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Purple Asparagus – A Novel Superfood For Healthy Living

By Greg Hayes

Over the last few years, there has been a renewed interest in purple vegetables as a class of foods, mainly because of their unique medicinal properties.  Purple vegetables obtain their coloration from zeaxanthins, leutien, ellagic acid, and a variety of other powerful antioxidant compounds.  The growing interest in healing through diet, which has prompted development of a number of vegetables that are rich in these compounds, is the driving source for this growth.  Some purple foods on the market now include purple potatoes, peppers, and asparagus.

Purple asparagus, which was developed in Italy,  is a cultivar derived from the traditional green asparagus.  The foilage of the purple asparagus plant remains green, but it produces spears with a deep purple coloration that are sweeter than either the white or green cultivars.

Purple asparagus is not widely available in stores.  Although you may find it in high end groceries, if you’re into eating healthy, you will likely be better served learning to grow your own.  But be aware, it’s hard work, since asparagus is a deep rooted plant whose beds take a number of years to become established.  Done properly though, plants will continue to yield fruit for 10-15 years.  As they say, all great things take time.

There are a number of methods for preparing purple asparagus.  The most straightforward is simple steaming.  Trim the woody ends from spears and place the entire spear in a steaming pot.  Cooking time takes 3-7 minutes, depending upon how crisp you like your vegetables.  Overcooking leads to leaching of the antioxidant compounds from the spears, so careful attention to the food is warranted.  You’ll know its been overdone if your water turns purple.  Other options include stir-frying or blanching.  Served alongside steak or seafood, this delectable vegetable provides an excellent counterpoint in meals.  Not only is there the benefit of its high fiber content, which does a wonderful job of aiding digestion, but also reduces calorie consumption by contributing to satiety.  The consumption of the powerful antioxidants found in purple asparagus is thought to reduce the occurrence damaging free radicals, thereby promoting better health.

The movement toward healthy eating has spawned a number of novel foods that are high in antioxidants, and purple asparagus makes a solid entry into this field.  If the idea of healthy eating appeals to you, its worth taking the time to explore this unique vegetable.

Greg Hayes is the author of Live Fit Blog, where he writes about fitting fitness into busy lives.  You can check out his blog to learn more about the calories in steak, as well as other information relevant to living fitter, healthier lives.

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