From our experts: Jessi Holden, MS, RDN, CSOWM is a registered dietitian/nutritionist at Mary Free Bed. In this blog, she shares how healthy food choices contribute to a healthy lifestyle.
Well, Michiganders, we made it! Spring is here, and that means fresh fruits and vegetables. One of the first veggies of the season, nutrient-packed asparagus, has some powerful health perks.
About 120 Michigan family farms harvest 20 million pounds of asparagus each year, according to Michigan Asparagus. Holy spears, that’s a lot of asparagus! Michigan ranks No. 2 in the U.S. for asparagus production.
Not only is it available now in abundance, it’s also abundant in nutrients. Current recommendations for vegetable consumption is at least three servings per day. One cup of raw or half a cup of cooked asparagus is a great way to get your recommended servings. Not convinced? Here are five other reasons to add asparagus to your menu:
1. It’s a good source of fiber.
Fiber is an important nutrient we get from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It aids in the digestion process and helps us feel fuller faster. It also sustains your fullness/satiety longer, because it takes longer to break down in the stomach.
2. It’s full of iron.
Many people have low iron, anemia or are opting for meatless/vegetarian options and therefore don’t get as much iron from foods. Low iron can play a role in chronic fatigue. Green, especially dark, vegetables are a way to increase the iron in your body.
3. It has low pesticide load.
Michigan asparagus is a “Clean 15” food, according to Michigan Asparagus. That means it has a low pesticide load and is one of the safest conventionally grown crops to consume. It does not need to be purchased organic because of its short harvest season.
4. It’s a good source of potassium.
Have you ever been told to eat a banana to reduce muscle cramps? Bananas are commonly recommended for their potassium, but asparagus has it, too! This is particularly helpful if you don’t like bananas or want to get the same benefit but from a different source.
5. It’s rich in folate.
One serving provides “60% of the recommended daily allowance for folacin. This has also been shown to play a significant role in the prevention of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. It is important for women planning to start a family to increase their folate stores from a prenatal and food sources like asparagus,” according to Michigan Asparagus.
Need even more reasons? How about that it’s delicious grilled, roasted, steamed or eaten raw with a fun dip? (Find some great recipes here.)
You can really get into the spirit of celebrating asparagus at the National Asparagus Festival June 7-9 in Oceana County.
Want to learn more healthy habits? We offer Outpatient Nutrition Services, which include one-on-one sessions with experts who can help you to meet your wellness goals.