Asparagus or garden asparagus, scientific name Asparagus officinalis, is a spring vegetable, a flowering perennial plant species in the genus Asparagus.
It was once classified in the lily family, like its Allium cousins, onions and garlic, but the Liliaceae have been split and the onion-like plants are now in the family Amaryllidaceae and asparagus in the Asparagaceae. Asparagus officinalis is native to most of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia,and is widely cultivated as a vegetable crop.
Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine, owing to its delicate flavour, diuretic properties, and more. It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 BC. In ancient times, it was also known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans even froze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus created the "Asparagus Fleet" for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression "faster than cooking asparagus" for quick action. A recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’s third-century AD De re coquinaria, Book III.
The ancient Greek physician Galen (prominent among the Romans) mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb during the second century AD, but after the Roman empire ended, asparagus drew little medieval attention. until al-Nafzawi's The Perfumed Garden. That piece of writing celebrates its (scientifically unconfirmed) aphrodisiacal power, a supposed virtue that the Indian Ananga Ranga attributes to "special phosphorus elements" that also counteract fatigue. By 1469, asparagus was cultivated in French monasteries. Asparagus appears to have been hardly noticed in England until 1538, and in Germany until 1542.
The finest texture and the strongest and yet most delicate taste is in the tips. The points d'amour ("love tips") were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour. Asparagus became available to the New World around 1850, in the United States.
Asparagus is a good source of fiber and protein, both essential for good digestion and immunity.
It contains a number of anti-inflammatory compounds that protect you from type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
It has antioxidants, including one called glutathione, which is known to protect the skin from sun damage, pollution and the effects of aging.
The Vitamin K in asparagus is excellent for healthy blood clotting and strengthening bones.
Asparagus contains a unique carb called inulin, which remains undigested until it reaches the large intestine, where it helps to absorb nutrients better, and cut the risk of colon cancer.
Good news for those struggling to manage their blood sugar: asparagus is a rich source of B vitamins, which are known to regulate blood sugar levels.
Green asparagus is much more beneficial than white, say reports. The goodness is in the stalk, which contains vitamin A for better vision, potassium for smooth kidney functioning, and trace minerals that help boost immunity.