Nothing says spring like the sight of luscious Australian-grown asparagus on supermarket shelves. With ideal growing conditions and increased plantings, asparagus lovers are in luck – the season has officially kicked off and it’s on track to be the biggest crop on record.
When it comes to choosing your bunch, Australian asparagus grower and President of the Australian Asparagus Council, James Terry shares his advice for ensuring you pick the most crisp, moist and juicy spears.
Not only delicious, the vegetable also packs a nutritional punch says Accredited Practising Dietitian Glenn Cardwell.
“Look for firm, bright and smooth spears that are uniform in size with closed, compact tips. And, to keep them fresher for longer, store them similar to fresh cut flowers. Stand the spears upright in a container with 1cm of cold water, cover and place in the fridge,”
“Being a versatile vegetable, there are many ways to easily boost your nutrition by adding asparagus to your everyday meals. Simply cook on the BBQ, toss it through a stirfry, roast in the oven, blanch, steam or boil. Eaten raw or cooked, it is also a tasty addition to soups, salads, pastas, pizza, wraps and dips.”
Health tips from Accredited Practising Dietitian, Glenn Cardwell:
Energise yourself: Asparagus is a good source of B vitamins, which help the body convert fuel from your diet (such as carbohydrates) to energy. They’ll keep you active and feeling energised. Vitamin B6 also helps you metabolise foods.
Grow like a pro: Asparagus provides 20 per cent of our daily folate needs. Folate is important for normal cell division and tissue formation. Folate consumption is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke as it helps maintain healthy levels of homocysteine.
Fighting fit: Vitamin C isn’t just found in fruits! One serve of asparagus provides a quarter of our daily needs of vitamin C, which helps protect our cells from damage and strengthen immunity. It also helps the body absorb iron.
Help your heart: Asparagus contains potassium, which is essential for a steady heartbeat and healthy blood pressure. Potassium helps restore a fluid balance in the body.
Blood boost: Asparagus is a source of iron, which assists the body to pump oxygen around the body.
Anti-inflammatory powers: Asparagus contains rutin, which reduces oxidative damage and helps your skin stay healthy.
Goodness from the roots to the tips: The tips of spears contain the most rutin, while the stem of the spear has higher levels of protodioscin.
Stress less: Asparagus has one of the highest glutathione levels of any vegetable and far more than common fruits. Glutathione plays a big role in our cells antioxidant systems and helps protect them from oxidative stress.
No weight worries: Asparagus is low in kilojoules, without fat or cholesterol. It’s also a source of fibre, which is great for digestive health.
Did you know?
On the third spring after planting, the vegetable will rapidly grow the edible spear that we eat, one to two cm per hour! All Aussie spears are harvested by hand in the early morning when they are the perfect length and packed that day to hit shelves as soon as possible.
For information about asparagus and recipes please visit: http://www.asparagus.com.au
About the Australian Asparagus Council
The Australian Asparagus Council (AAC) is the peak industry body representing Asparagus in Australia. It is made up of a group of Australian asparagus growers who produce more than 95% of Australia’s asparagus. AAC growers work together to develop the industry and market fresh Australian asparagus.
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