Chicago’s Green City Market has finally started back up! And with a spring farmers market comes asparagus AKA the only vegetable available in Chicago at this time of year. Lucky for me, I love asparagus. My newest obsession, however, is purple asparagus. With a slightly sweeter taste than regular [green] asparagus, it’s perfect both cooked and raw. Note, purple asparagus sadly turns green when cooked (see pic below), so if you want to keep the color intact, slice it thin and serve it raw in salads. A source of acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice, also helps to boost the purple color. Nutritionally speaking, purple asparagus contains slightly less fiber, more protein and more vitamin C than green asparagus. Check out the comparison below:
The purple color is not only pretty — it’s what makes purple asparagus a nutritional powerhouse. Anthocyanin, the flavanoid responsible for purple, red and blue colors in fruits and vegetables, is considered an antioxidant, able to remove free radicals (which can cause negative health effects, from inflammation to cancer). Various research has shown that anthocyanins also have antimicrobial properties and can decrease inflammation, improve blood pressure, improve eyesight and suppress the spread of cancer cells*.
The most important point to note with purple asparagus, however, is that it is delicious. It tastes less bitter than green asparagus and just looks gorgeous as part of a meal. Dietitians and other health professionals will tell you to “eat the rainbow” not only because it will provide a variety of nutrients, but also because we eat with our eyes, and a colorful plate is much more appealing that a monochromatic one.
With leftover salmon and purple asparagus on hand, I cooked up a delicious little meal. After cutting the asparagus on the bias, I sauteed it in coconut oil and minced garlic. This formed the bed underneath my salmon. I then drizzled with Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze (amazing stuff, by the way). A nice, light, low-carb lunch!
*Source: J Biomed Biotechnol. 2004 December 1; 2004(5): 239–240.