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Characteristics and nutritional properties of asparagus

Asparagus is among the most popular vegetables (even though I can only eat them 3/4 times a year as they have a high nickel content). They are perceived as ingredients suitable for complex and elegant preparations, such as risottos, for example.

Botanically, asparagus is a perennial plant that grows up to five feet tall. It is easily grown in a greenhouse, although forced cultivation gives rise to varieties with a particular colour.

As far as nutrition goes, asparagus is excellent; in fact, it’s high in vitamin A and B, both of which are beneficial to the eyes. Furthermore, the high quantities of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese show that it is a great source of mineral salts. Because asparagus contains asparagine, an amino acid that has precisely this action, it also aids in the absorption of proteins. In summary, they consume a very small amount of calories—25 kcal per 100 grammes.

The numerous varieties of asparagus

While only a single type of asparagus is consumed in Italy, numerous types are grown. The most well-liked and well-known ones are listed below:

  • White asparagus. It is characterised by the light colour of the stem and a slightly fuller and stronger flavour.
  • Green Asparagus. It is the classic asparagus, the one most consumed in Italy and Europe. They are very tender, free of fibrous filaments, and have a medium, delicate flavour.
  • It is a typical variety of the Veneto region, which is characterised by its light colour, sometimes tending towards green, sometimes tending towards pink. This asparagus is more tender and sweeter than average asparagus.
  • It is one of the oldest varieties ever, whose certified cultivation dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. The stems are very long, but they do not stand out for their sweetness and softness. The flavour is pleasantly bitter.
  • Pink Asparagus. It is one of the best-known, most delicious, and most widely marketed varieties. Mezzago’s pink asparagus is cultivated right here in my neighbourhood (Brianza ed.). This type is distinguished by both its characteristic pink colour and its mild flavour, which may be used to add sweetness to a variety of meals.
  • Wild Asparagus. It is a very widespread plant belonging to the Liliaceae family that also grows spontaneously along seacoasts or river banks; not infrequently, we can see this variety during a walk. This type should not be confused with hops (known as luartis in the local dialect ).

How do you enhance them in the kitchen?

Asparagus is also characterised by a certain versatility; in fact, it can be used to prepare first courses, season second courses, and create delicate side dishes or exquisite appetizers. Below, you will find a wide selection of recipes that enhance them. Obviously, a wide variety of asparagus risottos cannot be missed, as well as savoury pies in which these vegetables appear among the main ingredients of the filling.

These are all classic dishes, but there are a few that stick out as slightly out of the ordinary, like those that include exotic ingredients. After that, a wide variety of omelettes, salads, preserves, and flans will be present.

What are the benefits of eating asparagus?

As we’ve seen, asparagus has fantastic nutritional qualities. They benefit the body greatly as a result of this. First and foremost, because of their benefits to the immune system, skin, and eyesight, vitamins C and A are well regarded. Because asparagus is high in mineral salts like calcium and potassium, which are good for bones, it can be thought of as a tonic.

Asparagus, however, is famous for its diuretic abilities. They are due to the extraordinary abundance of water, which accounts for 90% of the weight of the vegetable, as well as the almost total absence of sodium. Precisely for this reason, the consumption of asparagus benefits those who suffer from water retention and even cellulite.

Asparagus is also purifying and detoxifying. In this case, the impact is glutathione, a molecule that supports the liver in eliminating toxins.

Asparagus can also benefit those who support weight-loss diets. They are good, versatile, and the protagonists of many tasty and low-calorie recipes; in fact, they provide only 25 kcal per 100 grammes, almost a record considering plant foods.

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