March: Asparagus

by Carolyn Prieto

Asparagus is a classic and versatile spring vegetable. It can be roasted, grilled, steamed, boiled, blanched, or used in a number of recipes.

Asparagus is also nutrient dense and provides several health benefits. It is in the top 20 foods listed on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI).1 In order to earn a high ANDI rank, a food must provide a large amount of nutrients for a small number of calories.1 This means you have the green light to make this green vegetable for dinner today!

  1. It may lower the risk of depression. This vegetable is one of the best natural sources of folate, and also offers a decent amount of serotonin.2 Folate may reduce the risk of depression by preventing an excess amount of homocysteine from accumulating in the body. Too much homocysteine can disrupt the production of the “feel-good” hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These hormones control mood, sleep, and appetite.1
  2. It’s involved in protection against cancer. An adequate intake of dietary folate has shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic, and cervical cancers. Researchers believe this may be because of folate’s role in DNA and RNA production, in addition to the prevention of unwanted mutations.1
  3. It aids the digestive system. Cooked asparagus may be beneficial for gastrointestinal conditions like ulcerative colitis because it helps to regulate the digestive system, thus reducing inflammation and promoting repair. Asparagus also acts as a prebiotic, meaning it boosts the good bacteria in the digestive system.3
  4. It contributes to bone health. One cup of asparagus contains 70% of the daily recommended needs for vitamin K. Adequate vitamin K consumption increases calcium absorption, helping to strengthen bones and reduce risk of fractures, bone loss, and osteoporosis.4

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus 5


  • ½ pound fresh asparagus
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil spray


  1. Preheat oven to 425° Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
  2. Rinse the asparagus and trim off woody end pieces. Spread out in a thin layer on top of the prepared cookie sheet.
  3. Spray the asparagus lightly with a coat of olive oil spray. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Use your hands to mix the asparagus with all of the ingredients, then lay out into an even layer again. Spray with one more light coat of olive oil.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.


  1. Ware, M. Asparagus: Health benefits and dietary tips. Medical News Today. Published September 11, 2017. Accessed March 7, 2018.
  2. Islam J, Shirakawa H, Nguyen T, Aso H. Simultaneous analysis of serotonin, tryptophan and tryptamine levels in common fresh fruits and vegetables in Japan using fluorescence HPLC. Food Bioscience 2016; 13 (1): 56-59. Accessed March 8, 2018.
  3. Shubrook, N. The health benefits of asparagus. BBC good food. Published August 30, 2017. Accessed March 7, 2018.
  4. 7 Health Benefits of Asparagus. Published July 30, 2014. Accessed March 7, 2018.
  5. Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus. Belle of the Kitchen. Published March 16, 2016. Accessed March 7, 2018.
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