prevent hardening of arteries (4, 5).
3. Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin AVitamin A is important for healthy skin, good vision, and a healthy immune system (6). In population studies, people who get plenty of vitamin A in their diets are at lower risk of developing cancer than those who get lower amounts of the vitamin (7). One cup of asparagus provides 20% of the recommended daily value for vitamin A.
4. Asparagus is high in antioxidantsGreen asparagus contains many antioxidants, including flavonoids, vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E (8). Antioxidants protect health by attacking harmful free radicals. If left unchecked, free radicals may lead to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and vision loss (9).
5. Asparagus is a good source of fiberOne cup of asparagus provides 11% of the daily value (DV) for fiber, which is more than spinach or broccoli (10). Eating foods with plenty of fiber can help with weight management, and can even lower cholesterol levels (11).
Nutrient Info For Asparagus
Serving size: 1 cup rawTop 10 Nutrients by %DV
- Vitamin K70% DV
- Vitamin A20% DV
- Vitamin B9 (Folate)17% DV
- Iron16% DV
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)13% DV
- Copper13% DV
- Vitamin C13% DV
- Fiber11% DV
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)11% DV
- Manganese11% DV
|Vitamin A, IU||1013IU||20%|
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database - Release 28.
See the complete nutrition facts with over 150 nutrients, or the nutrition facts comparison of Asparagus vs other foods.
Asparagus Fun Facts
- Asparagus is believed to have originated from parts of Russia, the Mediterranean region, and the British Isles (12).
- The early Romans were the first to cultivate asparagus. They used it for food and medicinal purposes (12).
- California and Michigan are the top two producers of asparagus in the United States (13, 14).
- Asparagus grows wild along roadsides and railroad tracks over a large part of the country (15). It is the only common vegetable to do that!
- To keep asparagus fresh cut off their ends and place them in water. Asparagus is a flower, so store them the same way you would keep a bouquet of flowers! If you live in a hot climate, you can also store asparagus in the fridge in a zip lock bag. Wrap wet paper towel around the stems as well. Stored this way asparagus should stay fresh for 7-10 days.
- Some people may experience a strong odor in their urine after eating asparagus. This is because of an inability to break down an enzyme called asparagin, which is completely harmless.
Data Sources and References
- Folate and vitamin B-12 status in relation to anemia, macrocytosis, and cognitive impairment in older Americans in the age of folic acid fortification.
- Aqueous extracts from asparagus stems prevent memory impairments in scopolamine-treated mice.
- The health benefits of vitamin K.
- The Role of Vitamin K Status in Cardiovascular Health: Evidence from Observational and Clinical Studies
- Association between circulating vitamin K1 and coronary calcium progression in community-dwelling adults: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
- Office of Dietary Supplements on Vitamin A
- Vitamin A, Cancer Treatment and Prevention: The New Role of Cellular Retinol Binding Proteins
- Antiradical capacity and polyphenol composition of asparagus spears varieties cultivated under different sunlight conditions.
- NIH Antioxidants in Depth
- Nutrition Facts Comparison of Asparagus vs Spinach vs Broccoli
- Lipid Lowering with Soluble Dietary Fiber.
- Penn State Extension on Asparagus Production
- University of California Agricultural Resources
- Michigan Asparagus
- University of Illinois Extension