Focus on Asparagus by Dr. Sarah Schenker

bunch of asparagus spears

British asparagus will only be around for a limited time as it has one of the shortest seasons amongst fruit and veg, so now is the time to make the most of it. There are plenty of health benefits associated with eating asparagus, so add it to salads, have it as a side with fish or chicken or just enjoy lightly steamed dipped into a poached egg or a bowl of aioli.

Health benefits

  • Asparagus is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, especially folate and vitamins A, C and K.
  • Asparagus is a good source of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, flavonoids and polyphenols. Antioxidants prevent the accumulation of harmful free radicals that can cause oxidative damage to cells, so they are important for helping to reduce your risk of chronic disease.
  • Asparagus is a good source of fibre which promotes regularity and digestive health and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
  • Asparagus is high in folate, an important nutrient that helps reduce the risk of neural tube defects during pregnancy.
  • Asparagus provides potassium, which can help lower high blood pressure. In addition, research has found that asparagus contains active compounds that dilates blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure.

Looking for inspiration, try these tasty asparagus recipes

Asparagus and pea pasta

Serves 2

Ingredients

200g pasta
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
250g asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into small pieces
100g frozen peas
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Handful basil leaves, torn
30g pine nuts, toasted
50g feta, crumbled

Method

Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions or as you like it. Add the frozen peas for the last 3 minutes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Stir in the garlic and chilli and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the asparagus and lemon zest and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain the pasta and peas and add into the asparagus pan. Add the lemon juice, stir through the basil, season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle on the pine nuts and feta and drizzle with some olive oil.

Asparagus and crab salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

20 asparagus spears, trimmed
Half a cucumber, cut into fine strips
2 large handfuls of rocket
100g white crabmeat
3 tbsp crème fraiche
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice of a lime
1 tbsp olive oil

Method

Cook the asparagus in a pan of boiling water for 2 mins until just cooked. Drain and place into a bowl of iced water to refresh and then drain again. Cut each spear on the diagonal into 2-3 pieces.

Place the crème fraiche in a bowl and add the mustard, lime juice and olive oil, mix together to make a dressing.

Place the rocket and cucumber in a salad bowl, add the asparagus and crabmeat and serve with the dressing.

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