Life Extension Magazine®
Farmer holding a bunch of asparagus

Superfoods: Asparagus

The nutrients in asparagus may promote bone health, weight loss, and healthy blood pressure, including a compound that may work as a natural ACE inhibitor.

Scientifically reviewed by: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, on January 2021.

Asparagus has been consumed in the Mediterranean region for thousands of years. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it was reserved for use by nobility, and it didn’t make its way to the local marketplace until closer to the eighteenth century.

But long before that, the ancient Greeks believed it had aphrodisiac qualities, and it is reported that Hippocrates used it to treat diarrhea.

Now, modern research is showing what makes asparagus so good for you.

Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well-balanced vegetables, and consuming it may have heart-healthy benefits.

In one study, rats fed a diet with 5% asparagus for 10 weeks had 17% lower blood pressure than those fed a standard diet.1 The researchers found that asparagus contained a compound that in a large enough quantity could work as a natural ACE inhibitor.

Purple asparagus, in particular, contains anthocyanins, which are the plant chemicals that give it its distinct purple color.2 Increased intake of anthocyanins has been associated with:

  • Improved blood pressure and lower arterial stiffness,3
  • Reduced risk of heart attacks,4 and
  • Reduced mortality risk due to cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, and all causes.5

With a composition of 94% water,6 asparagus could be beneficial for weight loss as well.7

Asparagus has a distinct flavor that is perfect for grilling in the summertime, roasting in the oven with olive oil in cooler weather, or simply lightly steamed any time of the year.

It also makes a great addition to more complex dishes, like stir fries, frittatas, or salads.

References

  1. J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Jun 12;61(23):5520-5.
  2. Phytochemistry. 2008 May;69(8):1763-6.
  3. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Oct;96(4):781-8.
  4. Circulation. 2013 Jan 15;127(2):188-96.
  5. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;85(3):895-909.
  6. Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app. html#/food-details/168389/nutrients. Accessed November 19, 2020.
  7. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 May;112(5):671-84.