Asparagus Nutrition Facts

Calories and Their Health Benefits

Asparagus
Tom Stoddart Archive/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Asparagus spears are both delicious and nutritious. Asparagus can be green, white, or purple. Most commonly sold in the United States is the green variety, while white asparagus is more commonly used in Europe.

Available all year long, asparagus peak season is the spring and can be purchased fresh, frozen, and canned.

Asparagus Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1/2 cup cooked, drained without salt (90 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 20 
Calories from Fat 2 
Total Fat 0.2g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 13mg1%
Potassium 201.6mg6%
Carbohydrates 3.7g1%
Dietary Fiber 1.8g7%
Sugars 1.2g 
Protein 2.2g 
Vitamin A 18% · Vitamin C 12%
Calcium 2% · Iron 5%

*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Asparagus is a low calorie, low carbohydrate, and high fiber food choice. One half cup contains only 20 calories, and 3.7 grams carbohydrate, and delivers seven percent of your daily fiber needs.

Health Benefits of Asparagus

Asparagus is an excellent source of vitamin K, a very good source of vitamin A, riboflavin (B2), folate, thiamin, and iron, and a good source of vitamin C.

Because asparagus is a good source of vitamin K, it's important to note that those people who take coumadin should maintain consistent intakes of vitamin K, meaning aim to eat the same amount of vitamin K containing foods daily (such as green leafy vegetables).

Asparagus is a good source of many phytonutrients, including antioxidants which may help protect our cells from damage.

Asparagus is also a source of inulin, a type of fiber that supports healthy bacteria in our guts. This is an area of research that is now getting a great deal of attention.

We are learning the value of gut health in disease prevention and health maintenance.

Asparagus is also said to be a natural diuretic, which can help to reduce bloating due to a combination of minerals and plant protein called asparagine.

Common Questions About Asparagus

Why does asparagus make your urine smell?

Asparagus has sulfurous amino acids that break down during digestion. These amino acids break down into smelly chemical compounds and present themselves as urine leaves the body.

Is there a nutritional difference between white and green asparagus?

In comparison both white and green asparagus contain roughly the same amount of calories, carbohydrates, and fiber in one serving. The difference between green and white asparagus is that white asparagus is grown underground. Because it is not exposed to light, it does not produce chlorophyll. Therefore white asparagus contains less chlorophyll than green.

White asparagus contains marginally less vitamin C, too. Note that white asparagus tends to be thicker than green asparagus and therefore tastes better when cooked through—it doesn't lend the crisp texture that green asparagus does. 

Picking and Storing Asparagus

When selecting fresh asparagus choose stalks where the bud is tightly closed. The stalks should be rich in color and should stand firm and appear plump and straight. Avoid asparagus that is limp, mushy, or dull in color.

​Asparagus can also be purchased frozen and canned. If purchasing frozen, avoid asparagus that is packaged with cheese, butter, or other types of sauces.

Instead, chose pain asparagus. Be sure to wash canned asparagus before use.

​Fresh asparagus can dry out quickly, therefore it's important to store it properly to maintain freshness. To extend it's shelf life and prevent food waste, keep your asparagus in the rubber band and trim the bottoms of the asparagus (about 1 inch). Place them standing up in a small amount of water (about 1 inch) in the refrigerator and wrap the ends in moist paper toweling. The stalks should not be washed until just before using.

Healthy Ways to Prepare Asparagus

Asparagus is a great vegetable to use in a pinch as it can be cooked quickly.

Make extra asparagus and add it to your morning meal or use it to make a hearty, healthy soup. Make a simple marinade and grill, roast, or saute your asparagus to pair with your protein at your meal, or dress up your asparagus and eat it in or as a salad.

Recipes with Asparagus

Leek, Asparagus and Herb Soup

Slow Roasted Asparagus

Pork, Asparagus, and Cashew Stir Fry 

Sources:

Labensky, SR, Hause, AM. On Cooking: A textbook of Culinary Fundamentals. 3rd ed. Upper Sadle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003: 638

Linus Pauling Institute. Micronutrients for health. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/sites/lpi.oregonstate.edu/files/pdf/mic/micronutrients_for_health.pdf

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