Happy Fit Food Friday! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and today is about asparagus. Asparagus is a sign that spring is near and , who would’ve thought it, has a pretty interesting history. One of the oldest surviving recipe books Apicius’s third century AD ‘De re coquinaria book III’ has a recipe for cooking it. Romans froze it high in the alps and coined an expression ‘faster than cooking asparagus’ when meaning quick action. In England we don’t appear to have paid it much attention until 1538.
But that’s enough of the history. On to why you should be eating it and I’ve included a couple of recipes at the end.
Asparagus can provide us with a variety of nutrients including vitamins A, C and K, fibre and folate. It is also an excellent source of vitamin E, a variety of B vitamins and more.
It has a unique combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients including a variety of asparagus saponins and also quercetin and kaempferol. Inflammation plays a role in many undesirable conditions.
3. Antioxidant content
Asparagus provides plenty of antioxidants. When compared with other fruit and vegetables it ranks high for it’s antioxidant content. If you want to read more about why you need antioxidants you can read my article here.
4. Helps fight cancer
Points 3 and 4 probably play a large part in why it is an anti-cancer food. It also contains glutathione which helps to break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds. Most tests regarding cancer and asparagus have been done on rats and mice but the results are positive.
5. Digestive Support
Asparagus aids digestive support through its inulin content. Inulin is a carbohydrate that is sometimes referred to as a prebiotic. Instead of being broken down like most carbohydrates, it passes through to the large intestine where it becomes a food source for good bacteria.
6. Decreased risk of birth defects
Asparagus is an excellent source of folate. Folate is an important nutrient during pregnancy and asparagus is a great natural source.
7. Heart health
Folate is also an essential nutrient with regards to our heart health. Folate regulates the amino acid homocysteine which, when in high levels, can be a risk factor in heart disease.
If you don’t really cook asparagus much here are a few recipes for inspiration.
Thanks for reading 🙂
This week is National Salt Awareness Week. It’s a really good time to do exactly what the title suggests and become aware of how much salt is in your diet. It is easy to eat too much salt without realising it, but it is also easy to cut back on salt once we become aware of where we are eating it.
Salt is actually necessary in our diets. Our bodies need a little salt to survive. The key word here is ‘little’. Most adults are eating far too much and may not even realise it. Regularly eating too much salt increases our risk of developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause strokes and heart attacks.
HOW MUCH SALT SHOULD WE EAT?
The recommended daily limit for salt for an adult is no more than 6g a day (about a teaspoon).
Children and babies should eat less. Salt should never be added to babies foods and you should never use stock cubes or gravy for babies as they are often high in salt, and babies kidneys can’t actually cope with the amount of salt in them.
HOW TO CUT DOWN ON SALT
The problem can be that most people don’t realise they are eating too much salt. This is because salt is hiding in many everyday foods. About 75% of salt in our diet comes from processed foods. Salt can be found in sauces and soups and ready meals, but also in everyday foods such as breads and cereals.
Start reading food labels. Salt is also called sodium chloride. If a food label gives a figure for sodium there is a simple way to work out the salt- simply x sodium figure by 2.5 to get the salt figure (2.4g of sodium is equal to 6g of salt).
Colour coded packages make it much easier to see how much salt is in a product. High salt is highlighted in red and means it contains more than 1.5g of salt per 100g. Products which highlight the salt in green should be low in salt and contain 0.3g or less of salt per 100g.
An obvious way to cut back on salt is to avoid adding it during cooking or at the table. This is something I did once Nathan was old enough to eat the same food as we did. I never add salt during cooking and it’s now very rare that I add it at the table. It’s all about forming new habits. Don’t automatically add salt, taste the food first and be sure you actually need it. It doesn’t take long for our tastebuds to adjust.
Flavour in food doesn’t have to come from salt. Fresh and dried herbs and spices and black pepper can add flavour to food instead of salt.
This nhs article has a list of foods that can be high in salt http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/salt.aspx
And if you’re looking for some low salt recipes try this link to BBC Good Food http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/low-salt
Here are a couple that I’m going to give a whirl:
Here is a link to more information about Salt Awareness Week. Do you need to cut back on salt? Let me know your thoughts.