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Eating Well with Whole Foods: Asparagus

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

The advent of spring marks the arrival of asparagus. The tender and succulent green spears of asparagus have long been considered a delicacy since ancient times. A member of the lily family, asparagus is a perennial. The spears we commonly purchase are actually the roots from an underground crown that takes up to three years to begin producing shoots. Once they do, they often produce for up to twenty years! Of the more than 300 varieties of asparagus, only twenty are edible. Although vibrant green is the most popular color of this delicious vegetable, asparagus also comes in white and purple. The majority of the commercially available asparagus is grown in the United States, Mexico, Peru, France and Spain.

Due to its high amount of potassium and relatively low amount of sodium, asparagus is a natural diuretic and is good for spring cleanses. It is often used to treat problems involving swelling, such as arthritis and rheumatism, and for PMS-related water retention. Asparagus contains inulin, a special kind of carbohydrate that helps promote healthy gut flora. Chock full of folate, asparagus may be particularly beneficial to expecting mothers because of the B-vitamin’s role in healthy cell division. Although folate is widely available in green leafy vegetables like asparagus, many people are lacking in this important vitamin making it the most common deficiency in the world, which has been linked to various birth defects. Folate also helps promote a healthy heart. Just one serving of asparagus supplies nearly two-thirds of the recommended intake of folate.

When shopping for asparagus, look for stalks that are rounded and thin stems with deep green or purplish closed tips. For best flavor, eat asparagus within 48 hours after purchasing. Wrap the ends in a damp paper towel and store in the back of the refrigerator away from light, air, or heat which destroys folate. Asparagus is simple to prepare and can be enjoyed hot or cold. While it is not necessary to peel, you should cut off the base and rinse under cool water to remove any residue before cooking. Be sure not to overcook asparagus in order to prevent it from becoming soggy. Test it for tenderness by pricking it with a fork. Asparagus is delicious steamed and served with a basic vinaigrette dressing and a squirt of lemon. Try chopping it into salads for an added crunch or roasting it along with other flavorful vegetables like mushrooms and squash.

Garlic-Sesame Asparagus

¼ cup rice vinegar

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 lb asparagus

sesame seeds

Combine rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic in a small bowl and set aside.

Cut off ends of asparagus. Steam asparagus until tender and drain. Pour the garlic-sesame mixture over asparagus. Toss well and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Enjoy as a healthy snack or as a main meal with salmon.





Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com , email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com,  or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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