Most vegetables lose some of their vitamins and minerals once cooked, which makes eating them raw seem more appealing. But what about asparagus? You probably don’t often see people just gnawing on full stalks of asparagus as a snack. Yet, does that mean you can’t eat them raw at all? While there are numerous ways to prepare asparagus, like steaming, frying, and baking, sometimes you just want a quick and painless snack.
So, can you eat asparagus raw? Yes, you can eat asparagus raw. Most people enjoy asparagus cooked though, as it is a very tough and naturally flavorful vegetable. Cooking asparagus can actually bring out more of its nutrients and make it more palatable.
Well, now that we know that you can eat asparagus raw, perhaps we should learn just why you might want to do so to begin with. But this still isn’t a question with a simple yes or no answer, as there are a lot of factors to take into consideration. Read on to learn what the possible pros and cons of eating raw asparagus might be.
The best ways to eat asparagus raw
Perhaps after you read that asparagus is entirely edible when raw, you jumped up and exclaimed, “I need to try this right now!” but you may have also realized that you don’t quite know how to best use this newfound knowledge. Well, before you start just chewing on some asparagus stalks, let me suggest some, probably tastier, options to try out.
- Salads. There are many recipes for raw asparagus salads out there, and all sound wonderfully delectable. People often split the stalks, chop them into bite-sized pieces, or shred them. Maybe even after trying a few of these methods in your next salad, you will create your own special recipe. Feel free to share with us!
- Juicing. Asparagus has a delightfully distinct and almost earthy flavor. That unique flavor makes it pair fantastically with many fruits and vegetables for juicing. Pair it with something sweet like apples, or go the savory route with spinach and kale. While the flavor of asparagus is something to write home about, its nutritional value could really add a wonderful boost to almost any juicing recipe.
- Add into smoothies. Whether you’re a hardcore fan of healthy smoothies and want to broaden your arsenal of veggie add-ons, or just want to add something healthy to your fruit smoothie, adding a couple stalks of asparagus might just be the thing you need. It’s a kick of vitamins, fiber, and some interesting flavor combos. You’ll need a powerful blender to make delicious and healthy asparagus smoothies. If you’re in need for a blender that will blow your mind, without blowing your bank account, check out our review of the 11 best Vitamix alternative blenders.
- Shredded or diced as a garnish to your meal of choice. You can turn your meal from simple to fabulous just by adding some shredded or diced fresh asparagus on top or to the side. Doing so not only adds a nice splash of bright green, purple, or white (depending on your asparagus of choice), but can also contribute a savory and uniquely earthy flavor profile.
- Try it just as is. Some people are okay with just eating their asparagus stalks drama-free. This is definitely an acquired taste though, as asparagus has a kind of strong flavor, so I cannot tell you for sure whether you would like it or not. But, since there may not really be any downsides to trying it, why not give it a go at least once?
When preparing raw asparagus for a salad, one way food aficionados suggest cutting your stalks is diagonally. They claim that cutting them like this can allow for easier pick-up, consumption, and better distribution of your chosen flavorings throughout the asparagus pieces. Another option to try out is shredding your asparagus, as mentioned briefly above. This method is good if you find just cutting it up is still too hard to chew, or even if you just prefer the look and feel of veggie shreds like a slaw.
Salads, part of juices, or even alone, no matter your weapon of choice, most people agree that the very end of the asparagus stalk (the part that used to be in the sandy dirt that it grows in) is too tough to enjoy raw. Unless, of course, you like to gnaw on something that may or may not break your teeth, but I highly recommend that you don’t do that. People refer to this as “the woody stem” and it’s almost always removed before consumption. Of course, you can probably juice this portion without issue to make use of the whole stalk.
Something to keep in mind is that if you don’t like the flavor of cooked asparagus, then perhaps you shouldn’t try it raw. That said, I also can’t stop you from trying it. Raw asparagus can sometimes have a much stronger flavor than cooked asparagus has. The nutritional content is worth the experimentation though.
Cooked asparagus vs. raw asparagus, which is better?
Asparagus, when cooked correctly, is a crunchy and nutrient-rich vegetable. Cook it too long and it can get mushy, but some people really like that texture, too. But what about raw asparagus?
Raw asparagus has the same nutrients as cooked, but they may be more difficult for your body to access. Since raw asparagus can be fibrous and difficult to chew properly, some of the nutrients stay in the vegetable and get passed through your digestive tract untouched. Cooking it can help soften the fibers, making it easier for your body to fully digest the nutrients.
Yeah, cooked asparagus is delicious, but you have to go through preparing it for cooking, actually cooking it, and eating it either that day or the next, as it doesn’t typically keep very well unless frozen. However, if you choose to freeze asparagus in an attempt to make it last a little longer, it may get floppy and taste odd once it is reheated. Yuck!
Some days all of that extra stuff can be too much of a hassle to deal with, which is a shame because of how beneficial asparagus can be to your health.
For a lot of vegetables, cooking them can lessen or remove certain nutritional benefits, so raw can sometimes be seen as a more nutritional option. However, even with this in mind, there are some vegetables that can actually benefit from being cooked, rather than lose their nutrients like others. Asparagus is one of those special veggies.
Asparagus is a very healthy vegetable, jam-packed with lots of nutrition and few calories. Some of these vitamins and minerals include, but are not limited to: Folate, potassium, phosphorus, and fiber. As well as vitamins A, C, E, and K, which if you move those letters around a bit they spell cake. Not sure if that means anything significant, but there’s a bit of fun for you. Maybe don’t put asparagus in your cake, though.
Asparagus also has a few micro-nutrients such as iron, riboflavin, and zinc. Macro or micro, all these nutrients and vitamins are certainly good for your body and mind.
Once cooked, the hard fibers that make up asparagus start to break down, making the absorption of these essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients easier. By not cooking your asparagus, you’re missing out on the majority of the nutrients simply because it’s tough to digest that way.
While choosing to have raw asparagus might be less of a pain to prepare than cooked asparagus, cooking asparagus in various ways can help to release some vital vitamins and minerals that are locked away in those little stalks. Steaming is preferred, but boiling and baking both help release the nutrients, too.
Not to mention, it’s much easier to eat cooked asparagus than those tough raw ones. Well, excluding juicing your asparagus. Juicing it will make it even easier to consume.
There are lots of ways to enjoy this delicious and powerhouse vegetable. How brave are you feeling today?
While you can eat asparagus raw if you really wanted to, this is one of the few vegetables that actually give more nutrients once cooked. Cooking asparagus helps break down some of the fiber, which makes digesting the vitamins and minerals easier on your body. So long as it’s thoroughly washed, eating raw asparagus shouldn’t make you sick, but you would be missing out on some nutrition.
This doesn’t apply if you plan on eating buckets full of asparagus, though. Tempting as it may be, please don’t do that. The epic gas eruptions in your tummy would not be worth it!
Will eating raw asparagus still make your pee smell? Possibly, but there’s a catch. Some people claim that their urine has a smell after eating asparagus. If you are one of these people, then whether the asparagus is cooked or not most likely won’t matter. Since there haven’t been any studies on whether the smell is more or less intense if it’s cooked or not, I can’t give a solid answer one way or the other.
Should you cook asparagus before juicing it or leave it raw? You really don’t need to cook asparagus before juicing it. Just juice it raw and add some fruits and half a lemon to your juices to make it more delicious.
Are there side effects of eating asparagus raw? As with all vegetables, you should always wash asparagus thoroughly. If you do this, and it is at the prime of its life, eating raw asparagus should not make you ill. However, a few people experience minor bowel irritation with asparagus, mostly causing flatulence. But this can occur whether it is cooked or not.