Since ancient times, asparagus has been used for its health properties, as well as a food source. From ancient times, physicians and herbalists recommended eating the spears to encourage urine production. Asparagus was also renowned as an aphrodisiac. Though that claim hasn’t been proven, asparagus does contain a stimulating blend of nutrients that help boost energy, cleanse the urinary tract, and neutralize excess ammonia, which can cause fatigue and sexual disinterest.
Another association with urine: many people notice a strong, unpleasant scent when they urinate after eating asparagus. That’s due to the asparagusic acid contained in the food. When this chemical is digested, it breaks down into sulfur-containing compounds. These compounds are also volatile, which means that they can vaporize and enter the air and your nose. Asparagusic acid is not volatile, so asparagus itself doesn’t smell. Interestingly, not everyone who eats asparagus will experience the scent. Scientists are still studying whether not everyone can smell the odor or that not everyone produces it.
Heart disease, including heart attacks and strokes, is the number one cause of death in the United States, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor. Studies have shown that a diet low in salt and high in potassium can help lower blood pressure. Asparagus is a good source of potassium, providing 6% of your daily requirement in a half-cup serving. In addition, anthocyanin, found in purple asparagus, has been shown to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks and heart disease.
Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress, which contributes to aging, chronic inflammation, and many diseases, including cancer. Asparagus is high in antioxidants, including vitamin E, vitamin C, and glutathione, as well as various flavonoids and polyphenols. These substances have been found to have blood pressure-lowering, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer effects in a number of human, test-tube, and animal studies.
Asparagus is a good source of folate, also known as vitamin B9. Just half a cup of asparagus provides adults with 34% of their daily folate needs and pregnant women with 22% of their daily needs. Folate is an essential nutrient that helps form red blood cells and produce DNA for healthy growth and development. It’s especially important during the early stages of pregnancy to ensure the healthy development of the baby.
Additional benefits of asparagus
Succulent, savory asparagus is low in calories and high in water, fiber, and nutrition, making it an excellent food to include in a healthy diet. Just half a cup of asparagus contains 1.8 grams of fiber, which is 7% of your daily needs. Eating asparagus is an excellent way to help meet your fiber needs and keep your digestive system healthy.
While some further medical studies might be required to confirm the health benefits of asparagus, eating your own home-grown varieties is a great way to control what you eat and ensure a healthier diet.
Did you know that asparagus can be so healthful? Please tell us about healthy ways you use asparagus.