The health benefits of asparagus are it is highly nutritious, it is a good source of antioxidants, it offers liver protection, it possesses diuretic properties, it can stimulate the immune system and it reduces the chances of night blindness.
Asparagus or Asparagus officinalis is a spring vegetable which belongs to the lily family. Asparagus gives out tender shoots which are known as spears. These spears are cultivated and harvested.
Asparagus is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region and adjoining Asia Minor. The Romans are believed to have cultivated asparagus first during 200 BC. In the coming centuries, asparagus spread from the Mediterranean region to other parts of the world including Asia, Europe and the Americas somewhere between 18th and 20th centuries. At present, China, followed by Peru, Germany and United States are the highest producers of asparagus in the world. The modern name asparagus is believed to have been derived from medieval Latin name ‘sparagus’, ultimately derived from the Greek word ‘aspharagos’.
Asparagus has not only been consumed as a vegetable, but there are beliefs about Asparagus containing medicinal properties. There are many instances in Traditional Chinese Medicine about several benefits of asparagus.
Nutrition in asparagus
According to the National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrition found in asparagus includes
|Nutrition||Value per 100 g||Nutrition||Value per 100 g|
|Water||93.22 g||Energy||20 kcal|
|Protein||2.2 g||Total Lipid (fat)||0.12 g|
|Carbohydrates||3.88 g||Dietary Fiber||2.1 g|
|Sugars||1.88 g||Calcium||24 mg|
|Iron||2.14 mg||Magnesium||14 mg|
|Phosphorous||52 mg||Potassium||202 mg|
|Sodium||2 mg||Zinc||0.54 mg|
|Vitamin C||5.6 mg||Thiamin||0.143 mg|
|Niacin||0.978 mg||Vitamin B-6||0.091 mg|
|Folate||52 ug||Vitamin A||756 IU|
|Vitamin E||1.13 mg||Vitamin K||41.6 ug|
Is giving asparagus good for my baby?
Although, there are no associated risks in giving asparagus to your baby, it is advised to keep asparagus away from your baby until he or she is 8-10 months of age. This is because asparagus known to cause gas and sometimes, it can be difficult for your baby to digest it, especially when your baby has faced indigestion in the past. Other than these issues, there are no major issues associated with asparagus. The risk of developing allergic reactions to asparagus is also very low.
Health benefits of Asparagus for babies
Here are some of the benefits of introducing asparagus to your baby.
Very nutritious: Asparagus is a highly nutritious plant. The calories added to your baby would be less but the amount of vitamins and minerals added would be significantly high. Asparagus is high in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C, E, K, folate, thiamin, niacin, iron, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium and zinc. These vitamins and minerals each have a great role to play in your baby’s overall development.
Supply of antioxidants: Asparagus is high in antioxidants. Antioxidants can be regarded as the unsung heroes of nutrition. Their contribution to not only our diet but also to the diet of infants is noteworthy. Our metabolism generally gives our free radicals which are unstable chemicals that cause oxidative stress in our body. Oxidative stress is nothing but robbing off electrons from our tissues. This loss of electrons has number of risks. But, antioxidants intervene and neutralize these free radicals. (Nindo, et al, 2003).
Liver protection: Eating asparagus on a regular basis can have a protective effect on liver. Sometimes free radicals can damage liver and in infants, the damage could be worse in comparison to adults. Feeding asparagus to your baby would protect his or her liver from free radical damage. (Qiaoling, et al, 1996).
Diuretic properties: Asparagus possesses diuretic properties. A diuretic is that compound/ chemical/ biochemical that induce urine discharge. This property is useful in conditions where your baby is suffering from urinary tract infections or has not passed urine for a day or so. Regular intake of asparagus would mean that regular urine discharge would take place in your baby, thereby keeping the urinary tract and kidneys healthy. (Negi, et al, 2010).
Stimulates the immune system: Studies on asparagus showed that it can stimulate the immune system. The immune system when stimulated can be very active and counter the microbes that attack the body frequently and make your baby sick. By feeding asparagus on a regular basis, you can make sure that your baby does not fall ill so often. (Negi, et al, 2010).
Reduces the chances of night blindness: Asparagus racemosus, a close relative to asparagus officinalis is an effective herb that counters night blindness. Babies who are malnourished are at high risks of developing night blindness due to very less supply of essential vitamins and minerals. Asparagus racemosus can be given to your baby to reduce the chances of not only night blindness, but also other ocular diseases. (Negi, et al, 2010).
Measures to be taken while giving asparagus to your baby
Here are some of the measures that can be taken while giving asparagus to your baby.
Flatulence and odorous urine: More often people who eat asparagus complain about flatulence and odorous urine. Apart from this there is no major health risk associated with eating asparagus. If you think that it is a negligible issue, then you can introduce asparagus into your baby’s diet. (Pelchat, et al, 2010).
Peeling or snapping process: Before the cooking process begins, you either need to peel or snap asparagus. While some people prefer snapping asparagus, others prefer peeling. In this case, as you would feed your baby, it is better to peel asparagus as your baby might not be able to digest asparagus with the peel intact. You can give asparagus with peel after your baby has grown teeth.
Cooking asparagus: There are various methods that can be employed to cook asparagus. Some of which include microwaving, stir-frying, double boiler and steaming. Each of these cooking techniques can be employed for preserving the nutrients as well as its taste.