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April to May is the peak season for fresh asparagus. Considered a luxury the world over, asparagus has always been accompanied by a hefty price tag. Despite the price, this vegetable is worth a try, especially as it is available in local stores. Not only is it delicious, it is good for your health.

  • Good for the heart. Packed with fibre, low in sodium, fat and cholesterol, asparagus is a good nutritional choice for a healthy heart. Folate, a B complex vitamin essential for a healthy cardiovascular system, is found in abundance in asparagus. 
  • Good for blood sugar levels. The presence of certain nutrients such as vitamin B helps regulate blood sugar levels as they boost the body’s production of insulin; according to research, regular asparagus intake could prevent the onset of type II diabetes. 
  • Good for the digestive system. Asparagus is rich in inulin, a substance with prebiotic characteristics that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria associated with nutrient absorption in the large intestine. High fibre content also aids healthy digestion. 
  • Good for the bones. Asparagus contains several nutrients that play an important role in bone health; these include vitamins B1, B2, C, D, K and folate. Additionally, the antioxidant glutathione helps maintain healthy liver function which can thwart osteoarthritis and osteoporosis (connected to poor liver function). 
  • Good for foetal development. An excellent source of folate, the natural form of folic acid, asparagus is highly recommended for expectant mothers. Folate promotes proper development of embryonic and foetal nerve cells and prevents birth defects.

– Beenish Israr

The writer is a PhD scholar, studying Human Nutrition at University of Reading, UK. She is also a lecturer of Food and Nutrition at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.

First published in the Health Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 14, 2013.