Asparagus is abundant this time of year, offering a delicious and nutritious addition to various dishes. Additionally, it offers a multitude of potent health benefits for women - from hormone balance to potent anti-cancer qualities. But my favorite reason to love asparagus during the seasonal shift from spring to summer is its affinity for both the liver/gallbladder and heart/small intestine energies within the body - offering a true bridge between the wood (spring) and fire (summer) elements, respectively.
Nutrient Rich Asparagus
Like many colorful vegetables, Asparagus is rich in vitamins A, C, E and K - but we can also turn to this amazing food specifically for these remarkable benefits:
- Healthy Pregnancy - a good source of folate
- Estrogen Balance - as a good source of fiber
- Blood Sugar Regulation - due to its content of chromium, a trace-mineral responsible for moving insulin from the bloodstream into the cells
- Cancer Fighting - rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that fights free radicals and breaks down carcinogens in the body
- Anti-Aging - offering anti-oxidants and one of the most potent sources for neutralizing cell-damaging free-radicals
- Reduces Edema - acts as a diuretic, helping the body to eliminate excess water through the high levels of the amino acid asparagine
Clearing Heart Fire
The Asparagus Root (also known as Tian Men Dong) is an herb in Chinese Medicine used to clear heat from the liver and lungs. It's great at dissolving dampness that can accumulate in the body as excess phlegm or nodules. While the root is a separate part from the Asparagus vegetable we enjoy at mealtime, the essence of these properties runs through the entire plant.
Asparagus is green and bitter in taste, naturally assisting in detoxifcation (via the liver). But the bitter taste also supports the Fire Element within the body, which is ruled by the Heart and Small Intestine energies, who have strong influence in the summer months.
The heart and small intestine uniquely relate to one another in support of the elimination of excess heat in the body - specifically when this heat is caused by emotional constraint. The Heart houses our emotions and has a natural affinity for warmth and fire - it rules our social engagement and in health encourages us to have warm and meaningful relationships.
When imbalanced, this can lead to feelings of overwhelm or anxiety, and cause excessive heat to build up in the heart. This is where the small intestine comes in and helps to drain this extra heat down into the bladder and out through urination.
Clearing the heat is imperative to emotional and physical health. If heat in the heart-small intestine access builds up, we can feel anxious, agitated or even experience physical symptoms like burning with urination (such as a Urinary Tract Infection - UTI).
There are some wonderful patent formulas to maintain the healthy flow of excessive heat downward from the heart and through the small intestine, but asparagus also does this beautifully. One could argue its effect on urinary odor is proof of the mechanism described below:
Now that you know a little about the health benefits of this springtime food - enjoy this lovely recipe from my favorite contributing Chef, Marti Wolfson.
Spring Mint, Radish, Quinoa and Asparagus Salad
Serves 4-6, By Marti Wolfson
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 1 3/4 cup Water
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 cup Asparagus, chopped into pieces
- 3 Scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh Lemon Juice
- 1/4 Olive Oil
- 1/2 cup Fresh Mint, chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp Fresh Oregany, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Radish, diced
- Sea Salt
- Fresh Pepper
- 1/2 cup Goat Cheese or Feta (optional)
In a medium saucepan, cover the quinoa with the water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Cook for 15 minutes. When all the water is absorbed, spread quinoa out on a baking sheet to cool completely.
In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the asparagus with ¼ teaspoon of salt and sauté for 4 minutes or until fork tender. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl combine using a fork, quinoa, asparagus, scallions, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup of olive oil with a fork. Fold in the mint, oregano, radish, and season the salad with salt and pepper. Add crumbled feta if using. Let stand so the flavors can blend for 10 minutes before serving.
About Chef Marti Wolfson
Marti has been an impassioned educator in the integrative health field for over 15 years. She brings a unique set of skills as a health-supportive chef, educator of Nutrition and Functional Medicine, and practitioner in mind-body therapies. Her CALM (Culinary and Lifestyle Medicine) approach to health and healing motivates people to make sustainable shifts in their health to prevent and treat chronic illness. She provides private and public cooking classes, one-on-one health counseling, corporate wellness lectures and workshops - check her website and sign up for her monthly newsletter here.