The Mediterranean Lifestyle - English
WHAT'S IN SEASON?
Asparagus, officially known as Asparagus officinalis, like onions and garlic it is a member of the lily family. Around 130 species of asparagus are known to grow worldwide, but Asparagus officinalis is the only species categorized as a vegetable. Native to Central and Southern Europe across to Central Asia, archaeologists were able to date the oldest evidence of asparagus consumption in Egypt to around 3,000 BC. In ancient times, it was also known in Syria, Spain, Greece and the Roman empire. It has been used as a vegetable owing to its distinct flavor, and in medicine due to its diuretic properties and its purported function as an aphrodisiac. Some types of asparagus are also popular as ornamental plants.
Asparagus plants feel most comfortable on light, sandy soils that can store a lot of heat. Whether light or green in color, it is a noble vegetable and cultivation, storage and preparation requires little skill. As a geophyte, or “earth plant”, asparagus has a shoot that grows underground with exceptional long rooting. It is the asparagus shoots that grow above ground that we eat. As a perennial it can reach up to one and a half meters high with dense greenery if uncut.
How healthy is green asparagus?
It is sensationally healthy! First of all, it contains very little fat and only a few calories. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it is the first choice for figure-conscious connoisseurs. Green asparagus also has something decisive ahead of its white brother:
• The high chlorophyll content that turns it green, ensures a heartier taste.
• Unlike white asparagus, it contains vitamin A, which plays an important role in healthy skin and good vision.
• It purifies the blood: There is a good reason why asparagus is used in spring cures, it stimulates the entire metabolism and helps the body flush out toxins. Saponins are one of several phytochemicals, which promote the production of the hormone cortisol, and mildly increases blood pressure.
• It contains a lot of folic acid: A 500 gr serving of asparagus covers about half of your daily folic acid requirement. This vitamin from the B group promotes cell renewal and blood formation.
• It has a stimulating effect: There is a large portion of zinc in asparagus, which tones the body and stimulates the mind.